Labor day weekend reflection
We went to Chicago for Labor Day Weekend to visit some friends who just had a baby. Sunday afternoon I was delighted to take the baby for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful, sunny, cool day. I had her in one of those carriers you strap to the front of your body so the baby gets to face outward to see all the light and shadow and color and movement that we adults take for granted, that we barely notice anymore. Oh to have the eyes of a child again, to see everything anew and fresh... As we walked, and crossed streets and walked through sprinklers and past barking dogs, I realized how protective I felt for this 3-month old. She isn't even my baby and yet I would give my life for her if need be. And the thought occurred to me, how much more so, does our Heavenly Father love us and yearn to protect us, His children, His very creation? Even though I know this to be true in the depths of my being, as soon as I thought the thought, I was wrestling with doubt.
As a counselor, I hear a lot of gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stories. Stories of loss, abuse, injustice, struggle, and pain. I walk with people through these stories and some days more than others, find myself wrestling with questions of faith and trust and purpose. Where were you God? How could you let this happen? Why didn't you interfere? Why didn't you do anything and everything to protect your child from harm, neglect, abuse, loss, etc.? I don't know what to do with those questions, except to continue to wrestle with them and bring them to God. There are no easy, black & white answers.
Perhaps it's instinct that filled me with this great desire to protect my friend's baby. What's harder, and less natural, is letting go. Perhaps the biggest (and hardest) thing to learn as a parent is letting go; and letting go more and more each step of the way: loving, teaching, protecting, preparing, and letting go. There are times, we can't protect our children. There are times we are away from our children when they experience disappointment, hurt, and fear. Letting go, especially those things that are truly important, is never easy. In fact it usually feels downright agonizing, as if a part of you is being ripped from you. Would it not also be agonizing for God to let go of His children, particularly those who are hurting? We can't know the when or why or how of his decisions to intervene or to hold Himself back? The Bible says that God loved us so much He gave up His Son for us. He didn't intervene when the soldiers were beating Jesus, mocking him and hanging him on a cross to die. God didn't intervene when Jesus went to hell and back for us. He didn't intervene for the greater good, for the bigger picture that so often we can't see when we're in the midst of great suffering. Can you picture God, in anguish, ripped apart, holding himself back when we're suffering? For a greater good we're not yet aware of? I have to believe this and trust this to be true. After all, parents have to stand by and watch their children cry in fear and pain during routine vaccinations. And they do this to protect them. To keep them from this momentary pain could do them more harm in the long run. Yet when I think about the Holocaust, 9/11, and client's stories of abuse and loss, when I can't believe and it hurts too much, I keep bringing my questions, my anger, my fears, my sorrow, my heavy burdens to God.
When we look back on the stories of our own lives, we may remember scenes of abuse, loss, neglect, and disappointment where we wonder why God didn't show up; times He felt absent or angry or worse, indifferent. Where do you see Him in those scenes? Is He in the other room, reading the newspaper & drinking coffee while you're screaming in the next room? Is he hiding out in the hallway, peeking in through a crack in the door? Is He standing over You fiercely & accusatory while you're lying on the floor in a fetal position? Is He no where to be found? Or, is He there, right beside you, holding your hand, whispering that you will get through this and He will not leave you. Is He crying with you, struggling within himself to hold back? We can be assured, there will be a day of God's vengeance and justice. Until then, today, I believe we can experience & receive glimpses and tastes of a greater healing, redemption, and restoration to come.