i think God is chuckling at himself - he's so daggone clever. its sort of not fair that he gets to control everything in order to get his point across. like the kid who yells 'timeout' every time he is about to be tagged. ...not playing by the rules.
but i'll take it. it kind of makes me laugh except that i am stubborn enough to NOT crack a smile. this is serious, GOD. at least 5 times since i last wrote have i encountered an experience specifically addressing my thoughts in the last post. i went to church and guess what the sermon was about...trusting God. i know. almost laughable except that i am not cracking a smile, remember? and then during one of my workouts at the gym last week i randomly dialed (or whatever you do with an ipod) to a podcast which was about...God's sovereignty in the midst of tragedy. ha! see if i ever choose a podcast again over my very hip playlist of avril, rihanna and beyonce.
i can't remember the other moments right now - let's just say God was having a good time throwing them in whenever i turned around. however, sunday night was the pinnacle. if i didn't clue into God then i think i might have had a reason to file for social security based on a severe hearing disability.
eric and i had the enormous privilege of helping with the steven curtis chapman/michael w. smith concert. we worked with steven's new project, Show Hope, to tell people about orphan sponsorship. it was a great time and seeing so many people have soft hearts to the orphans made me smile. i wished i could have done it for his whole tour - one of those purely uplifting experiences that you think, WOW, i could live on this mountaintop! anyway, a bonus was that we also were able to attend the concert - for free! we weren't sure if we would be able to, but God knew i needed to be in there.
i never realized how many of scc's songs were about the sovereignty of God. one after another was a cry to God proclaiming faithfulness in the midst of the mystery that is faith. and to hear him sing that and then talk of the horrible tragedy with his daughter maria... he was able to say, over and over and over, that even though he couldn't understand why God would allow what he did, he couldn't let that tragedy overwhelm the truth. that God is STILL faithful, he is STILL in control, he is STILL good, he is STILL holy, he is STILL right. what was true before may 21st is true after may 21st. do i get that? no. and that is where it gets complicated because i can't explain it. and i want to be able to reason with God and understand why he does things. WHY. HOW IS THIS GOOD?
tragedy is not good. christians try so hard to seek the good from tragedy. we have the "God works all things together for good..." syndrome. we can't allow ourselves to sit in the moment and say, "this is tragedy. there is nothing good about this. it is hell." but guess what? this earth is full of hell. God promises suffering and hurt. why can't we allow ourselves to feel it? why are we so uncomfortable with the idea that life can be full of devastation. why do we feel a need to wrap it in a pretty bow. hell is not one bit pretty nor are those things that are brought by its master.
God promises to orchestrate good from circumstances, that somewhere in the master tapestry the flawed and broken threads will be woven into the goodness that is our created life. but those threads are still flawed and broken. let's say it. let's live there for a bit. life affords tragedy and it is not good. cancer is horrible. infertility is heart-wrenching. tragic accidents are devastating. sick mama's and dying children are not good. and i don't believe that God asks us to feel that they are good. he only asks to believe that HE IS GOOD.
what i am learning is that my heart can feel the tragedy of circumstances. the weight and heaviness of hell personified. and that's okay. in fact, i would argue that a few of us need to sit there more often. to allow ourselves to be overcome with the tragedy that befalls us and those we love. but while my heart is feeling, i need to lean into the truth. to borrow a line from scc,
"God is God and i am not, i can only see a part of the picture he's painting"and when we can embrace that we are not God, and that he is in control, and that despite the hell which God assures us will enter into our lives in some way, he is good...that is when we can live life with fullness and as God intended. we can grieve alongside the losses, we can rejoice with those we see triumph, we can live every moment with all the emotion that comes with our frail, and yet God-created, human nature. all the while, leaning into the arms of a God who can see the whole canvas.