Life is a precious gift . . . but it also involves pain, losses, trials, tribulations, confusion, and unanswered questions. Thus, life while precious . . . is also fragile.
It seems like when we get to feeling like we have figured out how life works, it suddenly throws us a curve and leaves us scratching our head and wondering what happened. I have certainly been rolling merrily along and suddenly be knocked off of the tracks. It is a troubling experience to land in a hospital and learn that an accident years earlier had actually resulted in a serious neck injury and over time has placed you in danger of paralysis. It is even more confusing a year later to step out of your car at McDonalds and fall in the parking lot because your legs just didn’t work . . . and then have the Neurosurgeon tell you that you have a serious spinal cord injury, and they might not be able to repair the injury.
Just this morning I received word from an attorney friend that her Dad had a heart attack over night and is in ICU in Corpus this morning. They all had plans for today and this wasn’t on any of their radar screens.
Sandy and I have an appointment to look at a house we might purchase. The house is owned by a young widow who is in danger of foreclosure. Her world was turned upside down a couple of years back. She and her husband left home for work one morning and their two daughters left for school . . . that afternoon her husband visited a drug dealer’s house, made his purchase, went into the restroom, shot up and instantly fell to the floor dead! That lady’s life and those of her young daughters changed dramatically . . . and they will spend their remaining years seeking to understand what put him at that dealer’s house that afternoon.
Sometimes such experiences wreck people’s lives. However, other folks manage to deal with the pain and confusion and move forward with life.
I know a fellow who lost a son to alcoholism, a daughter to cancer (both middle aged), and his wife to heart attack. Moreover, his once very successful business encountered a serious problem and he was forced to file Chapter 11 . . . he says he went from the penthouse to the out-house. I know that each loss broke his heart, but I never saw him shed a tear or complain about life being unfair or hard. What I did hear him say on several occasions was: “God is the giver of life, and what transpires in a life is in His providence and authority. He has the right to call His children home as he deems appropriate . . . and He doesn’t need to explain His decisions or reasons to the likes of me.” I know that is a rare thing to see such strength and faith. The simple truth is that most of the rest of us struggle in these confusing seasons. We sincerely want to have faith, live in that faith, and trust God in all things, but sometimes our pain gets in the way.
There is a great difference between the abstract and the concrete as evidence by the precious theologian C. S. Lewis. During 1940, Lewis wrote “The Problem of Pain.” His answer to why an all-good and all-powerful God would allow his creatures to suffer pain was a bit too neat and tidy. Among other things, he wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Then two decades later in his publication, “A Grief Observed,” which he wrote after his wife’s death. God’s megaphone didn’t just rouse Lewis, it nearly shattered him. In writing about his bereavement, he described what it was like to go to God “when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” He added: “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’ ”
A block buster book of a few years ago attempted to answer the question Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. The truth of the matter is that I just don’t know the answer to that question . . . or many others like it. But, here is what I do know . . . There is a loving, all-powerful God out there watching over what is His . . . and I am not Him . . . but I am His . . . bought and paid for in accordance with His Master Plan.
So, I resolve periodically to resist my natural inclination to know and understand everything that comes along . . . and to focus my energy in simply walking by faith and trust Him in all things. It Seems to Me . . . that is about as good as it gets in life on earth.