Today (August 1st) our church celebrated a 90 year old’s birthday with a church open house, and mourned an infant’s passing at a graveside service. Life can be so backwards.
The death of a child – and other “backwards” trials of life – can leave us spiritually gasping for breath. We feel the wrongness of such an event on at least two levels: general day to day expectations, and deep inside where the sense of fairness/justice/rightness resides.
Children are conceived to be born, born to live, live to have rich and full experiences of life. Any interference, vertically or horizontally, deeply tests our souls.
Some would encourage us to have faith – and such is correct, as far as it goes. But faith is like the tubing leading from an oxygen machine to the mask of a patient – essential, but what is needed is the oxygen! So faith connects us to what is essential – or, more correctly, who is essential – God. We certainly need faith, but we need Him, His words, His truth, His presence to bring us through those gut-wrenching, horrific experiences that life brings.
We must be cautious in another way. Sometimes what we think is faith is actually analysis. If we can simply figure out the situation, see what the benefits are, see the “why”, then our souls can rest more easily. This is not faith, it’s understanding – and it’s potentially dangerous (see Proverbs 3:5-6) – because our souls cannot feed on understanding over the long term – and there’s always the good possibility that our analysis is wrong! There’s certainly nothing wrong with asking (or crying out, for that matter) “why” – Job and the Psalms are full of such questions – but the asking is, ultimately, another way of finding God.
So, seek to understand – have faith – but remember both are vehicles to experiencing God’s presence, comfort and truth – not answers in and of themselves.
(We also experienced a birth in the last 24 hours, a source of joy!)