Two weeks ago was a hard time for our family.
A college friend started chemo. Friday night we got a call that my wife’s older brother was bleeding inside his brain. He had been transported, by ambulance, to the ICU unit in South Bend. He ended up being ok and will be home tomorrow, but it was touch and go for awhile. Karin Sherbahn, who plays in our band on Saturday nights, had another surgery and is still in the hospital. Another little girl from our church came home after being diagnosed with leukemia and starting chemo at Riley Children’s hospital in Indy.
Life can be harshly unpredictable. And that is only our microcosm in a world filled with shootings in churches, jihadist conflicts and political unrest.
While I was mulling that over, I was amazed to read, according to Amazon, the most highlighted passage in all books read on Kindle—highlighted almost twice as often as any other passage—is from the second volume of The Hunger Games. It reads:
“BECAUSE SOMETIMES THINGS HAPPEN TO PEOPLE AND THEY’RE NOT EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THEM.” *
Can you relate? I can.
And the crazy thing is, I bet all those people in the Bible who tried to follow God felt the same. Do you think Abraham knew how to handle it when God asked him to sacrifice his son, his only son? Do you think he knew what to tell his wife, Sarah, when he was loading up the wood, the fire and the knife to kill their son? How do you prepare for that?
We all have this drive to be equipped for whatever life throws at us. We all want to pretend that we can control our lives. I wake up in the morning, check the weather and dress appropriately. I have a to-list for today and am making plans for a date with my wife later this week. I plan for services 6 weeks out and am also planning for Christmas Eve services and a family vacation after that.
But…if we are honest with ourselves, we know we will never be fully prepared. We will never be prepared for the cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, or watching a parent die.
So this week, I’m finding comfort in that same story of Abraham. I’m sure he didn’t know what to say or do, but he faithfully obeyed. If you don’t remember the story, he doesn’t kill his son. Instead, God provides.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m learning more and more everyday that I’m not in control. I’m learning instead to look to my God who provides. This is the path to meaning in impossible circumstances. This is the process of getting knocked down and trusting and getting back up…over and over and over again. And in that process we grow stronger…God equips us little bit by little bit. But we have to be willing to ask the deep, hard questions found in life and found in scripture so that we as believers are able to live through these waves that knock us down.
Only then can we get back up…
*taken from the article, “Majoring in Fear” by Mark Shiffman, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/11/majoring-in-fear, accessed on Oct 17, 14.