Recently I had a conversation with a friend that went something like this: “Doesn’t God care that I could be homeless for Christmas? What else can he take from me?” Before I could respond this was quickly followed by “And don’t tell me he wouldn’t do that to me…Because he would!” And I had to answer, “yes that is true…but I don’t think he wants to.”
What do you say when the pain is so real and the reality is so grim? The answers seem so cliché. God loves you. He will never leave you. He will take care of you. He will provide. He has a plan for you. I will be praying for you. Time heals. It will get better. These are all true, but they sound so hollow. So what do you say? I am sorry, that sucks.?
I remember hearing all of those things, and thinking, that was all well and good for them to say, but they weren’t walking in my shoes. Until you have been torn apart and put back together those words are just that, words. The only way that they have any meaning is if you can back them up.
Every time these words come out of my mouth I cringe inside, because I am painfully aware of how they sound. So when they do, I always try to qualify it. I say: I know how it feels. Everything you are saying I have said before. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t easy. And yet, I KNOW these things to be true. I KNOW he loves, I KNOW he provides, I KNOW he has a plan, I KNOW time heals, I KNOW it will get better. Not because someone told me so, but because I have been there.
I don’t have easy answers, magic prayers, or 10 step plans. But I know that God is good and he loves you, and if you cry out to him from the depths of your hurt and your pain, he will be with you. While I can’t promise that you won’t be homeless for Christmas, I do know, that even in that, he will provide for you. I can’t promise he won’t take anything else away from you, or give you exactly what you want, because he will do what he needs to do, to get your attention and change your heart, but if he wants your attention and your heart, he has to have a plan for you. I know what it feels like, to feel like nothing will ever be “normal” again, and but I also I know that, with time, it will.
It is weird being on the outside looking in., seeing the pain and the devastation, but because I am not in the middle of it, I can see God’s fingerprints all over it. And I can honestly tell my friend that “It is going to be alright,” because, in the end, it will be. I wish I could just push a button and make the end magically appear. But it doesn’t work that way. We all have to walk through our own trials; we have to do the hard work. We have to surrender ourselves to the work God is doing in us. We have to wrestle with the why questions, even if in the end we realize we may never know why. We heal, we move forward, we come out the other side, stronger and more of the person God wants us to be.
We also come out being the kind of person who can say these words and mean every one.