I had to steady myself because a couple of weeks ago…when that question was asked…I was asking the same questions inside. There is no kid-sized answer to that question. Not for a week like that week.
So what do you say to a boy who is racked with nausea when he asks such a question in the midst of tears?
What do you say to that when it is also a week when, in your small town, there are two young lives lost in a tragic car accident?
What does the town make of it? Of God?
What do you say when…just days after…you have a retreat planned with the ladies at church to discuss how to respond to God in ALL of life’s moments…good AND bad?
This was the burden of just a couple of weeks ago and the burden I continue to think upon into this week.
I think of it again this morning as I continue to reel at the thought of a beautiful saint leaving this world and her family just two days ago and what feels like…all too soon.
And I thought of it a few days ago as I sat in a hospital room and talked with a couple. The man has had chronic pain since I’ve known them. In his back and in his heart. His heart because he lost his only daughter at a young age…maybe over 30 years ago now. Another lost in a car accident. He tells me that he thinks of her every day and feels the loss every day. His faith has got him through.
The man I turned my back to upon entering the room, his roommate, interrupted us. He raised his voice as if he longed to yell it but didn’t, “That’s right…his grace was sufficient for you.”
I had wanted to give him privacy but he turned it down and instead joined us in this wrestling with God. He was bold and unapologetic in his faith. He demanded God’s glory. And when asked what he wanted prayer for he didn’t ask for healing of his body, he asked that we all would have eyes of faith. Faith in the things that are unseen for us Christians. That we would trust God is working all things together for our good and His glory. That there would be a revival in the land.
He was seeing with eternal eyes. He wanted us to see with eternal eyes.
I cringed inside a bit as his bold words fell on the room. And I wondered if my friend in the hospital bed did a bit too inside.
The stranger turned brother in Christ who spoke with courage into broken lives was right. But…
But I had to say to him that it is OK too to groan a bit under this. Groan alot actually. And to let others groan. Groan because “we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:22-25).
Isn’t this part of being in a fallen world?
To groan as we hope with great patience for eternity?
I am reminded of the girl at work who lost her hair and skin in a machine. Her blood ran all around me. We thought she would die. I held her hand and prayed. I asked my then-pastor later that night…why did God allow this and where is God? Where has He been throughout thousands of years when people have endured tragedies like this and worse?
His words were simple and ring true to this day. “He is saving us from this.”
And his words and encouragement that night keep me pressing on in my more recent dark nights. In the midst of all kinds of current sorrows. Because pressing on reflects a hope in something deeper than our circumstances. Pressing on, for me, represents eternal life and eternal life with Jesus as King in a new world that does not cry or sin is my hope. THIS world…though beautiful at times…is not my hope. I’m looking to something made totally and completely new.
Isn’t that how Jesus did it? He thought eternally. He looked at things with an eternal worldview.
“… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
For the joy set before Him.
For the future of us and Himself…eternal life with us…His people made whole and holy…He endured hostility, violence, evil and death Himself.
Yet even Christ…knowing the joy set before Him had to endure. If He was in such agony that He sweat blood…He most likely groaned too.
I don’t really know the answer to the WHY’s. Not that anyone is asking me. But I guess I have to accept that we are in this stage still where God is rescuing us. And if we are being rescued…that means we are in great danger.
So we are being rescued…He is redeeming us and the world…because He knows all too well of the tragedies of our existence. The tragedies of disease and death and sin. When Lazarus died and He knew He’d be raising him from the dead, Jesus wept. Though He knew the future, He was still moved to tears.
My husband recently told me that that the greek word translated “wept” has a sense of anger—of nostrils flaring like a horse’s nostrils. Part of Jesus’s response was his hatred towards death itself and its intrusion into the very creation that He Himself ruled over.
Could you imagine that? Jesus…not with just a wimpy unfeeling tear rolling down his cheek. But perhaps more like us in our deepest losses. Perhaps the sort of tears that come along with pounding fists. Not helpless fists like ours, but fists that would…one day…be nailed down to a tree in order to save us from the very thing He is weeping over.
And perhaps that is all I need right now. As I watch more people suffer yet again over another tragedy in our small community. The loss of a saint and a mom to eight.
Perhaps this is all we all need to do right now. To simply look to Him and know that He identifies Himself with our grief. Yes…we should move towards eternal thinking and even thanking Him for our eternal hope. But also to know it is OK to groan because this ISN’T the way it was supposed to be. To know that He is familiar with our sufferings, He hates it, He weeps over it and He has taken action… is taking action…rescuing us from our bodies of sin and death. Bringing ultimate victory even over death.
And to know too that He is groaning as well as He intercedes for us. This gives me comfort.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28).
Linking up with these sweet sites today:
*Some photos taken from google images, links on images are provided for the sites they were taken from.