It is a beautiful, crisp, sunny fall morning in Nashville, Tennessee, on this day, 11-11-11. I am home alone, sitting in my quiet office, Mom having just left to take Scott to preschool, Camden being at kindergarten and Brian already at work.
I am to head to Baptist in a couple of hours for another infusion of vectibix. This is the same medicine that gave me the severe skin reaction, but I am premedicating with a strong antibiotic (minocycline) in an attempt to head off such a severe reaction this time around.
I have been sad lately about something in particular. I have felt, as Job said, that my “days have no meaning” (Job 7:16). I have very little productivity most days, as I can only be up on my feet for a bit before having to sit or lie down. I have been reading a lot, watching a lot of television, or just lying and doing nothing much of the time. I know many of you will find this ridiculous, but then I feel sad and some guilt when my friends talk about their acts of service to God – teaching Sunday school classes, attending Bible studies, serving the inner city, working with the Hispanic ministry, etc. I feel guilty because I can’t do any of those things “for God” as I would like.
Then I realized, what I can do is write on this blog. I still do not understand why anyone reads it. I still do not understand why the simple words and thoughts I share have any impact on other hearts. But too many of you have told me that they do for me to deny it. God seems to be doing something, and so I cannot abandon it. So I have decided to attempt to write here more often. That is my promise today.
There are so many thoughts that filter in and out of my mind throughout the long days, as I have an unusually great amount of time to think; and so it is difficult to know where to start.
What has been foremost on my mind the past few days is the concept of being angry with God. I have not, at any point in the last year, been angry with God. Some people cannot understand this, and so I have been trying to formulate an explanation, mostly for myself.
I believe the answer is: the fear of God. I have equal parts fear of God and love of God in my heart.
You see, I was raised to know not only the God who welcomes the little children and takes them on his lap, as we see Jesus do; but also the God who came down to Mount Sinai with thunder and lightning and a thick cloud and fire, so that the people trembled and whoever touched the mountain would die. I was raised with the strict instruction to freely approach my loving Father who loves me more than I could ever comprehend, but ALWAYS approach Him with great humility, realizing His great power and perfect holiness; with the strict instruction not to ever assume I had Him figured out, because He is infinite knowledge and infinitely complex and my finite mind could barely even begin to understand Him and His ways.
So who am I to be angry with God? Who am I to question His purposes? This God, who loves me completely but who could strike me down instantly.
And then I think of the cross. I think of how the perfect, loving, sinless Jesus took the full cup of God’s wrath, when he deserved not even the smallest sip. He suffered the full measure of God’s righteous anger and punishment toward all sin – all murder, all child abuse, all torture, all stealing, etc – he took it all on his shoulders so that I can live. I think of God’s great, incomprehensible love for me in doing this and I think, how can I be angry about cancer? How can I whine about not having a “comfortable life” when this earthly life is just a breath and He has given me eternal life in the perfection of heaven? He gave it to me as a free, undeserved gift. The greatest gift I could get. How could I ask for MORE? What a brat!
God is God. I am dust. I am a speck in light of His vastness. (Is that a word? Drugs people, remember I am on strong narcotics. Ha!) What right have I to get angry?
I tell you what does make me angry. People who tell me they know exactly what God is doing in my life (or really any life). For instance: “God is testing you.” Maybe He is; it is quite possible. But maybe the suffering is of Satan and God has allowed it. I get angry when people assume they know the mind of God that perfectly.
I get angry when people tell me what to feel. Tell me what youfeel, but meet me where I am. Remind me of God’s love but don’t tell me to do a 180 emotionally, as if all I needed was someone to just tell me and then I could do it. No one knows what I feel, no one knows how this feels to me, but God does, and He knows perfectly. Remind me of that. Don’t assume you know, just because you have been through something similar. It doesn’t mean our emotions and responses are the same.
I don’t mean to sound harsh. I truly don’t. I hope that it makes us all think about what we say to the suffering. I really feel that we (because I am just as guilty of this in the past) just try too hard to say the “right thing” – as if the more we say and the more scripture we quote will somehow be just the thing to make the pain vanish – when all that needs to be said is “I am here. I hurt with you. I love you.”
So I am not angry with God. I love my Father more deeply than I ever have in my whole life. He has saved me and I am thankful. I want to live whatever days I have left in a way that shows Him how thankful I am.
On a different note, I want to extend an invitation. (Ha! Now that I’ve finished my sermon that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?)
Lord willing, we are planning on having a balloon release to celebrate what would have been Anna’s first birthday. My boys both think of their sister Anna as being very much alive in heaven with God, and while they have their childlike faith in where heaven is, we want to release a bunch of balloons “up to heaven” for her to show her our love.
And we would be honored if others could join us. I would love for my boys to have a very tangible picture and make an indelible memory of the many people who love their sister and love them.
Though her birthday was Dec 6, we plan to do the balloon release on Sunday, Dec 4th so that more friends (especially school-aged kids) will be able to join us.
So please mark your calendars for Sunday, December 4th at 1 pm, weather permitting, at Crockett Park in Brentwood. (I will be more specific as to location as it gets closer.)
It will be BYOB: Bring your own (helium filled, of course) balloons.
This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.