It was their bedtime, and I was beyond ready.
Tensions had been running high that day. Attitudes were hot, patience was waning, and apologies were being doled out (read: forced out) by the hour, half hour, minute.
We were done. I was on the verge of crossing the day’s finish line. And all that separated me from the couch were a few goodnight kisses and prayers.
We rolled though their prayer requests as we do… friends who are overseas… friends who are planting churches… invisible ailments on little five year old appendages… and, this day, I happened to mention a few little ones at our church who are sick. Really sick. Desperately-in-need-of-prayers sick. They prayed, I prayed, and as usual, bedtime was signaled with our collective “amen.”
Except not quite. As I hurriedly tucked each girl in, eyes on the long-awaited prize (Netflix + pajamas + couch), I heard Mary Grace’s raspy little voice ask, “I don’t get it. Doesn’t it make God sad that these kid are sick? Doesn’t God want these babies to be healed? If He can do anything- if He can heal people and make people see again and make dead people alive again- why doesn’t He just DO it?”
I exhaled deeply as I prepared to offer up the best answer I knew to give in that moment. Because, little did she know, her weary mama had been busy firing off variations of those very questions herself.
“God, I know your Word says that you, Lord, are our refuge. Our shield. That we have no reason to fear because you will send your angels- your ANGELS- to guard us. But, God, what about Castile and Sterling? Dallas and Orlando? Where were you then?”
“God, I know you are a God of justice, but what about Nice? Istanbul? Munich? I’m just having a hard time with this, Lord.”
“God, I know you are El Roi- the God who sees- but things are feeling pretty pretty bleak down here. If you really saw all of this mess, wouldn’t you… do something?”
I’m pretty grateful that we have a God who can handle our laments and questions. A God who GETS that we’re finite humans and who isn’t dumbfounded by our doubts. Because, the truth is, I find myself wavering between numbness and despair these days. It’s just headline after headline, hashtag after hashtag… rinse, repeat.
But then, I hear the whispers. “Catherine, I do see. I do care. And I have never, not once, left my throne. So, don’t despair, and do not grow numb. Look to me.”
And I do. I look to Him. And as I approach His throne with all of my brokenness and questions, I feel the gradual untethering of my heart to the things of this world and an ever-growing homesickness for eternity. For our future reality in which death and pain and crying exists no longer. When peace is restored, justice reigns once more, and we worship together as one tribe, one nation, one people. And slowly but surely, future hope starts peeking through the ominous clouds of the here and now.
The reality is, this world’s brokenness spares no one. We see it in our families, marriages, churches, jobs, newspaper headlines. Brokenness everywhere. But in it all, I keep returning to the truth that, while our present reality may seem bleak and our situation desperate, there has never been a moment in history outside of His sovereign reach. Never will be.
Friends, these days have been impossibly tough for so many of you. And I certainly do not have all of the answers. Heck, I don’t even have MANY of the answers. But there are a few things I know for absolute sure:
I KNOW that our laments do not fall upon deaf ears. Our cries of “enough, Lord!” are heard by a God who loves us, quite literally, to death.
I also know that, just as the beauty of this world only pales in comparison to the glory that awaits us, the harsh realities this broken world- the injustice, sickness, pain, terror, and death- will soon exist no more.
So, may we resist giving up, shutting down, and growing numb by the hard things of this life. May we engage in the hard. Wrestle with the pain. Confess our doubts. Ask God the brutally honest questions.
May our weeping usher us into a greater urgency to see His kingdom come.
May we not get so bogged down and beaten up by the darkness that we’re rendered ineffective witnesses to the one true and inextinguishable light.
This world we live in- it’s beautiful. And it’s ruthless. A broken and glorious mess that teaches us every single day that Jesus is better.
Better than “making America great again.”
Better than guaranteed safety and security in these days of targeted shootings and ISIS.
Better than reassuring MRI results.
Better than very best this life has to offer. Better than life itself. He’s better. I’m convinced of it.
And the untethering continues. Unleashing my heart from that which does not last, all to bound it tight around that the One who does. The One who is better. Our Hope.