Next weekend I’ll be leading a workshop at the Community Women’s Retreat, “Treasured beyond Measure.” My topic? Understanding Your Life in Light of God’s Story. As I’ve prayed and stared at a blank page to collect my thoughts, willing words to miraculously form, I’ve wondered if my title was a little presumptuous.
Understanding life is a luxury, one I have experienced only in small doses, only after many days and months and years have burned off the fog from my heart’s eye. Understanding is rare in the moment but grows brighter with the added lights of time and distance. I’ve also found prayers and tears and journaling to help.
It just so happens that I’ve been reading Timothy Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, and it has enriched my workshop preparation by reminding me there are no easy answers to life’s troubles and no short cuts through the foggy stretches. I love this excerpt:
“Yes, we do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that he does not love us. It cannot be that he does not care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself. He understands us, he has been there, and he assures us that he has a plan to eventually wipe away every tear. Someone might say, “But that’s only half an answer to the question ‘Why?’ ” Yes, but it is the half we need.
“If God actually provided an explanation of all the reasons why he allows things to happen as they do, it would be too much for our finite brains. Think of little children and their relationship to their parents. Three-year-olds cannot understand most of why their parents allow and disallow what they do. But though they aren’t capable of comprehending their parents’ reasons, they are capable of knowing their parents’ love, and therefore are capable of trusting them and living securely. That is what they really need.”1
From this, I can stand firmly on the ground of understanding God’s love even when I cannot understand my life or the path I must continue to inch forward on. I guess my perspective on life all depends on what I’m most desperate to know. If I’m determined that my life should make sense to me and work the way that seems best to me, I will have to wait until the fog lifts and circumstances change. Looking instead to God’s love will give light to my heart, even in the foggiest of times, even when I can hardly see the next step on the path ahead.
I’m thinking that knowing half of the answer is better than missing out on all of it, so I’m going to relish in what I can know and ask God to teach me how to trust Him and live securely in that, even if the fog is heavy all around.
Keller, Timothy J. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. 121. Print.