Friday, March 4, 2011

Embracing Contradiction

"'For those who love God all things work for their good."  
There is no misfortune, there are no catastrophes, there are no sorrows, however extraordinary, that cannot become crowns of glory and of hope when suffered with love for God.' " 
- Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, before his assassination 
My life has become full of contradictions. On the one hand I derive hope from the concept that God can take our worst ordeals & our blackest experiences and through them, create something triumphant and meaningful.  I love the idea of God as the ultimate alchemist, taking darkness and creating light out of it, transforming chaos and pain into things of beauty.  And I do believe that he'll do that somehow in my life.

The problem I have is this:  my belief in God making all things new is NOT much comfort right now. I think it's a fantastic truth about God, but I wish I didn't have to know it so intimately. You know what I mean? It's one thing to know that God can transform our awful experiences into something positive, but it's another to actually experience it.

Well-meaning people often say things like "It'll all work out" or "It'll get better"or "God makes everything beautiful in its time." After losing Vincent, the fact that God can somehow work good through all this crappiness doesn't really make me feel any better.  I don't want to hear anyone tell me that God will make it all work out, or that it will get better soon.  I'm just mad and sad right now.  It doesn't make me feel better to know that perhaps things will get better.  That doesn't help how I feel now.

I'm reminded by something Rabbi Kushner said many years after he lost his first-born child Aaron.  He said that even though he's a better rabbi, counselor, listener, friend and spouse because of Aaron's life and death, he'd still rather have Aaron back and be a worse rabbi, counselor, listener, friend and spouse.  He'd rather have his kid back.

So would I.

But until then I'll keep on liking God's alchemistic powers (and disliking the fact that I need them) as he takes junk and makes it into gold.


Unknown said...

No one feels better when groping in the dark sewer of life. No one loves the feel of slimey, disgusting ickiness of a mirey pit where one is currently in, nor hope is up when passing through them for quite some time now, alone. Yet, the power lies when one is able to...

"...then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou Art! How great Thou Art!"

I guess, those who say those well-meaning words of comfort come from those that just got out of the tunnel themselves. With all my love, Becs...ev

Anonymous said...

Very true...I don't think that knowing really helps us with the experiencing...and yes, we'd rather just not go through it at all. I understand that God never promised us a life without pain or suffering, and yet somehow we long for it to be the case. We'd rather not go through the fire to come forth as Gold. We'd rather not grovel on our hands and knees through the darkness to find those hidden treasures. We'd rather not walk through the valley of the shadow of death to know that He is with us.

And yet somehow, He knows that it is for our good. We cannot know it during the burning heat of the fire. We cannot see anything in the dark. We cannot find Him in the Valley, even though He is right there with us. We can only trust....firmly rely on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing...Jesus Christ!

But it does come to pass and we can find hope trusting in Him. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 121...I will life my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help! I have to consciously choose to do just that, lift my eyes. I have a tendency to focus on what is going on around me and how I feel. He wants me to look up, to see Him. I can't make it without Him, so looking up is my only hope.

I've been praying for you this week & will continue to do so. I know you don't "know" me...I've met you before here at Zion many years ago, but I am praying for you. I'm a mother and I cannot imagine what you are going through...but I am praying for God to give you that glimmer of light to look too! Much love and prayers from NY!

Dan Stringer said...

O Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight...

Rebecca said...

Thanks folks!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. We are praying for your family. I can only imagine what you are going through. I admire the strength you & Dan have shown through this whole nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, This is precisely why I do NOT pray for patience or grace. God doesn't just GIVE it to us, He teaches it to us...through pain!

So instead, I ask God to show me how to be a gracious person in the face of being obscenely wealthy and admired! (I'm still waiting on that one to be answered...)

Love you from Michigan...Nicole

Rebecca said...

Thanks Nicole, you are a very wise woman!