In This Moment
There it is, that same old question. It comes in many forms... usually when life does not line up with what I would have chosen. Age old wonderings resonate even now in hearts and minds and waiting rooms. Fear rises up and sorrow pushes out the human need to grasp meaning. Why suffering? Why pain? Why loss? Why?
When there are no answers, when every strategy tried seems like running into a wall of solid stone, cold and unyielding this life can be. There are times when diagnoses don't bring resolution. Moments when the frame freezes out of place and one word changes all we know of reality. Why? is the natural knee jerk reaction to that which slices through the mundane, causing every breath to be jagged, every step to feel as if existence is fragmented irrevocably.
I have no final answer. I have no deep spiritual understanding of why there is suffering. Maybe it's because we live in a fallen world, and we've not yet graduated to that place of completeness. Maybe it's because we are sin sick and our bodies do wear out. Maybe it's just the way it is here in this imperfect place. I've not been granted that resounding resolution. I have certainly questioned, yet I don't know why my husband suffers through PTSD. I don't know why my youngest son has SPD and my oldest keeps getting more and more diagnoses, each adding to the list that weighs down my soul. Sometimes, there are no ready answers, despite too many words.
I've been told that suffering is not in vain, that death of my desires opens me up to new birth. And perhaps that is part of its purpose. Yet knowing something good may come of suffering is hollow comfort at best, especially in the moments when pain pierces to the very depths. I have to believe that there is more to be experienced than simply personal growth. When questions remain unanswered, what I hold to is this: The gift to be found in the midst of sorrow is God's tenderness gathering me up, covering me in his comfort. The beauty within loss and struggle is knowing his tender touch, allowing me to be where I am and not be overpowered by fear. Overwhelmingly, what I am finding is that when the whys become more about the Who, my life lens alters.
I've walked through fire holding God at arm's length and I've sought the shelter of his arms when the flames became an inferno, and this I do know; when I am spent, when there is nothing left within me, when I can no longer press on, He invites: Lean in and be covered. And I wonder what took me so long to turn to the one who Nourishes my soul, the one who is Hope in the darkness.
You see, we are not alone. My own experience has been altered by radiant love. I am convinced that:
Neither death, nor life, nor angels or demons, neither the present nor the future-- (and not the past either)-- nor any powers, neither height or depth or anything else in all of creation can separate us from the love of God.
Nothing can separate us from his love. But our own will can keep us from knowing His presence moment to moment. He is right here, but we choose whether to connect with him, whether pain is our companion or not. He offers refuge; a place to lay our heads and sob out the stresses of life, with no condemnation, no judgment, only love without condition. He offers complete and total acceptance. In him, there is no need for pretending. He loves us where we are, how we are, who we are-- no matter what. He is our safe place.
I may not have revelations or answers to sweep away the whys. But I know Who will sustain me through it all, if I simply choose to invite Him into the moment. And so, with the Psalmist I say:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91: 1-2