When I returned to my ancestral home I knew the experience would be filled with emotion. We went to honor a departed loved one. Ashes would be spread, cemetery visited, decaying old town that holds our memories viewed and mourned.
Yet I cried for completely unexpected reasons. I’ve written before about my cluelessness regarding my own inner landscape.
My grandmother passed away in 1991 in her early seventies. Too young, as far as I’m concerned—more than a decade younger than her own mother when she died. Do you see the Why God? question buried in those words?
She had an enormous impact on my life. I still miss her every day. She is with the Lord.
At this recent family memorial service, when Grandma’s two best friends greeted me, I didn’t expect to cry. I hugged them and told them that simply seeing them made me miss her all over again. They had read my novel Refuge and were sharing it with others. They were proud of me. It was like Grandma reaching out from the grave to support and encourage me.
But she is gone. Her house has burned down.
How could her friends be standing there in front of me, beautiful and healthy and alive? Why was she gone, yet they lived?
Unaware of the effect on my inner landscape, I buried these questions, feeling her loss, but not rationally dissecting my emotions. Before the repressed questions could bubble to the top they made me violently ill, the emotions churning my gut. Can a Christian woman think such things?
Stating and reciting theological truth didn’t help or comfort. I know these facts, and I believe them. But now I also know a larger truth. I now comprehend the love of God in a fuller way than I did twenty-three years ago when she passed.
I know I can throw my Why God? question at God, and he won’t flinch. Neither will be scorch me with a lightening strike. He isn’t Zeus. During my young life, I had assumed he was.
No. He is a God of mercy. I can ask the question, and he is near to me, not angry or disappointed.
He is the God who was crushed in Gethsemane, who begged his Father to let the cup pass if there were any way, even though he himself was the one who had devised the plan. He is the God who faced death for us.
I’ve done a lot of hurt to myself during years of suffering by burying my pain, thinking my feelings were inappropriate, so they should be denied and ignored. In the past I couldn’t ask God the question, couldn’t say the whys. I prayed liar’s prayers, saying what I should say, not what I truly felt in my heart, as if God didn’t already know and wouldn’t love me if I admitted what was true of myself. I did not bare my heart to God.
But now I’m more familiar with God’s Word. I’ve studied Job, Jeremiah, Paul’s and Peter’s writings, and Habakkuk. I’ve read the questions hurled. I’ve seen God’s answers. I know him better. He wants me to turn to him honestly. This is a lovers’ relationship.
Life on this earth hurts. Everyone we love dies. But we were created for eternity. We crave unending days of love and laughter, because this is how God designed us. We are made in his image.
Pouring out our tears and the agony of our inner landscape is how lovers talk. Jesus is the Lover of our souls. This is how we talk to our God. He is like a bridegroom, and we are the bride.
We thank him for who he is, we thank him for his promises, we affirm our trust in him, and we tell him exactly how our emotions feel as we face the reality of death. It still stings. And it will sting until he returns. This is why we yearn for his return.
In my honesty with him, he comforts me most. How about you?
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” — 2 Ch 20:12