He talked like he was peeling a carrot- stringing a long stream of words, then pausing, finding his place, continuing as the story curled on top of itself in confused coils. His voice twisted and turned through one tragedy after another, leaving me with unanswered questions and an unsettled heart.
Why would his wife leave him? How could she abandon her kids? Why after all of it did he have to lose his house? And then cancer? But the loudest question of them all: Why would God let this happen to this good, faithful man?
As his voice drifted off, I paused and perched on the edge of a barstool at the granite counter top to slow the spinning uncertainty in my head.
After a long silence, I grabbed the first comfortable words I knew, like a threadbare sweater in the shivering cold, “Maybe God is doing this for your good.”
His calm voice tightened like a clenched fist, “MY LIFE was FINE as it was. And everyone else gets to keep on with their happy oblivious lives, so why is God destroying mine?”
We could say his life took a wrong turn. Driving Miss Lucky swerved him down a dark dirt path for an unpleasant detour. Or worse than happenstance, we can point the finger at God. A God that our culture designs to fit in the cracks of our uncertainty. When there’s no other explanation for our misery we add God to the mix and cement our shaky understanding with a Creator that either is doing this for our “greater good” or to punish us for our misdeeds; a power hungry boss boss in the sky, flexing his omnipotent muscles while we scurry beneath the weight of his decisions.
But whoever the miscreant is, no explaining will bring back what has been taken from us.
Lost hope, lost innocence, lost livelihood, lost pride, losing our health, our homes, losing the perfect life we once had, or worse, losing the people we once loved.
Life can be ugly. And our lives can crumble and turn to dust. Beauty can fade to sunken eyes and between wrinkled folds. What is happy and oblivious can turn unfamiliar and lonely. A loving bite of homemade pot pie can turn bitter and divisive over a dinner conversation with your wife one Monday night.
But God never promised us a life without loss.
He promised to redeem what’s lost.
“Why did God destroy mine?” his last words clung to me like a dark fog, blurring my thoughts and spreading doubt.
I prayed silently, then said, “Let God be with you in your mess. Shout, cry, or be silent, but let Him be with you.”
When we wake up in the dark and don’t know where we are, we don’t always want the light of day, we just want someone else to hold onto.
God doesn’t replace the broken pieces of our lives. He sits there with us in the dust and messes. He looks at us in all of our brokenness and loves us exactly as we are. Because we don’t need shiny and new reproductions of ourselves- we need a God who will redeem what we already are.
A mosaic stained glass of our broken pieces: shattered and beautiful and whole again.
We try to fill up our emptiness and cracks with the love of others, the warm oblivion of distraction, and the promises of a way out.
But sometimes we just need to sit in the dark. We need to sit and question. We need to get to the edge of ourselves and look on the other side to where we want to be. Maybe its on the edge of the cliff, looking at our limitations and fears… alone… lost… lonely, that God can finally meet with us.
God can finally show us who we are; He can show us who He is.
And in the dark, when we’re looking for someone … something, to hold onto- He can hold us.