I've spent these few weeks weary. Tired of watching someone I love go to great and dangerous lengths to run away from God. Tired of witnessing my mom suffer long with chronic pain, auto immune diseases, and a wound in her ankle that refuses to heal for two long months now. Heavy with my father's weariness as he cares for her and suffers along side of her. Praying hard and prayed out. I've been plagued by questions.
Why does God continue to allow my mom to suffer when He could heal her? Isn't four years long enough? What will it take for my loved one to stop running from God? When I pray that God will do whatever it takes...what exactly will the "whatever it takes" turn out to be? Why....why does God allow suffering to last for what seems like forever?
In the middle of all this questioning comes Holy week and a question is asked of me. I am asked to read a meditation for the Good Friday service. Me. I haven't done anything that would require me to stand up in front of a congregation (besides church membership or a baby dedication) for two decades. For the first time in a very long time, saying no doesn't come easily and I have to pause and pray about it. Not certain as to why I feel compelled to say yes, I reluctantly agree to do it. At our rehearsal I read the meditation for the first time. The words " Mary puts a face on the suffering love of God and reminds us that God weeps with us in our pain and grief." leap off the page at me. I know that those words are why I am there...they grabbed a hold of me. They wouldn't let go of me for the rest of the night.
I laid in bed last night and thought about God weeping with us in our pain and our grief. Somehow, it still didn't feel like He understood. I told Him, "You just don't understand how much it hurts to see my mom suffering for so long." As I rolled over to go to sleep I heard Him say, " How do you think I felt when I watched my Son die on that cross." I fell asleep with those words and woke up with them this morning. In all my years of following Christ, I never once considered what it must have been like to be Father God, watching His only Son suffer so.
As the day wore on, more questions came. I was on my way to care for my mom and the song "Good, Good Father" came on the radio. I found myself asking where His goodness is in the midst of suffering. The next song to come on the radio was "Just Be Held". The lyrics to this song encourage the listener to let go and let God hold them through their suffering, especially when the answers seem far away. They remind the listener that He is there right in the midst of life's storms. The song begins with "Hold it all together. Everybody needs you strong." It was as if someone had put words to how I had been feeling lately. Until I heard this song today, I had forgotten that when I am busy holding it all together...I deprive myself of experiencing God's goodness. We can't see His goodness in the midst of our storms until we let go and let Him hold us. It's resting in His grip that allows us to experience His goodness in the midst of suffering.
I decided to share the songs that I heard on the radio with my mom. I watched her as she listened to them. I thought for certain that the one that would speak to her most was "Just Be Held." I was wrong. The one whose suffering lead me to question God's goodness, absolutely loved the song "Good, Good Father". There it was...the fruit of suffering. My mom is convinced of God's goodness. Because of her suffering, she has experienced His love in ways that I can't begin to imagine. She has experienced the depths of His love and the comfort of His presence in such a way that she can say to the only One who could heal her instantly...but doesn't "You're a good, good Father" and truly mean it! I am in awe of her.
I sit here now, thinking about the questions...and I've asked God a few more. They're not the kind that really need answering. They're more for reflection I suppose. I keep coming back to this: Father God knew how horribly Jesus would suffer on the cross. He knew how heart wrenching it would be to watch His Son suffer the anguish of the cross. Yet He sent Jesus anyway. He sent Him to die on the cross for me. Me...who questioned His goodness and accused Him of not understanding. Why do any of us matter that much to Him for Him to do such a thing? Why put Himself through that suffering for people like us who consistently hurt and disappoint Him? Love...it's the only possible answer. A love that I can't begin to understand but is strong enough to welcome my questions.
What are you questioning tonight? Go to God whose love is strong enough... whose grip is tight enough to hold on to you when you are weary with questions and ready to let go.