Already. Not yet.

Sunday afternoon

It was my brother's 22nd birthday, so I called him on my walk back from church.

We talked for less than four minutes.

It was probably about two minutes past where either of us actually had anything to say, I think, or could even make a decent pretense.  We are strangers to each other.

The only form of sadness I felt was a numb anger at the fact that such is the reality of our relationship.

(photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi)

Sunday night

It hit me more viscerally as I climbed into bed.  I pulled the covers up over my head and proceeded to yell.  (No tears.  I passed that point a long time ago.)  Why's it like this, God?  This sucks!  Where is the good in this that couldn't have come another way?  WHAT IS THE DEAL?

And then I fell asleep.

Wednesday morning

I sat in the Herrons' living room, part of the circle of women who I dearly love and respect and a few who I'm only beginning to get to know.  We were talking about the book of Esther, the working out of God's sovereign and loving providence, and the storied-ness of our own lives.

And how the end, for all His people, is good.  Is happily ever after.

But the end isn't always soon.  The end doesn't always coincide with the end of our lives.

And I thought of Job.  All of his (quite reasonable) questions.

How God just showed up.

He didn't answer the questions.  He didn't explain why.  He didn't even, as Job had probably hoped, vindicate Job and his suffering in front of his friends and family.

He just showed up?

Hang on a second.  The God who created the universe showed up and was with His suffering creation?  That sounds a lot like compassion.  That sounds a lot like steadfast love.  It sounds a lot like the same sort of God who would decide to become flesh and live among His fallen creation to redeem it.

We don't need the answers.  The "because..."  Sometimes we get them, but they aren't what we most deeply need.  We've already been given that.

I have friends who wait with questions.  Serious, real, painful, right questions.  Why this sickness?  Why do babies die?  Why is it such a struggle just to make ends meet?  Why is it so hard to desire God and so easy to desire to be sated with lesser goods?  We can mourn the circumstances that provoke these questions together, and it is proper and fitting (and befitting, as family) to do so.  The pain of living in a broken, fallen world, amidst all the sharp edges of our own sin and the sins of others and the upheaval of a planet that is groaning is real.

I have my own questions.  Usually I can leave most of them buried in my mind and heart, silenced and tucked out of sight.  But sometimes the door that they're barred behind is opened a crack, and then I'm left where I was Sunday night, like a little kid hiding under their blankets from the monsters under their bed.


I don't get answers.

But what I get is better, even now.  Even now when I live in this stage of the redemption already purchased, not yet completed.  I get the unfailing love of the God who cares enough about me, in all my fragile and finite humanity, to show up and listen to me pitching a fit over things that I don't understand.  I get the security of falling asleep in His hands, knowing that despite emotional and psychological tumult, I am His, and He is good, and it is enough.

And then I get to wake into a new day, to once again live in tension of Lamentations 3, wherein mostly the prophet mourns the desolation that God has brought/allowed to come on him.  He pulls no punches, using phrases such as He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light and He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation and He has filled me with bitterness and My soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is.

But then, like a gasp of air in the middle of nearly drowning, or a glimpse of light when you thought you were buried alive underground, there are these verses.

But this I call to mind, 
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; 
great is Your faithfulness.
"Yahweh is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in Him."

Yahweh is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of Yahweh.

So I wait.  We all do.  Not saying that what we have now, the catastrophic questions and the heartbreaking whys are good, but audaciously claiming and believing and living the truth that He is, and that it is enough.

He is good.


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