Where is God in all This Mess?

Suffering is everywhere. Grief, loss, brokenness. Everywhere. Everyday.

Everyday, I meet or read about a mother who has lost her child. My inbox is full of mothers waiting for SGM shipments to honor the memory of these precious lives.

A couple days ago, one of my best friends (mommy to baby Sawyer), kissed her sweet boy and sent him off to the operating room where he endured his second open heart surgery. He is a little more than one year old. He is full of life and joy, seemingly unaware of the precarious way he entered this world and ridiculously resilient although he has been poked and prodded by various physicians throughout his brief time on planet earth. (The surgery went well, and sweet Sawyer is recovering…please keep him in your prayers.)

This week, after one of the plethora of high school golf matches that fill my afternoons, I sat for a couple hours talking with another dear friend and co-worker, mother to my son’s best friend. Her husband was a co-worker of mine, an amazing father to her three boys (the youngest a senior), a beloved girls’ basketball coach, and a devoted member of our community. The fourth anniversary of his sudden death is approaching. We spoke of the missing…of the reconciling how God could let this happen…and why. I couldn’t shake the image of my beautiful friend sitting in the church pew with her three boys beside her and his casket in the front of the church. I have often thought of the grief I have walked through, and the times Tim has held me up when I couldn’t stand…held me when I woke up sobbing…covered for me when I couldn’t leave my bedroom…held my hand and led me when I couldn’t see where to walk. My friend has walked where I have not. Grief I have known, but grief without him…I dare not even speak of it. It’s the kind none of us want to know, and yet she walks this path…bravely and beautifully. The world keeps turning…the sun rises and sets. She goes to work everyday, and loves her boys, and aches for the love of her life.

A student is watching his father bravely battle cancer.

Another boy I know loves the color pink, because his mother is fighting cancer…for at least the third time. His grandfather is currently in the hospital…not doing well.

There are other children…who come to school with hurts we cannot imagine. Everyday.

And, the world keeps turning. The sun rises and sets.

The question hangs in the air. It’s the one I struggle to answer when face to face with such grief. The one that won’t tolerate some well-thought out response with flowery prose. The one that looks skeptically at the scriptures that promise comfort and peace. It’s the one I don’t have an answer to…at least not a worthy answer.

Where is God in all this pain…and why did He let this happen?


Sure, I could wax poetic with a thousand cliches and pat answers. There are beautiful scriptures…examples of faith. Words that are true and right. But, when standing face to face with the raw agony of a heart twisted in pain like that….sometimes I am rendered speechless. Sometimes there are no words…no answers.

I could say that this world is not the one He intended for us. The suffering, grief, and destruction are part of life in this fallen world. They are not Who He is. He is the love that carries us, the peace that sustains us, the grace that offers redemption. He is in the beauty born of the ashes.

My words will not fill the ache of a mother’s empty arms or the agony of living life on this earth without the one she loves. Many times, I say nothing or very little and simply offer prayers and/or scripture. But, sometimes I long for something to say…some hope to cling to.

In April 2010, Kristin wrote this post, wondering about God and His intentions…wrestling honestly with her grief and the sometimes hurtful words of others. The response that poured out of me (along with buckets of tears) was the closest I have ever come to saying what I wish could be said to an aching heart. Still…the words are far from adequate. I copied my comment from her blog and pasted below:

Kristin,

I am so sorry people have used words that are hurtful. I’m reading your words with tears pouring down my face…so sorry for the hurt you are feeling. I can feel the strength of it through your words. The anger…the pain…the feelings of abandonment. They are bigger than anything else right now. Right now, there are no perfect answers or words tied up in a neat bow to explain the suffering and death of your sweet baby girl…and the continuation of loss you feel facing infertility. There are no words to make that better or explain why. I know the pain is bigger than anything else…that you feel like He has let you down, turned His back on you. You are in the thick of grief…heavy, relentless, merciless grief.

You may read my blog and see where I am now…it isn’t a place I’ve always been. The process of getting beauty from ashes is no walk in the park. There were years of healing, brokenness, restoration, surrender, and learning to trust Him. He is still piecing some things back together in my life.

The words I want to tell you are going to seem so cotton candy right now. But, they are true…and maybe you can take some comfort in knowing that they are coming from someone who has walked through some stuff. 

God doesn’t intend suffering, pain, death, sickness, cancer, grief…any of it. He never intended it. He isn’t the author of it. And, as a loving Father who values you enough to send His own Son to suffer horribly and die in your place….He takes no pleasure in your pain. He loves you and His heart breaks for you…with you… I get that you can’t feel Him right now…that the pain is too much. I get it, and so does He. When I even try to think of the depth of your pain, it seems like such bologna as I’m writing it…knowing that you are in a place to receive this right now, and desperately hoping that my words do nothing to pour salt in your gaping wounds…

(To be continued in next comment)

Ridiculously long comment continued….

You may be thinking…O.K…He didn’t intend it, but He allowed it. He didn’t stop it. He didn’t protect her. He didn’t protect me. You’re right…He didn’t stop it from happening…and I don’t have an answer for that. Not one that will make it better. His ways are not our ways…and only He sees the beginning from the end. It is true that there are beautiful things that come from the ashes of our brokenness. And God can use all things in our lives to shape and mold us. 

But, when you are in the pit sinking…where you are, those words sometimes don’t help…and may even bring hurt. Who wants to hear about being shaped and molded when your arms are aching for your baby, your body is broken, and your heart is in pieces, and your mind is plagued with memories of the suffering of your precious child? You can’t see the hope of that promise from the pit. Can’t feel the comfort of it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there…doesn’t mean that He isn’t there…and I know me saying it doesn’t make you feel better. 
From my pit…I didn’t want to hear about God’s will…didn’t want to hear about the fruit that would come…didn’t want to count it all joy…didn’t want the witty words and well-meaning verses…didn’t want the pretty flowers…certainly didn’t want to listen to any miracle stories…almost every promise from scripture or well-meaning words from Christians brought pain. I just wanted my babies. And I just wanted my mother. And…they weren’t here…

For a time, I didn’t want to hear about the promises and hope.

But…in time when, I did. I wanted to hold on to the promise of the joy set before me…wanted to know that although weeping may last for a night…joy would come in the morning. I didn’t know when morning would come to my house and stay…but one day, on my knees, crying bitter tears…I felt myself surrender all that I had wanted and just let Him carry me. There’s no formula or timetable to come to that place…and it sounds so easy and tied up in a pretty bow as I’m writing it right now. It wasn’t. And, it wasn’t a place I could come to on my own…

Here’s the thing, I believe as the bible says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Whether we are Christians or not, we will find suffering and trouble in this world. It’s a guarantee. We will walk through these valleys with or without Him. The bottom line is…I’d rather walk through it with Him than without Him.

There is unspeakable beauty that has grown in our lives from the ashes of our sorrow. I don’t believe that God sent the sorrow and loss…and I never would have chosen it. But, He has used it to make us who we are…to draw us to Him…to teach us to love one another. I’m saying that, not to rub salt in your wounds, but to tell you that there is hope for healing. Even in this darkness…light can shine again.

And, Kristin…even when you can’t feel Him, He is holding you. He will carry you…He is carrying you. When you are too weak to reach for Him, He still holds you. When you are too angry to hear Him…to go to Him…He waits for you. And…no matter how hurt, angry, deserted, lost, hopeless, broken…no matter how long it takes…He will wait for you. He will be there with open arms. He loves you with a relentless love. A love that can take your anger, your sorrow, your questioning, your doubt, your pain…
His only intention is tTo love, heal, save, and carry you….

You, my dear, are not a failure….and no one has the right to judge your “performance” in the pits of grief. No one.

I hope you don’t mind my long comment…and all of my words. Words that I know do nothing to “fix” the brokenness. Please know that they have all been written in love…my heart is breaking with you…
I pray nothing I’ve said added to your pain…

Love and Continued prayers,
Kelly

I know this post is getting long, but I wanted to share these thoughts for the mothers newly walking this path…or those with other struggles feeling hurt and wondering where God is in all of this. I’ve asked that a few times, and He is always faithful to answer. God loves honest, real questions. And, He loves to meet us where we are. There is no pit so deep He cannot find us. For further thoughts and scripture on where God is when we are in the pit of despair, visit this post: Letting Go and Holding On

Comments

  1. I remember Kristin's post and your comment. I remember your comment made me cry! I def believe that God is in the mess with us. I know for some people it is hard to believe or feel Him near but He's there even when He feels like he's a million miles away.

    I understand the struggle that some people have. God was incredibly close to me after the diagnosis, during my pregnancy, and after her birth. My faith felt strong. But around 6 months I felt very tested and God felt far away and I struggled. Sometimes I forget that not everyone feels such closeness to God in their grief.

  2. lost--for--words says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have had so any questions and struggles with faith since not only losing my daugher, but living through the trauma of watching her suffer during her short life as well. I have spoken to many people around me who are strong in their faith and have never really gotten any clear answers…. Even DP who is very solid in his Christian beliefs and very knowledgeable about the bible has never been able to answer most of my questions that I have asked in trying to undersl
    tand things better. Your words very clearly come straight from your heart and have given me lots to think about.

    By the way, I just received the book you sent from Mattie's auction yesterday! It seemed to have sat at the post office for about a week and I was not notified. I really look forward to reading it. Although we did not know of our daughter's diagnosis prior to the day of her birth, I know there will be lots I can relate to with the decisions/things we did in the fifteen days she lived, and also insight to how things might've been if we had known of her condition before her birth and had some time to wrap our minds around it. Thank you!

  3. I am sitting here in tears, as your words spoke to a much needed area of my heart.

    I am so glad that I read this today!

    Thank you for sharing.

    It IS so difficult for us to feel God's presence when we are walking through such pain. Yet knowing that He is there, even in the feeling of silence…can bring comfort.

  4. This grief thing is so hard for me. We are suffering so much loss in our little community. Many people with cancer, and some have passed away, a very young mother, the sudden loss of a father….and now a newborn. My daughter lost a classmate, a Senior and it has been a daily reminder that loss is individual to each person, and the way one reacts is different depending on the person. I feel very close to God through all of this, not necessarily understanding, but finding myself talking to him and crying to him….my children's sermon Sunday is going to be around the song, "He knows my name". Just as we never forget a loved one we have lost, Jesus never forgets us. We don't have to tell him our names every time we come to him…He knows our names. I read the flyer ahead of time and the sermon is…."Why do we have to suffer?" Hopefully I will find out all the answers to the world's questions and I will share it with you next week. Love you and thank you for your words….

  5. I have a few friends who have just lost babies. a beautiful post…

  6. Jennifer Ross says:

    It has been awhile since I have read anything this emotional. It's so good to hold eachother up and to hold one another in prayer.

    I really liked your comment that you left Kristin, and believe that God speaks through us to others. Do you ever have those times when you say something to comfort someone, and you don't even know where it came from? I love when that happens. The power of God! Just love it….. and I love sharing my heart with others, hoping and praying that I am making some kind of a difference in their lives….. just as you have touched so many lives with the beauty released in your words, straight from your heart.

    Lots of love…

  7. He is with me. He has cried with me and held me up too many times. I believe He was heartbroken just as I was when my son died. I can see that now but was a struggle for me to remember that at the worst times. Times when I thought, "where's my miracle?" "why me?" My heart breaks for those parents who don't have faith. For those that believe this is it. I do understand their perspective though, the questions and the disbelief.
    One of my favourite quotes is from a movie and it says "Jesus did not come to free us from pain, He came to give us the strength to bear it."

  8. Beautifully written…thank you for bringing such an important topic back to light. Even those of us who aren't as new to this journey as we used to be still need to hear it. I'm approaching one year since losing my baby and I know I have a long road to go yet…full of more questions, tears, hopes, frustrations. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart.

  9. Kelly, I meant to comment on this the other day but was just reading as I had a minute at the doctor. Now, all the things I wanted to say have escaped me. No matter, because I remember the most important thing… I thought your words were a blessing and powerful testimony when I read them last year and still see them so very much as so now… What a precious, precious heart you have. I have no doubt that our Father is so pleased with your representation of His love!

  10. Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear.

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