I once was on a date with a guy who told me his childhood home had a fire and while they didn’t lose everything, he felt like they did because all his photo albums were lost. That must have been like a punch to the gut because that’s one thing you just can’t replace. I can’t imagine and would rather not try, thanks.
A dear friend has been evacuated because of fires in Colorado and while I have never been any where that was officially evacuated, I can only imagine the sense of sheer panic and helplessness and pending doom she must feel. I could give a trite Sunday School “God is in control” or things of this earth are nothing compared to the peace of God, but it would probably sound about as pleasing to her ears as a dozen cats in heat being thrown repeatedly onto a brick wall while someone squeaks a balloon and runs fingernails down a chalkboard while pouring acid on your face. I really don’t have a lot of answers and I refuse to give something that would make MY skin crawl if the situation was reversed to me.
I was talking to a friend the other day about a mutual friend who has really been through the ringer, not just recently, but throughout his life. There are so many things that could have made him resentful, bitter, angry, cynical, untrusting and cold. Personal family tragedy, what sounds like the stuff of your worst nightmare, and then a painful divorce and drama that unfolds from all of that. The more I hear of his story, the more I think I can’t even believe that (1) he laughs at anything and (2) he still deeply believes and commits to the Sovereignty and Goodness of God as much as he does. I look back over my life and the things that drove me to darkness, to falling away in a big way, and to shaking my fist in God’s face – and then I am horrified by my arrogance and audacity in the light of the Truth we have been given. God himself saying to Job, the man in the Bible who suffered greatly (it’s a fantastic read if you’ve never read it – the poetry alone is beautiful) “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” As if we know more than God and that any reasons we come up with to explain away our lives will hold any water at all. In other words, what the bleep do we know?
And then the friend I was talking to said something I agreed with but hadn’t put my finger on yet. Through all of the tragedy and suffering, our friend’s character was shaped and revealed. Maybe we go through these things to recognize in ourselves, and for others to see, what we are really made of, who we are under the fire. Whatever it is that you are going through right now, whatever it is that is making you angry or mournful, whatever it is that has felt like it completely stripped you naked and broke you in half, those are the very things that show what kind of person you really are. Do you lash out? Do you act out against others or yourself in harmful ways? Do you blame and curse God? Do you retreat and shut down? Do you build walls and fight off any one trying to get in? Do you break down and let the emotional wave sweep you up until you can’t get through the day?
Sometimes, the answer to all the above is yes. And I’m not saying those things don’t happen to the strongest of us. Everyone has a breaking point. Everyone has that one thing that will truly crush our souls. The strongest of us will sob and punch walls and scream and freak out. But then we will pick ourselves up and we will walk on. And in the Grace of God we’ll walk even taller and stronger than before, refined in the fire and pure gold.
This is one of my favorite songs. (no it’s not Walk Tall. don’t love Mellencamp, though that’s not a terrible song.)
Dedicated to Judith. Love you baby. xo
And prayers for all those in Colorado fighting the fires and in need of peace…