Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in"

I am not going to lie to you, this whole Japan tragedy has me beating my head against the proverbial walls. I hate it so much. I hate that so many lives are lost and so much beauty has just been laid waste. I don't understand why God would make something so beautiful ... and then wash it away? I am angry, cosmically speaking.

It doesn't help that it just happened in New Zealand .. and Chile .. and Haiti. (Wish that I could throw my arms around the world!)

I believe God is Love. I believe God loves His creation and that includes eternal souls. My wise friend Lindsay says that when she is stopped short in her tracks by something contrary to what she knows about God, she starts reciting what she knows of His character out loud. She lets the known flood the not understood, shouting into that void.

There is something I used to know ... so I'm re-posting again today. I am re-posting it to remember that God loves Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Haiti -- and all the nations -- far more than I do. Their tears are His tears. I don't have the wisdom to say that it would be better for them to live without this suffering -- only God knows how suffering brings about the best things. I just know that my muscles won't grow until I tear them to shreds and then give them good nutrition to rebuild what I've killed.

It is of every earthly importance to me today that God did not create this place or these people to be a waste, but He designed this place to be lived in (so He told us in the words below). God is all about abundant life. I can't see it right now, but seeing is not believing. I will believe God, because I've seen Him to be true too many times to disbelieve Him now.

Oh, and by the way, I would love to hear how your thought process / tradition / spirituality helps you make sense of this tragedy. I crave dialogue on the topic. No wrong answers, I want to hear it all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Make Well-Being and Create Woe

My life gushes to the brim full of blessings. I am loved, I am befriended, I am educated, employed, valued, I am rich enough that I own my car and have my own room, I have things like an iPod and a smart phone. I have friends that would give me the shirt off their backs, and I know they're not going anywhere. As for my family ... well: the stuff of legends. My life is the sweetest of fare, but don't try to get me to admit that just any day. I can be stubbornly negative about my circumstances when I focus all the time on what I've got still to achieve.

There have been days, however, when I have tasted blood. Even for whining weakling like myself, there have been wounds worthy of a tear or few shed. I've been battered and bruised -- sometimes it's a byproduct of my own misjudgments; other times it's been a legitimate betrayal of trust. Sometimes it's just senseless, wasteful, undeserved injury. Times when turnabout was very unfair play. And I know I'm not alone. We all draw this card from time to time.

Wednesday morning I read a Word from my God and I was startled at what He said: "I make well-being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things." Subconsciously I want to protect Him from His own proclamation. "Nah, God, you're not all that bad..." It takes me a moment or two to realize this isn't my pal talking, needing my encouragement and asking my help to let go of their self-berating. God is not apologizing. He doesn't need me to help Him feel better about Himself.

God, did You make my woe? Was that You?

Have you ever been in a situation where you're complaining to some trusted friend about something that really annoyed you or ticked you off, and you don't know who caused it so you're just blabbing away about how much it bothered you, and then all of the sudden! -- Your (crazy) trusted friend decides to say, "I did that. And the reason why is ..." And suddenly the beloved's logic makes sense and you realize all along you'd been embarrassingly self-absorbed in your moment of annoyance? You backpedal and tell your friend why you really don't mind that much and you totally understand where they were coming from anyway... [Or has that only happened to me??]

Reading this passage from Isaiah's book was a little like that moment. I wanted to suddenly justify all God's actions, but He wasn't asking me to. He's not embarrassed. He has a logic. He has a purpose. He's in control of it all because he created it all. By God, nothing is wasted. Not one tear, not a sigh, not one crushing blow or suffocated heart trying to keep beating through the letdown. Ultimately, expect justice. For your enemies and yourself, pray mercy.

When you cry and beat your chest and feel angry, depressed, confused: please know that God isn't trying to lie to you. He hasn't pretended to be something He's not. He's been honest at every turn. He is in control of your circumstances, and mine. He's responsible for all those Kodak moments you love, and yet He's still conducting the orchestra through the tragedies. He's a friend and lover with a logic that we can't yet defend, because His ways are beyond our understanding. If you need to scream at Him, scream. He can take it and see you through it. He won't try to explain any more than He already has, but He might reveal a bit more of his heart when you're ready to see it.

HIS longing is for creativity ... justice ... salvation ... life!

Is 45:6b-8, 18, 21b-25

I am the LORD, there is no other;
I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let justice also spring up!
I, the LORD, have created this.

For thus says the LORD,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not creating it to be a waste,
but designing it be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.


Kimi said...

At a church service I went to months ago, the pastor offered the perspective when viewing life/world tragedies that in the midst of these terrible events, God could actually be showing us His mercy; that he's preventing even more potential harm than what has been done. I had never thought about it that way... I know it doesn't bring the most comfort in times like these but it was something I had never considered before, that he's actually withholding or preventing even more devastation. Ultimately, of course I don't know why these things happen. My pastor today talked a bit about these events and came to a conclusion that we just don't know why God allows these things to happen. It was an interesting sermon. Here's a link to it; it's the March 13 sermon that's not up yet but may be sometime this week.

bwsmith said...

My mind can't take in the devastation, eve when I see the pictures. I can't fathom the other stuff that is going one -- I think I am feeling survivor's guilt -- a real emotion that just shakes me.
Why was I spared?
It certainly wasn't to do nothing or get paralyzed -- which is how I feel.
I liked reading your post and join you in remembering all who have lost loved ones, their lives, and their possessions -- I just pray for you all right now!

DRB said...

I am so glad you re-posted this. It made such an impact on me when you first wrote it, and it has been much on my mind since the news of the earthquake broke.

My heart is broken for Japan and her people. I long for her healing. But not a temporary, merely temporal, healing.

This world is a broken place. We don't seem to be able to get our minds around the idea that in a broken place--a place that we broke with our own hands--there will be constant breakings...

And yet God decided from the earliest moments to rescue us from our own handiwork.

As I look at the devastation and mourn, I think about the vastly greater devastation described in Scripture (Isaiah 24, for example), and I think perhaps it is a mercy to have a "wake-up call."

I lived in Japan when God called me to Himself by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I was not looking for Him, but He found me there, and rescued me from the pit I had dug for myself.

And now I am praying that He will show Himself mightier than the shaking earth and the overwhelming ocean. That He will have mercy on the people of Japan, as He has had on me. That He will call them, "My people," and that they will be truly healed and restored.

Isabella said...

Sydney, I too am having trouble wrapping my head around the earthquake/tsunami. At first I didn't think much of it, but as I took time to read up on it, watch the news, videos, blogs, the more I see the more my heart tears to pieces. I feel so helpless over here.

To think that if it had hit Plano in the middle of the afternoon like it did over there, the number of people on the roads, the number of people just getting on with their lives doing their day to day things all of a sudden taken aback by something completely out of their control. It's so sad. It hurts even worse when we compare the amount of aid being sent to Japan and the amount that was given to Haiti and other countries, sure Japan is a much more developed country, but like I heard on the news last night, "We are all the same... when we find ourselves standing outside, cold and in our pajamas, we are all the same".

I'm with you in your confusion and your pain. I wish there was something we could do.