While I have been busy with plans and dreams and wonderings, a couple of my close friends are grieving the loss of loved ones. One friend lost her grandfather, another her two-year-old cousin and an aunt. Yet another friend almost lost a grandfather, and all these tugs on the silvery thin strings of life are reminding me of how close my own family has come, and when the lines have indeed been cut. I am remembering the pain and feeling it afresh for my friends and their losses.
I miss the ocean. Everything drowns in its magic tonic of noise and salt. I want to feel the sting of it. I want to feel it trying to pull me in and hold me under even as it must buoy me up. So is the jealous love of our God, who pulls us by our feet into the chasm of His grace, and lifts us up to the blinding sunlit surface of His love. He takes away and gives back without thought to how it must look and feel to humans, asking us only to trust He understands our pain even as He must ignore it for the call of His own illustrious glory.
Still, I want to rage. I want to break things. I want to run and run and run. Death is unjust. It is savage. It is not kind and it is not gentle. The world is not safe for us. It is not benign. It is lethal, cruel and toxic. Our bodies age. Get sick. Fester with infection and fever. Break. Shatter. Go crazy with hurt. How does anyone stay sane in a world like ours? With all my knowledge of how good God is, I am not Him, I am only human and I am capable of anger that is unrighteous. In the face of the bewildering death of a child, I am speechlessly angry. How can He say He knows about our pain and not change it back?
Our God hears us crying. He hears the ripping of our heart when we grieve. And He will not remain silent or stoic, but He will bring the morning and His arms will never loosen from around us. When I want to push Him away because I don’t understand why He is doing something, He pulls me closer still until I am suffocated by His holiness and His sovereignty. I may still fight, but eventually I am calmed and exhausted and all I can do is lift my face and show Him my tears and hand Him the pieces of my heart that I cannot make whole again.
He promises with His time that He will heal all hurts. Time, a concept people have invented, traps us, but it does not contain the greatness of our God. I have no words for my friends that have to live and move right now in the shadow of sorrow. I can only say Jesus’s name over and over and think of the word cling. When you want to let go because you do not understand, cling to Him. When you want to lash out at Him because you think He does not understand, cling to Him.
I don’t want to say the wrong things, I don’t want to say the cliche things. I want to say the things that are true, and I have to hold on to the belief that God does understand our pain, though it is necessary in our broken world that He let it continue until He is ready to make all right again. That’s harsh in my human ears and it feels like a serrated knife on a raw bleeding grieving heart, but it is true. He is not ignoring your pain. He aches because He cannot tolerate sin, and He is victorious because He has already conquered that sin in ways we can only spiritually glimpse and attempt to grasp.
How feeble is life, and how precarious. Like walking a tightrope you don’t know you’re on. It trembles and wavers. It vibrates and you reach for something to steady yourself but only wisps of air meet your fingers. The panic of falling could choke you. Your fast-beating heart could make your whole body beat in time as you tense for the crash that must come when your bones hit the pavement. But I pray when you reach out the panic does not overtake you. I pray you feel the hand of God grasping your hand, enveloping your heart. As He wounds, so He heals. When you have no strength to cling to Him, He promises to hold you tightly. He cannot break a promise; He must do as He says, and so I know He has not forgotten you and He will never let you go.
A love like that could crush you.
A love like that could remake you.