As almost always happens when I take the time to pray and seek daily reflections for strength and understanding in the midst of life’s tragedies, the ‘answer’ is right there, all around me, in the midst of everything.
Today is the week anniversary from the carnage, blood and suffering of the Boston Marathon explosions, as well as a few days removed from the incredible death and maiming of so many in West, Texas, almost overlooked in the light/darkness of Boston. But then it gets closer to home, as a former church member shared with me a book after worship this past Sunday regarding the brutal killings of her sister and her children years ago. And I will be attending the releasing of balloons this Wednesday honoring the memory of beautiful Carolee Sjodin. “forever 17.” Along with this, my sister in law shared this morning on Facebook her sadness attending the suicide funeral of one of her former high school students…….
“Where is God in all this suffering?????”
……..So I turn to today’s reading, April 22nd, in Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening ~ Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the life You Have”. Mark spoke directly to all of my wonderings by sharing the inner healing in his own life of near death and transformation. He writes:
If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.
One of the most difficult things for us to accept is that beneath all our dreams and disappointments, we live and breathe in abundance. It is hard when in pain to believe that all we ever need is before us, around us, within us. And yet it is true.
Like leafless trees waiting for morning, something as great and as constant as the Earth holds us up and turns us ever so slowly toward the light. Our task is only to be rooted and patient.
Never was this more painfully true for me than during the aftermath of my first chemo treatment. I was in a Holiday Inn at five in the morning after twenty-four hours of vomiting every twenty minutes. I was slumped on the floor, holding the space of a rib that had been removed three weeks earlier. And my wife–in anger, in panic, in desperation–called out, “Where is God?” And from some unknown place in me, through my pale slouched form, I uttered, “Here . . . right here.”
The presence of God has never eliminated pain, only made it more bearable…..Mysterious as it is–no matter our pain or excitement, our drama or circumstance—all that we could hope for is here. We lack nothing…..”
Psalm 23:1 comes to mind, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing!” He prepares for me a table in the presence of my enemies, anoints my head with oil, helps me lay down in peace with His presence, and gives me the hope that not only is He with me now but I will dwell with Him forever! He’s there to carry me on some days and help me to carry others on many more . . .
Mark Nepo and his wife, in the midst of their death, dying, and depression, react much as did Job and his wife in her pain, yelling out to her husband, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” Jobs amazing answer was “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:9-10)
In his pain and depression Job cursed himself and the day he was born, but he stayed open to the ongoing healing power of God in his life and could triumphantly shout, or whisper, the words we sing on Easter morning:
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet[ in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 25:17-19
“WHERE IS GOD IN ALL THIS SUFFERING????”
He’s right here, in the midst of it all, helping us bear it because He bore it on the cross. In the midst of senseless killing, murder, and violent acts we are right to question and cry and yell out . . .
. . . but our God is there . . . is here . . . helping us not only bear the pain, but to be transformed by it .