There are times when words don’t come– can’t come, really, because of the hugeness of what it is I’m trying to write about. There are times when all the pain and grief and horror of a sin-cursed world, usually so nebulous and “out there,” come to a sharp point and I see so clearly– this is why we need a Savior.
2015 was a hard year. And in keeping with its hardness, on the very last day of 2015 a dear friend lost her son to cancer. Her son who was ten years old. And I hate it so much– all of it, the empty grief I know she is feeling, the questions, the thought that ten years was all she got with her boy. I hate that “cancer” and “ten years old” ever have to be in the same sentence, that this world is so damaged by sin that the innocent suffer from it. I hate the helpless feeling that I don’t have any answers.
I believe that God does not allow any purposeless suffering to come into the lives of His beloved children. I believe He is good, and that His ways are best. I look at this tragedy and I struggle to reconcile the God I know personally with all of this. I am being honest here. I don’t understand, and I hate this death, and others like it, that seem like such victories of darkness, that leave mothers bereft and families reeling.
It is in the doubt and the fear and the anger that we must turn to the Truth. It shines like the tiniest candle in the darkness of grief, and if we keep forcing our eyes back to it, the light grows brighter and we gain understanding and wisdom. I don’t know if we’ll ever understand, this side of heaven, what God is doing when He allows cancer and car accidents and cold-blooded murder. I don’t understand martyrs or terrorism or abortion or hate crimes.
But I know my God. I have read His Word and I have experienced His work in my own life. I don’t understand Him, but I know Him. I have seen Him weave my tragedies and sorrows into something of a beauty far surpassing anything I could have dreamed. I have seen Him shine out grace and glory in the middle of the darkest, most horrific circumstances. I have seen Him provide for, protect, care for, sustain, and hold me when I simply couldn’t hold on anymore.
I see the story of God’s power and beauty splashed across the skies, and I recognize the fingerprints of His creative goodness in the people around me, and I read the words of His love and provision for every need written in crimson at the cross. For God Himself knows what it is to watch a Son die.
This is all I have to hold onto. And there are days it feels like a wrestling– like Jacob–I will not let go until You bless me. And on those days, in those weeks and months and years of the grief and the walking and working through and the healing and the floods of memories, He does bless. He will bless.
I do not understand today. Maybe I will never understand. But this is faith– to believe in the sun when all I see is the tiniest reflection of it in the crescent moon, to believe in blue skies in the midst of a hurricane.
Faith says that when I cannot understand, yet I will believe.
Faith says that when I cannot see, yet I will live as though I can.
Faith says blessed be the name of the Lord even when the Lord has taken away.
I do not write these words lightly. They can sound so empty. So trite. Or they can sound full and beautiful and brimming with hope even in a cup that seems so very bitter. It all depends upon my faith.
And so I pray, as I grieve for the loss of a child, as I grieve for the broken heart of my friend– Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.