26 January, 2007

Engaging God: And Sometimes We Wait

There is a comfort in knowing God could fix "it."

I don't know anyone into whose life pain has not fallen. I know very few in whose life the pain has not been too much to bear, sometimes for a long while and sometimes for a short while, but too much is too much. We survive, and the pain recedes, and life starts looking worthwhile again, but those moments remain in our memories.

And while it hurts, we wonder what to say, what to do. The answer is usually, "Nothing." We've done everything there is to do, and what's left is to hurt and heal. Oh, sometimes we need to "quit doing that," and walk away from things that are causing us the pain, but more often than not the pain is not really due to anything we are doing wrong.

Some of us ask why, and some of us figure we know why, but why doesn't make the pain quit. Why doesn't heal anything. And why is expensive. As long as we are asking why, we are paying a price. Asking why is banging our heads against a locked door, because the answer never comes. It's no sin to ask why, but eventually we discard it as a fruitless strategy.

A better strategy is to make sure the door is really locked. Then make sure you don't happen to have a key, or a lock-picking kit. Then make sure there isn't another door, or maybe a window. Then, look for a comfortable seat, or even a bed. Rest is a good thing.

You see, God could unlock that door, and He ain't doing it.

Maybe He intends for us to figure a way through that door. If so, we will probably find a book lying around somewhere in the room that tells us the trick to opening it. If He intends for us to find our own way out, He will make it possible. It may not be easy or pleasant, but it will be possible.

Maybe He intends for us to stay on this side of that door. If so, we might find that there is a door wide open somewhere else. Don't worry about how long it's been sitting, open and waiting, just go through. If the Lord opened Door #2, whatever it holds will be much better than the thing for which we were pining behind Door #1.

Maybe every door is closed, and we are just in for a stay in a prison cell.

It happens.

Locked in a five foot cell with nothing but bread and water for months, the most important and beautiful thing in the universe can happen. A human being can love the invisible God. A human being can love a God Who loves him - and Who has allowed him to stay locked in a five foot cell with nothing but bread and water - against all the rules of reason.

I am convinced that there is no higher calling than to love the invisible God when every visible sign is that He does not remember us. In case you have forgotten junior high, the worst thing your crush can to do you is not even notice you. It hurts when we wonder why God ignores us in our hour of devastation.

So, what empowers us to love Him then? What makes us want to love a God Who only might be there, and could save us - if He was really there, and if He really loved us?

That question drives the false believer away. He sees his prison, and imagines God - strike that, god - could never leave him so blockaded. God and pain cannot coexist in his mind. God could not possibly allow anyone to be forgotten so, especially not him, so there must not be a God after all.

But the child of God? The child of God knows His Father. The child of God knows that His Father can deliver him at any moment, so they both wait. If his Father has not yet delivered him, it is not because He cannot. It is not because his Father is angry. It is not because he is forgotten.

Why, then?

Who knows, but it is not for a bad reason. His Father is failing to deliver him for some good reason.

If God is weak, then our prisons become terrors to us. If God is callous, then our prisons become hopeless. If God is vindictive, then our prisons are less than we deserve! But if God is strong and caring and merciful, then our prisons are something amazing; then our prisons are gifts in some way, and some day we will gratefully thank Him.

Maybe some day, I will rejoice in suffering. Until then, I will search for keys and doors and instructions on how to get out, but I will not be frantic about that search. I may despair of ever escaping from a situation, but I will remember my Hope. No situation is the measure of God's love. Only the cross can tell such a wonder.

There is a comfort in knowing God could fix "it."

7 comments:

Milly said...

I love how God put what we need in the room. I was trying to open that door today, I decided to sit down and shut up, not verbally in my head, and the door opened. It closes from time to time but after reading this I’ll try to remember Who has the key.

Missy said...

As I read this, I thought of the story of Joseph locked away so long and how some of the "Why" is so clear to us today. Thanks, cp, this was encouraging!

BarBarA said...

THIS IS EXCELLENT! This is one of those God moments for me because I am in a very painful place and I know everything you said here is true. I am keeping this post to read again when I need to be reminded. Can I link to it?

Thanks for writing this...

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

Amen, Amen, Amen. When you are right: you are very right!

The is very close to C.S. Lewis' conclusion.

All I can think of is God saying to Paul 'My Grace Is Sufficient For You!'

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

Thanks, all, but I cannot take any credit for this one. The Lord was just very kind to let me see it and I shared as best I could.

(And I hope you'll forgive me, Barbara, for not asking before linking your great holiness post. I'm pretty sure it's couth to link with impunity, but I didn't mean to be rude.)

pearlie said...

You are certainly right about the uselessness of asking why.

If God is weak, then our prisons become terrors to us. If God is callous, then our prisons become hopeless. If God is vindictive, then our prisons are less than we deserve! But if God is strong and caring and merciful, then our prisons are something amazing; then our prisons are gifts in some way, and some day we will gratefully thank Him.

Amen! During the suffering, we usually do not understand much about the disciplining God is bringing us through, just as our kids won't understand why we need to discipline them. The most important thing is that He love us and that is what counts, no matter what happens.

Anonymous said...

Karen sez...

very good...and I was going to mention Barbara's similar post...
isn't God great to thread everything together? It's one way to know He is here, now, walking with all of us through our stuff.