Sunday, January 6, 2013

Escape From the Prison of How and Why

All day long I have little voices constantly asking me questions.  "Mommy, why can't I have another piece of candy?  When are we going roller skating?  Can my friend come over and play?  Why do I have to clean my room EVERY day? Where's my planner?  What's for dinner?  When can I get a brother?  And WHEN IS DADDY COMING HOME????"

Don't you ever wonder if God doesn't just feel as exasperated as I do when the questions come firing at me one after the other?  I know that there are many days I must sound just like my children, asking God why and when and how over and over again.  Man, do we ever want answers!!

In the book "Glorious Ruin", Tullian Tchividjian says "Our hope is not 'Jesus plus an explanation of why suffering happens' or 'Jesus plus an explanation about why you have this job, that spouse, those circumstances or this pain'.  Our hope is that God is especially present in our suffering."  Our hope is Jesus.  Not Jesus plus an explanation.  

Ouch.  I confess, sometimes I just want the explanation.

And if I can just be frank, the Church in general (myself included) stinks at not wanting to give an explanation for everything.  We think that life should be neat and tidy, just like God.  But guess what?  I don't think God is neat and tidy.  I think God is a beautiful mystery who is often experienced most closely and intimately in times of suffering and anguish.  I believe strongly that our inability to simply sit alongside a suffering brother or sister, in love, without offering explanations is hurting us.  It perpetuates the feeling that those who are in a "dark night of the soul" so to speak, simply need to believe more for answers so that they can get out of the darkness and fast. There is no room for struggle or sorrow or pain.  And that is so unfortunate, because it can be precisely through that darkness that God ushers in the deepest revelations of who He is.  

"There's a tempting notion that if we only grasped God's will more clearly; if we only knew something we don't know now, our wounds would hurt less.  But the Gospel is not ultimately a defense from pain and suffering; rather, it is the message of God's rescue through pain.  It allows us to drop our defenses, to escape not from pain, but from the prison of how and why to the freedom of Who."

I think when we see "Who", that ultimately every other question we have either gets answered or fades away in the light of God.  We find Him to be sufficient.  

And let's not mistake darkness or the wilderness times for things to be hurried through.  As much as we may very well want to get the heck out of there, God has something for us in that space that we might not otherwise find.  I think about the stupid, beautiful Israelites in the book of Exodus, who were rescued from slavery, then wandered in the desert for forty years, wavering in unbelief despite the miraculous hand of God and His presence with them.  When they entered the Promised Land finally, they were a people marked by suffering AND rescue.  I have to believe that God was shaping them during those years - that they walked into the Promised Land a people of deeper faith and character.  And so shall we, friends.  So shall we. 

It's not answers we need.  It's Presence.  So, may we seek the "Who" and not the how or why.  And may we be faithful to point each other to the One who rescues through pain and reveals Himself even in the darkness.  


  1. Amy, I love this and am wrestling with this very thing lately! Would you be willing to let us feature this on We Are Grafted In? Since you have contributed previously, I would just need your permission. Thanks!
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    smurphy28 @ juno . com