Saturday, August 15, 2009

God's Presence in the Midst of Difficult Times

A challenging and transforming chapter of my life concluded yesterday as I left the hospital. I had spent the previous 11 weeks being humbled by the grandness of God's character and presence made known through creation, through humankind, through pain and suffering, and through relationships. I have not blogged about this experience until now for many reasons, but primarily because it seems impossible to write clearly and articulately about experience. This has happened before; when describing the beauty and excitement of kangaroos in their natural habitat in Australia, or describing the deep grasp of joy swelling from a marriage with victories and struggles, or the pain at the loss of a loved one, or a family member missing from the routine of life. The construction and usage of language cannot seem to grasp the feelings of these experiences. Yet, language and relationship are the means that we have to work with in order to communicate. And because my own belief is that God works through the lives of individuals, our own stories need to be told, for these are how we know God.

I am sitting outside on our patio, listening to the birds and activity of the Saturday "get it done" yard work. In front of me is the patio-sliding-glass-door, which mirrors back to me my place among God's creation. I look at that reflection, and realize that I am looking at a different person than I was on May 31st, 2009. The expected clinical experiences of death and tragedy helped to mold and transform, but only as they functioned as vessels for experiencing God's presence in grief, loss, shock, anger, sadness, doubt, and fear. And what part did I play in it all? I was unable to bring answers to a wife who had lost her young husband to a tragic fall. I was unable to provide an 84 year old male with the tools to continue now that his wife of 56 years was gone. We can so often do "so little" to aid one another towards health and healing.

Yet, I have come to believe that we are images of God's care, God's grief, and God's joy when we simply offer ourselves as one human to another. I don't have the answer for "why" tragic events happen, but I know that I experience fear, sadness, and anger when they do. I also know that there is little that frustrates me more than a person who says, "God must have wanted this to happen." Maybe the appropriate answer to, "Why is my husband gone?" is better answered through tears and through the holding of the others hand, acknowledging the pain and grief that is felt.

The idea of a God who suffers is relatively new in my theological awareness, but as it relates to my experience of God, it holds great weight. How many times does Scripture attest to God mourning over the actions of his people? And the entire story of God becoming man through Jesus Christ testifies to an emptying of power and a taking on of suffering, in order that creation may know and experience the love of God. Oh, how deep is the Father's love for creation! May we become more and more willing to "walk with" one another in pain and sorrow and experience the love and presence of God in doing so.

God's Presence in the Midst of Difficult Times

A challenging and transforming chapter of my life concluded yesterday as I left the hospital. I had spent the previous 11 weeks being humbled by the grandness of God's character and presence made known through creation, through humankind, through pain and suffering, and through relationships. I have not blogged about this experience until now for many reasons, but primarily because it seems impossible to write clearly and articulately about experience. This has happened before; when describing the beauty and excitement of kangaroos in their natural habitat in Australia, or describing the deep grasp of joy swelling from a marriage with victories and struggles, or the pain at the loss of a loved one, or a family member missing from the routine of life. The construction and usage of language cannot seem to grasp the feelings of these experiences. Yet, language and relationship are the means that we have to work with in order to communicate. And because my own belief is that God works through the lives of individuals, our own stories need to be told, for these are how we know God.
I am sitting outside on our patio, listening to the birds and activity of the Saturday "get it done" yard work. In front of me is the patio-sliding-glass-door, which mirrors back to me my place among God's creation. I look at that reflection, and realize that I am looking at a different person than I was on May 31st, 2009. The expected clinical experiences of death and tragedy helped to mold and transform, but only as they functioned as vessels for experiencing God's presence in grief, loss, shock, anger, sadness, doubt, and fear. And what part did I play in it all? I was unable to bring answers to a wife who had lost her young husband to a tragic fall. I was unable to provide an 84 year old male with the tools to continue now that his wife of 56 years was gone. We can so often do "so little" to aid one another towards health and healing.
Yet, I have come to believe that we are images of God's care, God's grief, and God's joy when we simply offer ourselves as one human to another. I don't have the answer for "why" tragic events happen, but I know that I experience fear, sadness, and anger when they do. I also know that there is little that frustrates me more than a person who says, "God must have wanted this to happen." Maybe the appropriate answer to, "Why is my husband gone?" is better answered through tears and through the holding of the others hand, acknowledging the pain and grief that is felt.
The idea of a God who suffers is relatively new in my theological awareness, but as it relates to my experience of God, it holds great weight. How many times does Scripture attest to God mourning over the actions of his people? And the entire story of God becoming man through Jesus Christ testifies to an emptying of power and a taking on of suffering, in order that creation may know and experience the love of God. Oh, how deep is the Father's love for creation! May we become more and more willing to "walk with" one another in pain and sorrow and experience the love and presence of God in doing so.

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