Thursday, January 8, 2015

You Mad Bro?

The answer to this question is a loud, resounding YES! I am mad.  We are smack dab in the middle of some really stinky stuff and if you want me to be honest, I AM MAD!

I know, I know.  Some of you are thinking, "What kind of pastor's wife is she?"  Or maybe, "Doesn't she trust God?" To be honest with you, I am shaking my head at myself.

You see, I KNOW that God is in control, I KNOW he has all of this in His hands.  I KNOW all of the Scriptures (Your ways our not my ways oh Lord...I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you...Trust in the Lord with all your heart...) I have shared them with others countless times.  But in this moment, in the darkness that is creeping toward me, I cannot seem to get past the mad long enough to rest in these promises.

Each time I feel like I am closer to being okay, we are hit by another blow.  It is something that is hard to explain unless you've walked in the valley of the shadow of death. We have been foster parents now for 7 years...7.  Those 7 years have challenged us, broken us, strengthened us, broken us some more, unified us, renewed our faith, and so many more things.

7 years is a long time.  7 years and 4 additions to our family. It changes you.  And when it is time to send kids back to the same broken place they came from, it is hard and heart breaking, and you are left with more questions than you have answers for.

Every time I look into these sweet boys unknowing eyes I am mad.

Every time there are empty spaces at my dinner table, I am mad.

Bedtime prayers at empty beds, cause my anger to rise again.

Every time I dry the tears of my 4 year old, or calm the fears of my 7 year old, I am mad.

Every time I see the fear or worry in my older daughters' eyes, or watch them pull away from others, I am mad.

Cries and pleas of, "Please no, I stay here," rip out every ounce of self control I have managed to maintain, and I am mad.

Every time I hear the anger in my son's voice, I am mad.

Every time I get a hug or snuggle from these boys we are losing, I am mad.

A half empty church pew that use to overflow robs me of my joy, and I am mad.

Every family activity we do without them, I am mad.

Every time I hear, "The system is so broken," I am mad.  

You know what's worse than grieving?  Watching each and everyone of those around you grieving and being absolutely helpless.  I feel like I am walking around with a gaping hole in my chest and with each beat of my heart, something more breaks.

I KNOW this is not a good place to be.  I KNOW it is not somewhere I can stay, and each time these angry feeling start rising up inside me I am wracked with guilt because I know it isn't how I ought to respond.

Or is it?

In his book, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis wrote, "We must lay before him what is in us and not what ought to be in us."   When I read that it got me to thinking.  The truth is God knows what we are really thinking and feeling, right?  So who are we fooling if we pretend we are at peace with all that wars around us?  Isn't that pretending to be something we aren't, and isn't that what the Pharisees did?

Instead I started thinking about how some of the Bible heroes reacted when their circumstances weren't what they had hoped.

Probably the man most famous for suffering that we can read about in the Bible is Job.  I have often joked and even blogged before on how Job has nothing on me.  If you are familiar with the story you know that Job literally lost everything in a short amount of time.  He lost his children, his wealth, and even his health.  The kicker for me is that it was God himself who chose Job to be tested by satan.  It is a humbling reminder that nothing comes our way without God's approval.

What I most want to point out though, is Job's reaction to his suffering. 

Job is broken, he shaves his head, tears his clothes and begins mourning.  Well meaning friends come to encourage him, they hardly recognize him when they arrive.  They remain silent until Job speaks and pours out his heart, even wishing he had never been born.  His friends are disappointed with his response - they even blame him for all that is happening. In fact by chapter 19 Job says to his friends, “Then Job replied:
“How long will you torment me
    and crush me with words?
Ten times now you have reproached me;
    shamelessly you attack me”

But by chapter 38 the Lord speaks and validates Job’s feelings and struggles.  He also reminds Job that HE is God, but the story ends with these words:
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. (42:12)  So we see that Job was angry and broken for a season.

And then there is David.  You don't have to read too many Psalms before you see that the man God himself refers to as, "A man after my own heart," is often broken and crying out.  If you asked David, "Are you mad, bro?"  I think he would have often answered with a loud, resounding, "YES!"

Psalm 22 verses 1-5 are a perfect example of this:

1 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame."

I feel like I could have penned these verses, I cry out by day but you do not answer...God are you listening to me?  Our ancestors put their trust in you and You showed up....God where are you now?

These are just two of several examples through out Scripture of Godly men and women having a season of anger to work through.  The key, I suggest, is not getting stuck there.

If you continue to read through Psalm 22 David begins to remind himself of who watches over him.  He says things like, "But you, Lord, do not be far from me.You are my strength; come quickly to help me." (vs 19).   

And I can agree with David by saying, "Lord I know we can get through this, You and me, but it might have to be mostly You."

Next he reminds himself what he needs to do, "I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you." (vs 22) 

And I cry out, "Lord I know You are who You say You are, and You are good. I will praise you in this storm, but I am wet and cold.  I am battered from these fierce winds, so I need your help."

Then David reminds God of His promises: "For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help."(vs 26)

And I cry out, "Lord nothing grieves your heart more than when your children are hurting.  When you walked this earth you welcomed the little ones into your presence.  Your word says it is better for a millstone to be placed around someone's neck andthey be thrown into a lake than to hurt a child (Matthew 18:6).  I know it is not Your desire that these babies be put in harm's way."

David wraps up his heart felt cry with these simple words, "He has done it!" (vs 31)

And I cry out, "Lord please do it!"

I think it is okay to have conversations with God that are real, and gut-wrenchingly honest.  It is okay to cry out and question when things around you don't make sense.  I think it is okay to remind him of his promises. 

I think it is okay to hurt, to be broken, and to cry out in anguish.  Even Christ himself cried out, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

We just cannot stay there.  I do not know how much time passed between verse 1 of David's Psalm and verse 31.  I imagine that time frame is different for each of us.  I think I am still very near the first portion of these verses, so if you see me out and about, please know that I have not given up on my faith.  I know that God is in control and that in the end I will be able to say like Joseph, "What you intended for evil the Lord has used for good."  (Gen 50:20)  But, I am not there yet, at least not in my heart.  My head is there, the truth is solid but my heart is still mending.

As I wrap up this lengthy piece, I want to leave you with one truth I have discovered on this journey.  Peace is not the absence of fighting, here on earth we will never fully have that.  Peace is a rest in knowing that despite all that is raging around us, God is in control and we are in His hands.  I am working on sewing that into my heart, but until then will you pray for us? 

1 comment:

  1. Love you, Lady! Prayers for you and your family.