The Answer to Why: When We Cannot See Clearly

One of my absolute favorite moments in the entire Chronicles of Narnia series is found in the book “The Horse and His Boy.” The voice of Aslan is having a conversation with Shasta about who He is and some circumstances that had transpired:

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-“
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

It may seem strange that this is one of my favorite moments in the series, but it so beautifully captures the multi-faceted nature of God and how little our understanding is of the bigger picture of our lives. God is the God who binds and heals and we love that side of God. Yet, on the other side of the coin, God is the God who wounds and “tears to pieces” so that He may heal us. Not just the God who “allows bad things” but a fierce and passionate God who actually wounds us in order than He may heal us to become more like Him.

Oh, how I am learning this right now!

I don’t know about you, but when you’re going through the very middle of a hard time all you can think about is your pain and start grasping at ways to make it stop. Did I do something to bring this on myself? Is this a punishment? Why is this happening to me? What sequential steps should I take to make it stop? How long will this pain last? 

It is easy to lose hope when the circumstances of your life seem to become a perfect storm that threatens to drown you forever. I am convinced that the absolute hardest thing to do is to face your difficult circumstances head on with a heart that is aching from exhaustion and tears streaming down your face and remember that God is good.

We don’t know why life can get so painful for us sometimes and not ever seem that way for others, but this is your story – not someone else’s. Whether you’ve always struggled with things people seem to manage so easily, or whether you have always struggled financially no matter how hard you’ve tried, or whether you’ve been single for so long and feel so lonely when you’re a great catch who just wants someone to share life with, or whether you suffer from a physical sickness and don’t feel like you did anything to deserve it, or whether you’ve unexpectedly lost a loved one and losing them seemed and felt so utterly pointless, or whether – like me – you long for a child of your own when it seems like every drunken teenager and drug addict you encounter is getting pregnant these days. But there is a bigger picture. You don’t know someone else’s story and neither do I.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as God sees us, knowing him directly just as He knows us!” – 1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message

Isn’t that the ultimate prize? More than the financially stability we wish for, more than the spouse we long for, more than the baby we ache for – to know God and have a deeper, more committed personal relationship with Him is the answer to everything we’re searching for and the ultimate goal of this life. This life and all it’s blessings are temporary and just a shadow of the One who made us and calls us to know Him.

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I spoke recently in Florida with a friend who said that looking back she was grateful for their struggle with infertility. She said she never would have even pictured herself saying such a thing when she was going through it. She always just wished it away and yearned for a pregnancy/baby to take away her sorrow and struggle. Yet, during that time, she explained that she grew closer to God than she ever was before. Her struggle with infertility deepened her faith and has become part of her testimony. Now that she has come through it and is out on the other side, she said she wouldn’t go back and change anything because knowing God and trusting Him more was worth every tear, every dark night of the soul, and every disappointed hope.

I’ve never heard something more beautiful and more encouraging.

In contrast, the countless people who have told me to just “Stay positive,” “Don’t stress,” or “Believe you’re healed and you will be” – that advice, although laced with good intentions, fell short of doing anything more than isolating me further. How can you paste on a smile while you’re choking down tears? Is that even normal? How do you not stress when every single deviation from normal in your body makes you wonder if you’re pregnant? And despite my unwavering and solid faith that God is The Healer, it doesn’t mean that 24 cycles of wishing and hoping with no resulting pregnancy have simply been a result of me just. not. believing. enough. That’s ridiculous.

How much more beautiful is it to simply respond to God from the reality of exactly where we are…. our anger, our pain, our bitterness, our weeping, and my poly-cystic ridden, hormonally-jacked-up body that betrays my greatest longing every single month. The invitation to cry out to God in our pain and confusion, confess our despair and faltering faith, and beg for peace and a greater faith despite circumstances is what drives us closer to Him and brings Him the most glory.

We only have our story to live and we won’t always understand it or know the answers to our biggest question: “WHY?!” – but God is still good. He sees the bigger picture and invites us to wait, to hope, and to trust.

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It’s Gonna Be Worth It

Less than 2 weeks ago I watched my brother commit himself to love his new beautiful bride, Anne, as long as they both should live. Both of them are in their late twenties and had been waiting so very, very long for the right person to come along.

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This picture just makes me want to cry all over again (I cried all the way through the ceremony as soon as my brother began crying). It is such a picture of the overwhelming joy and wonder of  God’s faithfulness:

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This next picture I am sharing just to emphasize how incredible their photographer was at capturing the beautiful and intense moments throughout the whole day. Here the bride is crying because her parents (who are in Europe and were denied visa into the country in order to attend the wedding) are praying over her and Matt via Skype:

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It was a breathtakingly beautiful ceremony and a really fun reception!

It is amazing to me every time I see such an obviously ordained story play out right before my eyes. They were made for each other. They are God’s very best for each other. I know they would agree that waiting was more than worth it.

It made me remember those times of waiting. I was about to turn 24 when I had all but given up on ever finding someone. Most of my friends were either married or at least in committed, serious relationships. I felt like I was being left out – on the fringes of happiness just waiting for life to begin.

I often felt like this:

I had no idea that I would meet my future husband that year in the most unexpected of ways. I just felt lost and lonely and forgotten about by a God who said He knew the plans and purposes for my life, but I couldn’t see them. It wasn’t until I resigned myself to be content with being single the rest of my life if that is what God had in store for me that Chad finally came along. A simple act of choosing to trust that God is good and that He had His hand on my life – even in the midst of hurting. Chad was worth every restless, lonely night I spent wishing it could be my turn to experience being in love. He was worth the wait.

Fast forward six years and I have once again come back to this same lesson of trusting God with His timing when I can’t see my future. Why do we so easily forget the faithfulness of God?

If God was with me then (even when I didn’t know it) isn’t He with me still? He orchestrates my life, not me. He isn’t moved by my worry or my fears, but by His perfect timing. So why am I sitting here wondering why all my friends are pregnant or have 2-4 babies at home, while I remain childless waiting for my life to start? Why am I so quick to focus on my lack and fail to remember all the times God brought me exactly what I needed at the exact point in time I needed it – not earlier and not a minute too late.

I think pain makes us desperate and irrational. Like a toddler who can’t fully yet understand the scope of reality and how the world is working around him, we grow fearful and anxious and we grasp for assurance. It is immensely hard to be single and alone and wondering if you will ever find your true love. It is equally hard (although for me probably even harder) to wonder if I will ever be a mother and to feel that precious hope slipping away. Instead of remembering the reality of God’s faithfulness and trusting that He is God and that that is assurance enough, don’t we all have a tendency to grow restless and fearful?

But here’s the best part:

In these moments, God isn’t impatient with us. God isn’t that parent that is like, “Well if you’re going to be like that, you’re not getting anything!!

God understands our frailty; He knows he are human.

God instead is the gentle parent who kneels down, looks directly in our eyes, brushes our hair away from our tear-streaked faces, and whispers reassuringly, “I know you don’t understand right now and you won’t be able to, but I promise that I know what is the very best for you. You can trust me because I love you so much more than you can even comprehend.”

And just like that, when we allow ourselves those quiet moments with Him, we can feel our souls take a deep breath. We can feel the weight of fear lift and our eyes fix themselves on that which we cannot see – because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. We begin to feel hope restored and we rest in the peace that He is God, He is orchestrating everything, and we will see His faithfulness once again if we just trust and wait…