Some of you may have listened to my sermon from a month ago. If you didn’t, the thrust of it is that when difficult times come we all want to know “why” and, frustrating as it is, God seems to be quite silent in answering this question. However, if we wait and pay attention, we find that while God may not have answered that question in the way we wanted. He did something different; His presence was with us in the storm. He really is Immanuel, “God with us”.
(The first post by Clive’s dad, Sam. I actually wrote this 3 weeks ago and just now got around to posting it.)
It was probably good I gave that sermon when I did, because those words really did come from my heart and from God’s spirit in me. It’s funny though how much you need to then play back your own sermon in your head in the weeks that follow. The past few weeks have been hard for me. Hard to remember some of the core truths I thought I would continue to remember. Each of the past three months have been different. I feel like month 1 was just shock and numbness. Month 2 was lots of sorrow, I shed a lot of tears. But mixed in with those tears was joyful memories of Clive’s life and clinging to the hope of the future and the truth that God is still good and that Clive is still alive.
Month 3 has been tough. The hope and the joy have been harder to cling to. On the other hand, the sorrow doesn’t seem to be as painfully strong (although at random times it definitely is). Part of what scares me is that this new life is starting to feel normal and I don’t like it. At first our quiet empty house seemed a tragedy, and now it just seems like part of our life again…. which is a tragedy. I guess more and more our lives seem to me to be less of a tragedy story and more of a “this is just how life is” story. This is somewhat dangerous terrain to be in.
There is truth to it, though.
One of the strange blessings in walking through extreme hardships is that you realize the brokenness and wrongness of this world. From a Christian perspective this is theologically very important. This world isn’t always a beautiful, wonderful place.
Something is broken about it.
We know that brokenness has to do with sin.
The trouble then is balancing that truth with the OTHER truth that God has still made this place a beautiful, wonderful part of His creation. And He has made it to reflect and point to His existence and His glory. And that He is not finished, He is working to make all things new and perfect again, even in the midst of the brokenness and evil.
Sometimes it feels like walking on a razor’s edge between those two truths.
Sometimes (oftentimes?), I can’t walk that razor’s edge well.
Lately, I have been slipping to the side of everything’s broken. Which is understandable I guess considering what we’ve been through. But I find my hope slipping. Hope that God actually saves. Hope that God actually changes things for the good. It’s difficult to pray for healing and actually believe it will happen. It’s difficult to hear stories of God changing someone’s life without thinking cynical thoughts.
I’m wrestling in my mind with these things. I realize the error of my cynical heart, but that realization doesn’t cure the cynicism. I believe God is still good, I really do. But part of me has separated God’s goodness with outcome.
I can believe, I can hope, I can trust that God is still good even when things suck. Which, once again, there is truth and wisdom in this, but this is also a road that if you walk far enough down you find yourself in a dark place without any hope of a good outcome.
I guess I should start by praying that God heals me of this season of doubt and cynicism.
But what do I do if part of me doubts and is cynical that God will answer that prayer?
Isn’t that a conundrum?
I’m going to end with this verse and I am going to insert a word in parentheses to more honestly state the state of my heart. I do believe. I am praying that God helps my unbelief.
“And I am (somewhat) sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” Phillippians 1:6