Confusion is particularly painful. For me, anyway. I want to figure it all out, know who and why and when and how these things like murder and rape and abuse and addiction can be resolved. I want to take the thing in my hand and untie the knots of disorientation until there lies the straight, unbinding yarn of sense. My sense. My order. My control. So when will I learn that some knots are not meant to be untied, and even if they are, it is rarely meant to be done by me?
How about today ... today seems like as good a day as any.
Do I believe in a God who can? Of course I do. And yet - this last week brought news of the worst. A friend's friend murdered while she spoke to him on the phone; another precious girl-mother trapped in the lie of exotic dancing as her only means of earning enough; a prisoner who will not see her father again before he's taken by terminal cancer; addiction robbing lives and futures from sons and mothers alike; the wife of a friend's neighbor - stolen away too early by disease. How can anything but confusion invade these neurons when this is my world, and That is my God? The God who can, but does not untie this knot of disaster all around ...
So, what conclusions can I draw on this exasperatingly white slate? Though I'm not yet sure, I doubt drawing conclusions can be worse than jumping to them, so I'll want to take my time. Wait. On Him. To answer. When He sees I'm ready.
Because premature answers poured into the shallow dish of inexperience would only be spilled anyway.
After C.S. Lewis lost his wife and the love of his life to cancer, his pain was so deep and confusing that sometimes all he could do was journal. The writer wrote. Not of Lions or Witches or Wardrobes, but in his journal of pain, which was later published in a book called A Grief Observed. Down in the dark pit of loss and confusion, Lewis - a great believer and often-quoted man of faith - penned these honest words:
"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.' "
Nearly 34 years on this fallen earth has caused me enough experience to ponder similar thoughts of painful confusion. I want God to be fluffy and happy and warm. But my God is not a kitten. Fortunately.
No, He's neither safe nor predictable. But He is good, and He alone defines good. Even when my conclusions would draw otherwise, His hand covers mine and we illustrate onto the white together - a handsome portrait of His character that takes into account even the worst, which He allows in order to display the best in beautiful contrast. For without the dark, the light would not be gorgeous, and without freedom to disobey Him, we'd never know the bliss of being His slaves.
Grief brought Lewis closer to knowing God, just as it had caused him to question Him.
"And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear ... After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can't give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity."
Oh God, I beg You - give me the strength not to clench fists, but to open my hands for Your capacity.
A friend stopped by today and we ponder what's to be done for this mutual sister facing her post-trauma. A card? A visit? It all seems but trifles. She stares off into the orange and red flames of leaves burning up my neighborhood in autumn glory, and I'm at a loss too. Her next words cut through, but she can't know why. "My husband said it all points back to the consequences of not having fathers."
And without meaning to, it's all about me again, and I'm sorry, but my pain counts also. Too many times I lied to myself and told my bleeding heart it didn't count, and too many times those bottled tears exploded like gasoline. How has not having my father affected me? Who would I be if he were here? What good is being held from me in not having knowledge of where or how he is? It's a familiar spiral and I'm slipping on it again, though I know the signs and I also know how to step back from it.
The same way I step back from all of Satan's traps - with Truth.
"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more." - Psalm 10:17-18
Though some of us are fatherless, we have a Defender. Not a kitten, but a formidable King. Who alone knows this moment from eternity, and alone holds the wisdom of what it will take to get us from here to there. Like a Good Surgeon who cuts only enough of the infection and doesn't stop until it's finished; like a Good Dentist who drills away the decay whether we scream or pass out. He holds my hand when my dad won't or can't, and no begging on my part will cause this Good God to pull back His plan now.
He won't forsake me. Won't force me to love Him, frightening Lion of Judah though He is. Won't snatch control out of my feeble hands, but waits for me to surrender it (even daily). Won't withhold grief or sorrow for the sake of my whining. He won't ever change His character that is ever faithful, loving, and true. And this, my Prince, won't ever leave me stranded without hope.
Yes, He can do anything. But I am so very thankful that there are some things He won't ever do.