Long Read: Comfort from love
We all encounter moments, sovereign moments, so heinous and challenging, which require us to deepen our faith or simply bow out.
Holy scripture is clear. These moments come to everyone of us at some point in our lives. None of us escape hard times. I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew:
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:45”
All of us sit under this Lord who knows all and sees all. Yet, evil still happens. This week a young man in our community took some legal marijuana on a ski trip, overdosed and in an adverse reaction to the substance tragically ended his own life.
He was a great person. Well adjusted. Not depressed. Looking forward to his life. This makes no sense and has sent shock waves through our city. I know their family is reeling. And this is a good family. I am not sure I can relate in any meaningful way to their suffering except that unimaginable and unexplainable things have happened in my family.
In moments so tragic, so hard, we all start asking questions about our Lord and His goodness. Is there any comfort from His love?
I want to report to you, yes there is.
I remember like yesterday the moment I sat at my daughters bedside listening to the steady drone of heart rate monitors and EEG machines. She had experienced a massive seizure and was heavily sedated. I noted the cold functionality of all the machines and tubes. I was perplexed by how little the neurologist really knew about what was going on. Battle hardened ER nurses were careful and measured in offering hope. It was like biting metal. Things were unnatural. I could not explain it or fix it.
I could only wait for the outcome. No decisions could be made. No influencing. No leadership necessary or even relevant. Only reality. Harsh reality. I could not understand why I was in a situation where I could not change course. How did Elora and I end up here in the hospital room? I hadn’t signed up for calamity.
It just happened.
This produced in me a myriad of emotions. Anger, frustration, fear, confusion. My thoughts ran the gamut. Why did this happen? Will she be ok? Why are all my friends’ kids healthy? I feel so alone. Where are you Lord? Will You come through for us? My prevailing feelings turned to one central theme: Selfishness. I kept whispering under my breadth “Why is this happening to ME?” Yet, I have to confess it was my daughter who was in a horrible state. I kept thinking of me. My life of significance.
At my daughter’s bedside I failed to recognize sovereignty. When we describe the Lord as sovereign it is similar to describing a nation as sovereign. It simply means the entity is operating independently, without outside influence. Nations who act sovereignly are displaying unprecedented power. Given they were in a position of weakness they would be unable to operate with independence. So, the Father stepped into our lives, right next to my daughter’s hospital bed and began to act on His own.
I wish I knew Him more. When these times hit, admittedly, I attempt to take control, and try to act on my own behalf. The barrage of lies subtly state “He is not good. He is not present. He does not care. You need to do something!” Yet this is farthest from the truth. He is operating independently in ways, with knowledge, and with resources only available to an all powerful, good Sovereign Lord.
Several years back my neighbor from across the street was experiencing unimaginable pain and fear as her husband was sent to prison for embezzling money from his clients. At one of her lowest most vulnerable moments she lamented “It is NOT supposed to be this WAY!” I thought of my emotions at that hospital beside. We were on equal playing fields. Reality was setting in for her. Another friend experienced a divorce and laments “It is not supposed to be this way!” Another loses his job over an injustice at work. Again, it is not supposed to be this way. Another friend endures a double mastectomy. It was never in her plans.
This week some good parents lost a good son. Is there any comfort in His love? When we bite the steel of the blade, we immediately ask such questions while taking up arms to protect ourselves. It seems we all encounter a point in time where our insides are disoriented and challenged in the goodness of the Lord. Absolutely there is comfort from His love. And because ALL of us experience these moments then the comfort comes when we join together. Paul writes in Phillipians:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
I am thinking of our community tonight. Especially the family who has lost their son. I am praying for them comfort. I hope they find glimpses of the Lord’s Sovereign hand. I hope they find comfort in their closest friends, family, and community. I pray our community of faith will offer deep spirited grace and withhold judgement. And I hope and pray for anyone reading this tonight that they would git a glimpse of what it means to remain in right standing with Jesus. To abide in Him and His presence. Proverbs comforts us as we lean forward into Him:
“for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again”