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Archive for September, 2009

puff of smokeI’ve decided this morning that life really doesn’t make sense. We could be spared endless heartache if we stopped thinking that it does, or that it should. Actually, let me rephrase that: Life makes sense, but not in a way that we can understand. In the grand scheme of things, the bigger picture, from God’s standpoint, every part of life makes sense – even cruel, horrible tragedies. I’m going to be honest. As I typed those last words, something in me rose up and screamed “NO!” I love the Lord, and nothing, NOTHING, will change that, but what happened yesterday is a very hard pill to swallow “submissively”. I put that in quotes because what happened can’t be God’s will, yet He allowed it to happen.

Let me tell you about Jonathan. He is a handsome, articulate, funny, kind guy. He’s married to a beautiful woman and has two gorgeous kids. I don’t know them all that well, but from what I can see, they are a shining example of a Christian marriage and family. They are very involved at the church I attend. Actually, Jonathan played a lead role in the Easter Cantata a couple of years ago. He was great.

Yesterday Jonathan died. He and his family were enjoying the last weekend of summer at a lake, and he drowned. I don’t know all the details, and I don’t need to. An emergency prayer alert went out to our church family as he was being airlifted to the hospital, his family taken there by police cruiser. Within a few hours he was gone.

Some of you might say, “well, we can rejoice that Jonathan is with the Lord.” Yes, that’s a reason to rejoice, but the timing isn’t. I can’t begin to imagine the horrible anguish and numb disbelief that his wife and children are feeling, and his extended family. How do they go forward? His wife suddenly a widow, his children instantly deprived of their father?

Please don’t give me a religious response, “the Lord will provide”. Of course He will. I think we say things like that because we’re trying to make sense of something senseless, or we’re trying to reassure ourselves. It’s really quite terrifying to realize how little control we have.

When tragedy strikes, we are often encouraged to speak only positive words, just believe that God will work all things for our good, etc. These things aren’t wrong, but I think the context is. Do we encourage people to avoid expressing negative feelings because it makes us uncomfortable? God can’t heal what we hold back from Him. Some would say that talking honestly about our doubts and anger plays straight into the devil’s hands. I think supressing these things gives him the upper hand and slowly drives a wedge between us and God. The Psalms are a perfect scriptural example of someone (David) expressing all his thoughts and feelings to God. The full spectrum of David’s emotions didn’t seem to trouble God.

We often say, “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship”, which is absolutely true. In a healthy relationship, the lines of communication are open and there are no forbidden topics. God is strong enough to withstand our questions, doubts and rage. I think it’s part of the healing process to express these things to Him. When we suppress them or pretend they’re not there, God can’t comfort us. I have in mind the picture of a child who has been hurt, running arms outstretched towards Daddy. I feel certain that God is heartbroken for Jonathan’s family, and He wants to comfort them.

Mourning is a process, sometimes a lengthy one. The best gift we can give to Jonathan’s family is to allow them to feel and grieve in an open, honest environment, one that permits questions, doubts and feelings of anger – indeed, any feelings they may have.

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