If you are anything like me, I’m very fond of the 5 W’s: when, where, what, who, and why. I spontaneously mark outings in my calendar. I don’t do things on a whim. It’s just not there. I don’t play board games without a thorough reading and understanding of the enclosed instruction booklet. This has led to a few heated moments with a few of my “on a whim” children. “We’ll figure it out as we go, mom.” No, we absolutely will not. We must play fairly, using the correct pieces, going clock-wise, and whoever is scorekeeper needs to have impeccable handwriting. I don’t think I’m asking too much. I’m invited to a baby shower and hyperventilate if I don’t know who will be there to sit shelter me. Don’t even get me started if there are baby shower games. These are a form of torture I compare to staying inside with young children when it has rained every day all week. See? I NEED to know things. All the things. All the time.
This is where I get in trouble. Lots of trouble. Loving and following Jesus and me demanding answers and details aren’t a very pretty mix. Like oil and water. It just doesn’t work. Just so you know, my favorite “W” is why. I’m like a three-year old, really. “But why can’t I have candy before dinner? Why can’t I wear a Christmas shirt to a 4th of July picnic? Why do I need to brush my teeth again? I just did that two days ago.” You know, all of those “whys” your parents attempted to answer and it made no sense to you whatsoever. But my three-year, seemingly insignificant “whys” pale next to my adult “whys”.
There’s a heaviness in the air lately. The world seems to be spinning out of control before our eyes and we can’t make it stop. Good, good families are losing little ones to horrible and ugly diseases. Innocent children are dying every second from starvation and rejection by their own countries. Innocent people are being killed on our streets, addictions are gripping tightly to our loved ones’ very souls, and those we adore so deeply no longer see the value in living life and take their own because they don’t see hope. Call me confused. Sad? Angry? Hopeless? Rejected? All of the feels. All of them.
I cannot speak as to why such horrible tragedies happen to families. To those that love God with every fiber of their being and serve Him in ways few even know about. It’s cliché, but yes, I do wonder why “bad things happen to good people”. Who am I to judge who is “good” and who is “bad”. That’s pretty presumptuous on my part. Tragedy is vain and pointless to me, no matter the person. Which leads me back to “WHY?”
To be completely transparent, this is going to be a “Hey, can we remind each other of these truths when our lives get so messy and painful” post. Because I have zero answers. Not that anyone thought I would. But, seriously, I’ve got nothing. I do have God’s truths, promises, and mandates. These are what I have right now. Am I guilty of defining these as a last resort go-to? Absolutely. Should it be our FIRST and only go-to? One hundred percent YES. This is on my heart today. Maybe it’s on yours, as well. If you are hurting, grieving, angry, rejected, or hanging on by a thread, let’s bask in His truths, take a deep breath, close your eyes and say, “I am a child of the mighty King. No pain I go through can stop Him from turning this into good one day”, and surround yourself with your people. Let them hold your arms up, like Moses when Aaron and Hur stood on each side of him and held his arms up when he grew so weary, that he couldn’t do it alone.
Here are my verses. My “Here you go, God. I don’t want these. I can’t carry them” verses when I doubt His love for His children.
1. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present or future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (New International Version, NIV, Romans 8:38).
Oh friend, that we could really be convinced of this kind of love. The kind that has no conditions or ending. The love that can’t be separated by anything man can throw at us. And ultimately, can we trust a Father to love us when He has allowed pain to seep into the very cracks and crevices of our being? Nothing in the future or the past, no matter how or how deep, can thwart His plan. Whether we like His plan or not, He will reveal Himself in ways we never expected in due time.
2. “YOU (emphasis mine) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (NIV, Genesis 50:20).
If anyone had reason to doubt the love of God, ponder Joseph’s life of being sold into slavery, rejected by his brothers, and grieving at the thought of never seeing his father again. A 17-year-old son, highly favored and hated by his brothers. As the story unfolds, we see his brothers literally crawling back to Joseph in desperation. What does Joseph do? Reject them? Throw them in prison? Deny even knowing them? All things that would have crossed my mind. But in God’s wisdom, his response can translate into so many facets of our lives. Whatever “YOU” did that was meant to crush me, doubt God’s very existence, and soak my pillow with tears every night, yeah that? God intended to make me stronger, to help me and others see His goodness, and He will accomplish anything He chooses through the “YOU”…the death that you are grieving, the job you lost unexpectedly, the loss of a relationship, the son or daughter that has wandered away. Anything. We will never comprehend His goodness without seeing the badness of the bad things. How can He show His faithfulness and sovereignty to carry us through them? As much as I’ve wanted to blame Him for my pain, He is not the source of it. Period. But He is there to pick me up when I fall and gives me hope that my pain is temporary.
3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
I have always believed that my path crosses with others at the very moment that we both needed it. That’s just Jesus doing His thing. He is compassionate like that. He brings people to comfort you, to hold you up, and to say, “Keep going”. When continuing to walk is the very last thing we believe we can do. And then months and even years later, you see a healed and new you in the mirror. Who somehow made it through the fire. Still hurting? Incredibly so. Putting one foot in front of the other with your head held a little higher. More and more every day. Then one day, a beautiful and hurting soul needs you to remind them that the Father is full of compassion and goodness, even in the middle of the ugliest of messes and tragedy. And we can empathize. Because we have been there and we made it. So you cry together, hold them tightly, and assure them that His love is unconditional and that their pain is not a measure of His goodness. Their pain will one day turn to beauty no matter how every part of them believes that it is not possible. Their “why” will not be foreign to you. It will resonate with you on levels you never saw coming. And then, that’s the moment we praise our Father for bringing beauty from pain.
Wherever you are today, hold on. I will hold on if you will. Deal? Cry out to Him. He hears you. He longs to bring good from our pain. It’s a process. A long and tear-filled one, at best. There’s got to be beauty at the end. He promised. And His promises are really all we have in life that are true and unchanging. I’m going with that. I pray that you do, too.