13 May Hope in the Darkness

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.

But take heart, because I have overcome the world (emphasis mine).”

John 16:33

Full disclosure?

I am something of a poor-man’s, Biblical Jacob: wrestling—in my own way—with God (Gen 32).

Though I historically spend at least part of each month mentally grappling with the Star Hanger, His and my bouts have been more frequent this year.

I look at darkness, sin, disease, and death and ask, “Why, God?!”  Thank goodness He can handle my queries.

I think of Psalm 10:1. King David, ultimately a “…man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), wondered, “Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

I hearken back to Jesus: bruised, abandoned, bloodied, beaten and nailed to a cross. It is as though I can still hear Him cry out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me (Matt 27:46).’”

Thankfully, He frequently reminds me of a bittersweet truth: that this world is not my real home. He whispers that this darkness was never His plan.

In my best moments I recall that He made Adam and Eve, gave them a literal Eden, and dwelt there with them. And how they chose—just as I sometimes still choose—sin.

With that awareness I try to thank Him for His mercy… that He (all powerful Creator) patiently endures my doubts.

Occasionally He reminds me of miracles on earth, like bringing my boy through “terminal” cancer. I’m so glad that Michael is still with me. But things don’t usually end that way. So…

In other moments He brings to mind permanent Miracles in the Golden City, such as how He recently, fully healed my father by taking him to Heaven. Admittedly, I have strong, mixed feelings about Pa’s new Address.

I miss Dad so much that, while typing these words, I have to force down the sob that wants to push from my heart, and out my mouth.

I’m so grateful that Jesus shows me that it is okay to experience emotions that come with grief—for we do not serve a God who is far off (Acts 17:27); we snuggle into a loving King who fully understands our suffering. How do I know?

By now you’ve likely heard the story of the Son’s good friend, Lazarus, who died while Jesus was ministering in another town.

Do you recall how our Savior reacted when he got word of his buddy’s passing? In John 11:35 we see His humanity:

He.

WEPT.

The verse doesn’t say that Christ’s eyes welled up. Scripture does not record a mere single, glistening tear touching the Lamb of God’s cheek. No…

He bawled.

He missed His friend.

He knew that this wasn’t the Father’s original plan.

From His reaction I know that’s okay to cry, and acceptable to mourn.

Church attenders are aware of how Lazarus’ story ends. Jesus literally brings him fully back from the dead: absolutely alive, healthy and happy. In a sense, that’s what He did for my papa.

Only, unlike Lazarus, the resurrection didn’t take a few days—Dad’s was instant.  Far Far’s eyes closed on earth and immediately opened to a warm welcome, in the Land beside the Crystal Sea.

Though I didn’t get to embrace my dad just then, he’s waiting there for me. Scripture says he, too, is fully back from the dead: absolutely alive, healthy and happy.

My family doesn’t get to see Far Far just now—but we will get to embrace him before too long, eternally-speaking.

Maybe you’re like Jacob:

Perhaps you’ve found yourself metaphorically tussling with our Maker.

Perchance you are more like Lazarus’ sister, Mary:

She was ticked that Christ hadn’t prevented the death, and demanded an answer.

Conceivably you are responding like Christ:

Having an ugly cry at a devastating loss, even though you know that Heaven is real. And indescribably awesome.

It just might be that you’re reacting like King David:

Asking the “why” questions that El Shaddai is big enough, and kind enough, to handle.

But I imagine you’re more like me.

Flitting back and forth between all of the above.

That’s okay.

He understands.

And He still whispers to you and me:

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Isaiah 40:1