I’ve been tricked. ‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus is playing on Pandora. What? It’s an instrumental station – conducive-to-writing music – not old hymns! Aaaaaaugh! Every word cycles through my mind – even though I try to resist; even though not a one is actually sung. All I can do is angrily, uncontrollably weep.
Really? Trust in Jesus? Believe that God is at work in my life? How am I to do so in the midst of such excruciating heartbreak? Is this God’s will? Is this God’s plan? Is this God’s desire?
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus when I’m getting my way, when things are as I want them to be. Not so much, when life feels like it’s going to hell in a hand-basket. When relationships fail. When wounds penetrate deeper than we thought we could ever bear. When disappointment feels like a crushing burden. When sadness catches in our chest so painfully that wee can hardly breathe. When anxiety nearly consumes all sane thought.
Where is the sweetness? Where is the hope? Where is the love? Where is God?
Thank, God. The song just ended . . .
At any given time I probably have 20 draft posts sitting in the queue. I think of something, see something, ponder something and jot down just enough to jog my memory later. Sometimes I return to what I started and craft something more. Often, I end up trashing most of it.
The words above were one of those drafts. I stumbled across it just today. Excruciating memories flooded as I pieced together the scenes of when I wrote it and why. Thankfully, the circumstances of that particular day have passed, but the reality and rawness of the emotions can still be felt, even now. I considered trashing it, but then stopped. Here’s why:
It’s all good and well to skip merrily through our days – full of faith in a God who loves and provides. Until our faith fails because God seems to.
How are we to understand God in such places? How are we to hold on to trust? How are we to believe? How are we to hope? And what are we to do?
I wish I had answers. (Well, I have a few, but they just don’t suffoce in such places and those who tell you different are, in my not-so-humble-opinion, lying.) Here’s the best I can do:
Sometimes (if not often) we just need space, time, and frankly, permission to rage…at God.
So here it is: permission.
Take it. It’s yours. No lighting will strike. No coal in your stocking. No plague of frogs (a story from Exodus – or, if you prefer, the movie, Magnolia.) Be furious. Be pissed. Storm. Curse. Rail. Scream. Weep. Whatever. God’s OK with it. I promise. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, how about these? You are in good company:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
(From Psalm 13)
Why is life given to those with no future,
those God has surrounded with diffculties? I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes. (From Job, Chapter 3)
What I shared at the start of this post is hardly the first of such drafts I’ve written, but never published. Many have been trashed. And many more exist on untitled-but-saved files. They show up in journals scattered throughout my house. And had I kept the thousands of pages onto which I’ve poured my heart over my lifetime, we’d be buried; more lament would be present than praise.
It’s not that my life has been harder than others. It’s not that I’ve endured anything even closely resembling the stories of some. Hardly.
But my life is my own – just like yours. And my life, just like yours, is filled with heartache that deserves to be expressed; that must be expressed. There is no other way. Not really. So says Holocaust survivor, Elie Weisel:
Not to transmit an experience is to betray it.
So pour out your heart. Lament like there’s no tomorrow. And tomorrow will come. I promise.