“Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic. When the shadow of Jesus’ cross falls across our lives in the form of failure, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, unemployment, loneliness, depression, the loss of a loved one; when we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own pain; when the world around us suddenly seems a hostile, menacing place – at those times we may cry out in anguish, “How could a loving God permit this to happen?” At such moments the seeds of distrust are sown. It requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God no matter what happens to us… I can state unequivocally that childlike surrender in trust is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship. And I would add that the supreme need in most of our lives is often the most overlooked – namely for an uncompromising trust in the love of God. Furthermore, I would say that, while there are times when it is good to go to God as might a ragged beggar to the King of kings, it is vastly superior to approach God as a little child would approach his or her papa.”
– Brennan Manning, from Ruthless Trust
I was struck by this quote posted on the friend of a friend’s Facebook wall the other day (one time when I appreciated that statuses of people I don’t know show up in my news feed when one of my friend’s like’s their status). I feel like I need some of that heroic courage…to have ruthless trust in the love of God.
Honestly, I am really struggling with the sovereignty of God in the face of Naomi’s death. I know I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. But sometimes it makes me want to jump out of my skin because everything in me screams out that this is wrong. Children are NOT supposed to suffer and die and I can’t make sense of it. I don’t understand why God permits these things.
The one and only thing I have to cling to is the fact that Jesus suffered and died on the cross because of all of this. Because evil had corrupted our very beings so that even in the womb a little body can be malformed. Yes, he died to redeem our souls, but I believe more than ever before that we are both body and soul. He died to redeem every part of fallen creation. I long desperately to see that redemption become a reality, to be done with the pain and the suffering. But knowing that Jesus didn’t just love me from afar in His perfection, but rather came here and experienced all the wretchedness of sin and suffering, that is what gives me the first glimmer of hope.
Weird that I find hope in the suffering of Jesus, huh? Anyone who’s been a follower of Christ would say, “Of course, that’s where our hope is!” But I feel like I’m seeing this in a new way. I guess its akin in a small way to how it feels to talk to another mom who has also lost a child. There is an immediate connection that we both know this deep pain, that we experienced something that we thought would kill us, and a part of us is gone with our children, but we are still here, still standing and trying to learn how to live even while a part of us has died.
I know I could have absolutely nothing to do with a God who said he loved me yet left this world to suffer, even though we did and do bring it on ourselves. His willingness to identify with me, with my suffering, with my daughter’s suffering, draws me to Him. It speaks of a love that IS stronger than death. A Love that reignites a spark of hope in my heart. Someone loves me THAT much. A Love that was so powerful and so pure that death could not conquer Him.
Right now, there is just a little, flickering light of hope, kept alive by Love. And yes, I’m camping out on Calvary, at the cross and in the suffering. Yes, I know He rose again and He gained the victory. But today, right now, I don’t see the victory and am not ready to celebrate. I believe and know that one day I will see all things restored, the final victory over death accomplished. But today I stand beside the cross, beside Naomi’s grave and am so grateful that my God came and walked this path through the valley of the shadow of death and He is walking it with me even now.