We had some friends that put an offer in on a house this weekend and the sellers went with a different buyer because they offered more, pretty straightforward as I see it. As I've listened to people try to encourage our friends, I couldn't help but be a little judgy about what people were saying. I actually have great empathy for such a loss, Trever and I were house hunting for two years and we never got the house we wanted, as we referred to it, it was the house that broke our hearts. It is just a house though, it’s walls and toilets and windows. I remember praying for this house when we tried to buy it, it felt like a big enough deal to make a request and I really believed God might intervene. For better or worse, I think very differently about that now.
I heard someone say the other day that claiming God’s intervention on some secondary matter was trivializing the divine. I would never want to assume what God has or hasn’t done in someone’s life, but sometimes I feel so confused by our celebration of God’s miracle of giving a parking spot when we thought we just might not find one, or his divine direction provided through the closing of one door because of course the door he opens will be better. In response to our friends news people said things like, “God knows, we prayed and so we know he has a home waiting for you”, or “we’re disappointed but thanking God for leading the way”.
Rewind back a few weeks from these recent house conversations with friends and one would see me describe our recent infertile diagnosis that allows us only an option of a likely surgical procedure and IVF with just a 30% success rate of pregnancy and a lot of risks. “God’s plan is better than yours”, “you were knit together in your mother’s womb”, “he has guided you here, because we prayed we know this is right and that he is leading your life.”.
I saw a quote from a prominent Christian pastor that said something about how fear is just a sign that we don't trust that God is big enough to handle our problems. What an obnoxious thing to say, even if we all agreed He's big enough to do what He wants, I'm pretty sure we have centuries of evidence that most of the time He just lets it be that bad. Fear is the feeling of being terrified that you'll have to live through the worst anyways, God's intervention or not.
I wonder if we throw around quotes like this to comfort ourselves when we’re hopeful or when it really doesn’t matter all that much, then when life does what it promises it will do and rips our hearts out we are left speechless. Our theology gets real and we have to decide whether we can survive believing in miracles. We have to contemplate what it means to believe God knit us together and what that says about our brokenness. Suddenly the idea that this was His perfect plan that He is leading us through forces us to grapple with God’s goodness and why in the hell He would want this for us, or at least why He won't intervene. All the comfort we find in those phrases is vacuumed out by the fact that it’s actually that bad, and it’s probably not going to get better. I want to respect people’s pain wherever they are at, because no matter how small it is in comparison it’s real for them, and God knows people have it a lot worse than us. I also want to celebrate however people feel God directs and guides them even when their phrases of comfort could be spoken in Swahili for all they mean to me.
I can’t seem to round this one out with something I’ve learned or find a nice clean finish to a moment of chaos. It’s all still foggy silence around me as I sustain the remaining reverberations from the gong of grief. My mind can’t make sense of God as it’s all caught up in the cobwebs of intellectual confusion, so sometimes I sit in silence before the divine and cry, because that’s just about all I can manage.
And then, every once in a while in a moment of pain I find God in a new way, heart to heart without words or knowledge I say, “this is hard” and He says, “I know” and maybe that’s all there is to say.