I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
— Casting Crowns, Parise You in this Storm
The hardest thing I have done in my life is to bear the death of my son. To go on from there with all the pain and anger and self doubt and to listen for that quiet voice of God… And to hear, not a mighty thunder… but a quiet whisper… for the Creator Almighty to hold His head agains mine, to mix His tears with my own… and to quiet me…. not with profound words of wisdom or poetic words of comfort… ” Shhhhhhh” He whispers… “I am with you, I am here.”
I am not sure that I can convey the difficulty of raising a hand in the midst of loss and pain, to praise the God who takes away… To praise the author of such a tragic and sad story. It is difficult. A faith untested may be no faith at all… My faith has been tested. And I know something of what substance it is made. I ask myself, would it have been easier at this juncture to abandon this walk of faith? Or is what I need in the hour of trial, and what I shoud seek by earnest prayer, is confidence in Him who sees the end from the beginning and doeth all things well? Walk away? or Struggle and continue with God? I chose the latter.
I have a deep suspicion of those who claim to know the mind of God. I have been pursuing the will of God for my entire adult and young adult life. I have read. I have studied. I have sought sincerely the will and the mind of God, Yet I do not presume to know the mind of God. … And those who speak with all certainty what the will of God for others is… what we all should do in certain areas, in areas of morality and politics raise in me a red flag. I have a deep suspicion of those whose central message is not one of reconciliation and love, but of rules and constraints, who approach me with a message that seems at its core to be saying with unbending certainty, “you aren’t doing it right. You must do it my way.”
And so it is with grief. Some question the sincerity of my faith… of my walk with God. They question the use of profanity in the midst of grief. (Yes, I will cuss in the midst of deep pain.) The question how I grieve… what I grieve… and whatever activity I do will cause some objection from some corner. In this age of facebook and twitter… of messages and texts… Suddenly the questions about faith and politics, or faith and my secular school job, or faith and my choice of diet, sound suspiciously like, “you aren’t doing it right, you must do it my way.” I have a suspicion and hostility to the notion of certainty in such matters that “I am absolutely right, and there is absolutely no possibility that I am wrong.” I have no qualms about asking for proof… about seeking their steps on their journey.
I post a great deal about politics. I argue. I bluster. I post memes that I find instructive, entertaining, or provocative. And when I feel insulted or belittled, I fight back (and yes I will cuss if you treat me like an idiot.). But I am sincere about my politics. Faith come first. I don’t believe I speak for God in my opinion, but I am also often certain, as certainty goes, that my position is first among all things, consistent with my faith. I hammer at what I see are inconsistencies… I question. And I can recount the steps of my journey. I am always open to the prospect that I am wrong. I am always open to new information, to reason, to persuasion, to new evidence that will shape all those secondary beliefs.
I have been “defriended” recently by probably a dozen “friends”…. and perhaps it is because I pushed and pushed hard. I argue with obsessive tenacity until they quit… until they have given up and hit the button to remove me from their feed. I have been defriended and blocked over an argument about Orcas and by another over the “spirituality” of anti-depressent drugs.
At the same time, I have determined to minimize my exposure to negative, depressing, darker elements. To people that complain and drain my energy or drag me down… to those that feed upon bitterness and hatred, who exalt anger and violence to virtue. Some things draw you toward bitterness.
And next to the mountain of grief, these things, the certain dogmatic views of others about what I do or what I believe… or the facebook actions over Zoloft and Shamu… are small stones.
I am far more grateful for the cloud of humanity… the arms that have held me… the hands that have served me in my need, the people who have not abandoned me, no matter how sad, angry, profane, rude, obsessive, or annoying I have gotten. the feet that have stood in God’s stead. Those who are positive and affirming… who promote strength in gentleness, who exude peace and comfort, and express kindness and love. I have leaned on them. They have held me. I have drawn from these, my friends and family, real strength and real sustenance. And to those people I do owe gratitude.
Some things make you a better person.