Monday, May 18, 2009

A Grieving Community

My tiny community is grieving. In the past several weeks, this rural area has experienced some tremendous losses. The first was a school board member and little league coach, then his elderly mother. Shortly after that, a young father, head of maintenance at our local YMCA. And now the the 20-something year old son of one of our most respected and devoted teachers. Why, Lord? We don't get it. We don't understand.

Some people believe God "takes" our loved ones away when they die. Others stand firm in their belief that illness, disease, accidents and death are all the work of Satan. In my mind, if God is really God, if He is really all-powerful, if He is really in control then He could intervene. How many times have we narrowly averted an accident and thanked God for His protection? How many times do people survive and recover from deadly accidents and diseases and thank God for it? (And rightly so.) But if God is capable of blocking catastrophic events, He must also be the one who allows them.

There have been a handful of times where I've discussed this issue with God, and decided that He was either not capable or didn't really care enough about me to protect me and my loved ones from the dangers of this world. Actually, there was only one time when I really felt that way. I threatened God that if He couldn't do a better job of controlling my life that I was just going to have to take control of it myself. Oh, that is a dark, dark place to be. That I even thought for a moment I could take control of my life is ludicrous. But I was so angry with God. I was so weary of the grief, I didn't feel I could take it any longer.

This is why I love my Lord so much. Even as I angrily shake my fist in His face and threaten to leave this Christian walk, God's love does not fail me. I feel His face tenderly shining on me as He says, "I know, my precious daughter. I understand why you're angry with me. But just hold on. Hold on to Me. If you could only see what I see... If you only knew what I know... I have something in store for you and your loved ones that you can't even imagine" At the same time my words of anger are coming out of my mouth, I'm begging God for His forgiveness and grace! And you know what? He grants it! Oh, my God is so good.

I heard someone say the other day that the church today expects God to serve us--and we really do. But we've got it all backwards. God is not here to serve us, we are here to serve Him. Life is not always fair. Life is not always good, but God is. Even in the midst of grief and pain so deep you think there's no way survive, God is good. God knows your pain. He understands why you're angry with Him. But He is not willing to cater to your every whim. He wants something much deeper, much bigger for you than to meet your every desire--and even some of your perceived needs.

So just keep hanging on. Keep holding on to Him. One day we will stand in that great cloud of witnesses and say with them, "Oh, I get it! Now I understand!" And we will fall on our faces before God and thank Him for His providence, for His strength to allow the things in our lives that we were just sure could not be His will. We'll see how it all fit together to bring about His perfect will. A perfect will is better than anything we could ever have planned--deeper and more complex than we could ever have thought through. And we will praise Him for eternity.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!