Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Believing So We Can See

Even the invisible airwaves couldn't hide the pain and disappointment hanging in the silence. My question to her wasn't intended to uncap the well of sorrow she had been pressing down.  

When her words came, so did the tears. 

"It wasn't supposed to end up like this," she half-whispered.

Her story may have unique characters and villains, but the narrative had a familiar ring to it. 

The pen of suffering written on lives through trials, disappointments, and loss can leave our stories hard to keep living. 

I have a file that contains letters and printed e-mails of brave and precious souls who dared to put into words their deepest disappointments and life altering pain. 

They tell of husbands who walked out, wives who bolted, children who rebelled and babies who died.

There are typed, tragic accounts of how drug abuse forever altered their loved one.... or how drug abuse altered them.

How mental illness stole the person they once knew, jobs ended, homes were repossessed and the life-long savings disappeared.  

And cancer. So much cancer.

What would we do if for one day –just one– the news reporters had only good news to report? 

That's just not the world we live in. 

We live in a world where people all around us are wondering how to take one more step forward.

It was in a particularly difficult season, one that involved a very close relationship, when I found myself feeling hopeless. 

The accusing voice of failure replayed a familiar chorus in my head, "This. Is. All. Your. Fault." 

For months, I wavered somewhere between anger at this person's choices, while knowing the reality of my own flaws and quite honestly being angry at God. After all, He was the One who allowed the core circumstances to happen in our life.

Driving alone down a long portion of highway I began to verbalize the pain. Perhaps for the first time, I wasn't trying to be brave or keep up appearances or control the situation. I wasn't even being polite toward God.

Gratefully we serve a King who isn't afraid of the raw conversations. He isn't put off by the ugly sobbing or when we dare to wrestle with Him about our deepest disappointments and hurt.

My grappling with Him in the difficulty didn't change His God-ness or His love for me. In fact, I think it was more clearly revealed.

I remember the stretch of highway I was driving on. I remember the words I said. And I remember the struggle and the ultimate releasing it all to God in a small burst of flickering faith.

The size of a small seed of faith.

I had finally reached a place of peace—a place of release– a place of knowing God would have to do the work in my heart and in those I loved.

I could move forward in confidence that He was in control.

Something about that place, those moments, were a turning point for me.

Even though what I could see had not changed, I felt like something  was settled.

That's how it was for Jacob.

He found himself alone, afraid and powerless as he was about to face his brother who had vowed to kill him years before.

It was a crossroads of where he had been and where he was going.

And there He wrestled with God.

In that encounter, some things were settled. God blessed him and changed his name.

Jacob the deceiver, became Israel the God-wrestler. 

And from that day forward Israel walked with a limp.

People who walk with a limp have my respect.

The things in life that didn't turn out like we hoped? Those are the things that help us lean on Jesus instead of ourselves.

No matter what our income, age, or credentials, at some point, we will have to embrace our powerlessness.

On the happy day, we come to the end of ourselves and our resources and all the trying to fix that husband, child, boss, or 10,000 other issues...... we are left with two choices.

We can focus on our problems or we can focus on the Problem Solver.

We can stare at the mountains or at the Mountian Mover.

We can run away or run toward.

We can worry or we can worship.

Worship is the thing that shows us Israel had more than a name change in the wrestling.

In Genesis 33:20 it says this: 
Then he built an altar there and named it El-Elohe-Israel (Mighty Is the God of Israel).

After the wrestling? God was no longer a God, or a religion passed down. Nope. He became the Mighty God of Israel.  

God moved past vague and impersonal to very personal. 

The. Mighty. God. of. Israel.

In my own God-story there have been, and will be many seasons of learning and trusting and growing in my faith. 

Despite the circumstances that surrounded me, I settled the issue of Who had the power to do something about them.

I settled the issue of  Who I would serve no matter what the outcome. 

The. Mighty. God. of. Rhonda.

And the Lord has not let me down. 

The unending, uncomfortable, unpopular paradox is that we do learn through pain. 

Dear Fellow Limper,

You who are pressed down under the circumstances that did not turn out like you'd hoped.

To the abandoned, the hurt, and all who feel forgotten, passed over and taken advantage of.

For every person that has suffered, is suffering... deep loss and pain and various afflictions.

Don't focus on what you can see.

Believe that the Lord is mighty and working on your behalf.

Don't settle for going to church or going through the motions or merely listening to someone else talk about faith.  

Believe that you can know personally, "the Mighty God of ____________." (Fill in your name.)

Some things really do have to be believed, before our eyes can be opened to see.

With all my love,


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© Rhonda Quaney