Although none of these situations involve me directly, I still find I am overwhelmed with heartache.
I don't know why I do that. I really wish I could be the person who can offer a little prayer, a "that is just awful, I'm so sorry", and then return to normal, but I can't. Don't get me wrong, I wish it were because I am a tender, compassionate spirit, but I wonder if it isn't something far more selfish. I haven't faced a great deal of loss in my life, and I wonder if I hurt for others as some sort of "penance" that my life has been fairly pain free. I don't know. All I do know is that when people hurt like this, and I don't understand the why of it all, I end up in a futile wrestling match with God and a physical ache in my chest.
I believe in the goodness of God. I believe that God is ultimately in control. Once in a sermon a pastor said that God rules the universe "with His feet up". I like that visual - God kicked back with His feet up on the celestial coffee table never taking His eyes off His people, yet not for a moment caught off guard or rattled. I know that is who He is.
I also know there are people who believe that if you are a faithful follower of God, you are somehow immune from the hurts of life. Last weekend as I was flipping channels I heard a TV evangelist say that when we truly believe in God and claim His promises, He gives us a "blank check" in regards to prayer. I couldn't decide whether to throw something at the TV or throw up.
Let me say up front, I am not a biblical scholar (though I wish I were). But I have spent a small amount of time studying the Bible in depth - and recently some of the passages the misguided TV evangelist quoted - and no where does God extend us a "blank check" with regards to our prayer requests. You are not more "holy" if you live a life free of pain, and you are not an ounce "less valuable" in the kingdom if you heart has been shattered by life circumstances. It's a lie from the pit of hell.
Do I wish it were true? Yes. If I got everything I asked for in prayer I know three families that would hurt far less this week. My chest would ache less this week. It sounds so good to me.
I was wrestling with all of this while walking my dog this week, and if I am totally, transparently honest I didn't arrive at any good answer to sum up this blog post. I wish I could say I have full assurance of the value of the heartaches around me, but I truly don't see it now. I am not taking God off His throne by saying that. There are some things that I fear I will wrestle with every day this side of heaven, and although I wish I could be in charge and eliminate the pain, I know I just can't.
As I walked with my dog, I noticed the rusted, bent down wire fence along the trail supported the most gloriously scented honeysuckle bushes. I had forgotten just how much I love the smell of honeysuckle, and I was caught off guard by how delighted I was as the breeze carried the scent. It was simply lovely. For a moment I could think of nothing else but how amazing this one creation of God is.
And I realized that while I wish I had a "blank check" in prayer, I would never have thought to pray for the sweet, delicious smell of yards and yards of honeysuckle. I know it is such a little thing when the aches of life are so large and piercing, but it was a sweet reminder that God is in charge. He is present. He loves. He has comfort prepared for those who hurt. While I wish He would have spared these families their heartache, I am reminded He will minister to them in their deep grief with those small, nearly imperceptible moments of honeysuckle.