**Originally published June 5, 2015.
The news alert pulled up a random piece of tragedy about an old friend, a few weeks ago. Someone I hadn’t thought of in years, a friend from my original Thursday Morning Bible Study a couple decades ago, in another city. We were pregnant at the same time, had our second children in the same hospital a few months apart, both girls. Hers died unexpectedly, a few weekends ago. I remember her little one vaguely, in the mix of all our kids, but I know where my own girl is and who she has become. I think of all the years of growing up that we have shared since then, and my heart is pierced at the thought of losing her suddenly, and I pray for my long-ago friend whose heart is surely stabbed clean through. I wonder if she has stayed close to the Truth she was searching out, all those years ago, and if she knows Who to cling to.
The other day a more recent friend sent an email about the health problems her girl is facing, fall-out from drugs she was taking to help. Only the doctor didn’t warn her about the long-term effects. It’s a lot for a teenager to deal with, we agreed– as if growing up isn’t hard enough when you are all awkward in-between. There are valuable lessons for her to learn here, a mother knows, if a young girl can grab onto them. And we older women know how life disappoints and twists in unexpected ways, how you can end up in places you never expected, and how fear looms large in the face of all the things you cannot control, cannot fix in this world. But we also know the One who says “It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.” (Isaiah 48:13) So we ask Him to guard a growing girl’s heart and make her strong in relying on Him.
And I think of the mother who is teaching her adopted child what love means, and the mother who is waiting for a C-section and hoping for a healthy baby, and the mother who visits her tiny one every day in the neo-natal unit, and the one who is wondering if she will ever get to be a mother….all our fragile hopes and fears in this world with no guarantees of happy endings. But we have this promise, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We know God and we know His heart of love for us, and we choose to believe that His plans are good, whether or not the process feels that way in the moment we are in. Because trusting Him is the commitment we have made, and He promises to be faithful to us.
Sometimes you read what another person has written and the words leap from the page to your heart, startling in their simplicity and clarity. This writer hit home with her honest assessment of life and faith:
“Being a Christian does not safeguard you from a world of hurt. Jesus Himself promises trials and sorrows. And Jesus Himself hurt. So the big question is, what then is the value of having a relationship with God? If we’re all going to get hit with the same awfulness, all feel the same dark pain, why be in a relationship with God at all?
I guess the answer would be, so you can be in a relationship with God.” (Susie Davis)
And I think I am beginning to see, finally, that a relationship with Him was always the end-goal from His perspective, even though I may have come at it backwards. Through all the American Dreams I have chased down, He was pursuing me; and for every one of life’s let-downs and melt-downs, He was there to wipe my tears and listen to my heart pouring out; and with each disappointment, He offered something deeper, stronger. Patiently, relentlessly, fiercely loving me until I got it. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 6:3) Maybe I needed to see how easily everything-that-looks-real can be shaken, in order to recognize how invisible things can stand: Every bent branch of life that disappoints, and wounds, and leaves us empty and dry… meant to point the way to the Living Water that makes us whole. Every failure and dissatisfaction and longing… meant to push us towards the One whose “steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5), towards Him who said “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)
And the thing is, it was never a Plan B– the safety net just in case life went sideways; the consolation prize for the broken-hearted. It was His entire Plan from the Beginning to give us Himself and satisfy our hearts. He doesn’t even try to hide it: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3) The question was only ever how long it would take for us to reach out for Him, and to realize that if we have Him, we have Enough.
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.Isaiah 45:3
I’ll set You as a seal upon my heart, as a seal upon my arm,Jesus Culture
For there is love that is as strong as death–
Jealousy, demanding as the grave;
And many waters cannot quench this love.
You won’t relent until You have it all;
My heart is Yours.