This past Wednesday should have been my buddy Houston’s 22nd Birthday here on Earth. Luckily for him, he spent it in heaven with his Saviour as he has done for the past several years. While the grief has evolved over the years and become manageable, there are still times where I find myself longing to see loved ones that have passed on before me. There is no time table on grief, and sometimes you will have waves of emotion come out of nowhere.
This Revisit is from my first winter break of undergrad. I was back in Kansas City about to head back to St. Joseph for my second semester. With these revisits, I make it a rule for myself to not change anything that I originally wrote in 2017. I started this experiment with myself when I was cleaning out my Google Drive and ran across two documents in which I was pushing myself to write once a day for an entire year. Neither project was completed to the intended goal, but the original drafts serve as a sort of time capsule for myself. This week, I wanted to look back on where I was at almost three year ago in terms of how I thought about grief and hard questions we ask. Words in bold are 2019 Abby, and italicized words are from 2017 me.
January 8th 2017
During Sunday School today while we were doing a lesson on Job, a few of the girls were asking really hard questions. Seventh grade girls can ask really hard-hitting questions at the most unexpected times. You know, those questions. The questions like, “If God can do anything, why does He let sin happen?” and “Why doesn’t God fix bad things?” Earthly suffering is a tricky topic is juggle when looking at it from a human perspective. When you add God to the mix, there can be a lot of frustration and confusion.
During my high school years, there were many times I was very angry with God. Like, super angry. As in lots of yelling in my car on drives to school that I didn’t want to go to and feeling guilty later that I was feeling perfectly normal emotions. A big time was when Houston died. A bright, wonderful, loving, talented 17-year-old killed in a car accident right before he was supposed to lead Tarzan. I mean, come on WHY? I’m never ever going to forget that horrible night when we were sitting at the table playing Jenga and mom got the phone call. After that phone call, I went to Target to pick up some things with my dad. I wandered the store, calling every person I could think of, including one of our Pastors. An hour later, our living room was filled with a dozen heart-broken teenagers. For a few weeks after that, I was bitter towards God. Why did He take someone like Houston? It seemed like Houston had so much more to give to this world. Having someone who is such a big light be taken away never fully makes sense to us.
I was numb towards God in Romania. That night in the children’s home up in the mountains when both Grams and Grandma weren’t doing well and my team was praying for them, I remember praying, “God, please don’t take her till I get home.” It was one of the last few days I spent in the country with my missions team. We had finished our service work and were doing some sight-seeing on our last few days. Totally selfish thinking, but I didn’t talk to her enough at my graduation party. I wanted more opportunities to talk to her. I just wanted to talk to her one more time. Come to wake up hours later, Susan was gone from her suffering, leaving me on Earth with my own. I’m glad God took that pain from her, I truly am, and that’s where I find my joy. But the grief, that still lingers, and has fanned the flame of other grief I haven’t yet gotten over. This grief has lightened over the years, but still remains.
God’s timing is perfect, and that’s not just something I say because that’s what I’ve been told all my life. No, I trust that His plan is perfect, because He is perfect. But man, there are times I’d really like to see His timeline laid out. It’s so aggravating being trapped in this human form at times; being stuck in my sinful body when I know that there’s going to be a time when the pain and hardships that are caused by sin are gone. Constantly fighting against my own body in order to be in communion with my Father is exhausting at times. I know the Holy Spirit brings us strength when we are weary, because if He weren’t inside of me, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be alive right now. I guarantee that if I did not have Christ living in me that I wouldn’t be alive today.
Oh, how awesome is my God that He would reach out to a wrecked piece of creation like me. How awesome that He would take my little hand and wipe away the tears from my eyes. How awesome that He would carry me through the pain of loss and heart break. How awesome that He would hold me as I shake with anger and grief. How awesome that He would lay down his life for me. How awesome that He would send other hearts that He’s created to live out the call of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. How awesome that He never leaves us, even when we wander.
Suffering comes in many forms. It can be something seemingly small or hugely devastating, but regardless of what level it is, I feel as though I have come to the conclusion of how I look at God through it all. God is bigger than me. This is a huge understatement, but it is still true. God is bigger, and He sees the bigger picture, because He created it. Who am I to wag my finger t at Him and tell Him that He’s wrong? What right do I have to shake my fist at the One who went through the greatest amount of suffering any person could ever go through? While my soul may bleed and ache, I know that He knows the “why”, even if I never will.
Life can suck at times. I am unbelievably grateful that I have a Father who remains unmoving even when I am being tossed by massive waves. Is grief ever easy to handle? Absolutely not. Is pain something we should be happy with having? Of course not. Even in the midst of our suffering though we can still find joy when we understand that what happens in life can shape us into stronger people. Do I have all the answers to why crappy stuff happens? No, and I never will as long as I am on Earth. Because of this, I have given up the fight in trying to understand and chose to press on by continuing to grow. Lord, let me today and everyday renew my commitment to reflecting Your Love even when my imperfect life seems to be crumbling down around me.
Until Next Time,