I know you by sight and by feel and by smell. I have held you shaking in my arms, salty tears streaming down my shoulder. I have seen you crack and hide and run away from the light. I have heard your cries, and I know your weariness.
I suppose there are people who believe you are an enigma, or at the very least a rarity here in this western world. Our lives abound with wealth and prosperity, and surely that should chase away the darkness. But maybe those people have never sat helpless in the NICU, waited decades for prayers that go seemingly unanswered, spent a freezing night sleeping on the streets, gotten a late night call that she's leaving again, or prayed for them when shackling shame hunts their souls again.
Oh, yes, grieving heart, I know you're real and I know you're present.
Has there ever been a generation who didn't know the bitter taste of sons and daughters marching away angry, of lonely and empty rooms, of hunger that will not subside, and of husbands or wives who wouldn't stay true?
So what's the point, then? Is all our hope and faith for nothing? Are we stupid or are we brave to ask that question, when our souls unravel as evil seems to win again?
A word of warning for you: someone's going to give you some crap advice, dear hurting heart. They will mean well, as they grope about for the reason you are in pain. Smile at them, nod, and then walk on. Job's friends meant well, too.
Others will tell you your grief is proof that life is meaningless. They will tell your God is either a sadistic warlord or He doesn't exist at all. Job's wife told him to curse God and die. There will be people who won't be able to handle your grieving, it will make them so very afraid. They will try to reconcile and end it any way they can.
But Job wouldn't take anyone's advice when what he really needed was to swallow the humbling presence of the God who let it all happen.
What kind of God says, "Who do you think you are?" when a desperate person demands answers? Maybe God needs to work on His postmodern apologetic strategies. Or maybe we need a God who reigns and wills above and beyond what we can understand. I realize that sounds like a copout, but it's at least worth considering.
I think that's the choice you'll have to make for yourself, dear friend of grief. Maybe not today, but eventually. You'll decide for yourself if the One who led you into the desert of pain is the One you will cling to for hope. Perhaps if you can be patient, you will find that life indeed springs from death, and that while the ache may never fully leave, enduring it will transform you and you will find reason to praise Him in the midst of your suffering.
And, you know what? I'm not even going to try to convince you that He is a good God. Because you'll taste Him yourself as you drink the cup He's placed in front of you. Given my own humbling cup of His will, I know God doesn't need my help to reveal His love and goodness to the heart hungering after His righteousness.
Today all I know to offer you is friendship, to sit in the dark with you and wait for Christ's new life to rise afresh in your heart an in your life. While we linger here, may this Psalm sing over us: