I’m sitting here on my couch in the basement with my feet propped up, a quilt wrapped around my legs (yes, it really is that time of year), with the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack playing in the background (if you haven’t listened to the soundtrack, it is so relaxing and beautiful). Darryl is prepping for his university classes and I can vaguely hear my kids playing upstairs… They all seem to be getting along – or at least that’s what I choose to believe for the time being!
I have been praying and asking a lot of questions of God this morning. My nephew is getting married in a week (that automatically makes me feel older) and this event has made me think a lot about his Mom. She passed away a couple of years ago and I keep thinking about how much she would have loved to be a part of this day. She loved her children and would have been so proud of her son’s choice of spouse.
As my mind began to “spider-web,” my conversation with God went to many seemingly unrelated places and topics. When I contemplate difficult life experiences from the past, there are some things that, over time, I have begun to understand or discern, in terms of seeing God’s bigger plan; but there are also many things that I still don’t understand, and that still cause me grief. Darryl’s dad passed away when we had only been married for a couple of years. It was so hard to understand but over the years God has shown us redemption in that situation. Darryl’s mom got remarried to an amazing man who has been grafted seamlessly and integrally into the family. He has not “replaced” Darryl’s dad, but he has fully become Dad or Grandpa to all of us. We still can’t get over how God worked through the situation. It is beautiful and miraculous.
I have a dear friend who, after trying for years and years to have a baby, got pregnant, only to lose her baby at birth. When I pray for them, I still feel deep grief and loss to this day (I’m teary-eyed just writing this). I often ask God, “Why?” Or, I ask God to show me something of His greater plan, of how He can take something as tragic as this, and redeem it. I don’t have answers on this one, and the many questions still remain.
I think most of us wrestle with these kinds of questions, the ones that don’t always have nice “Christian” answers. And we struggle. We struggle to understand. We struggle to see God in the midst of the fog.
I once had a conversation with a student who wanted to surrender her life fully to the Lord. She was crying as she told me that, for the last six months, she had decided to reject God and have nothing to do with Him. She shared that she didn’t “feel” Him beside her and often thought, “Hard things still happen to me, even though I have faith, so why bother putting in the effort?” She looked at me and said, “I was lonely with God before rejecting Him, but I was so much lonelier without God.”
That phrase has always stuck with me. In fact, it has been faith building for me. Sometimes the first thing we do when we don’t understand something is to reject, blame, question, or accuse God. But, whichever way you look at it, anything is way worse without him. We might not understand why things happen and we might have a lot of questions; God is not threatened by our honesty. He is there and desires to walk with us and to comfort us. He offers us heaven as hope for what is to come, no matter what we are going through now.
Sometimes that reality doesn’t feel like enough, but I cling on to it and continually ask God to open my heart to what He is saying, to help me understand Him clearly. Hope is not something that God offers because everything is great in life; hope is what He offers because He knows that life can be hard.
Psalm 121 (NIV):
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Hope in the Lord…