Thursday, July 17, 2008

unlikely ceremony

Today Israel and I went to Jacob's funeral. I sat there, watching this beautiful couple go through such a hard time and dwelt on the fact that nothing is certain in life. We serve a God who offers us no guarantees as to our life's circumstances. I have one friend who is having a particularly tough time with this, as she knows both families who lost infants this summer as well.

I have been thinking about a response to this time. When my friend told me what a hard time this brought on between her and God, I didn't really know what to say. I feel like I thought a lot about the problem of evil in college and went through my time of disbelief then. I told her I tend to just trust that I've already been through the questions. It takes a lot of emotional and intellectual energy to wrestle through such an issue, and I don't have the energy to do that again in life. I know the end result of my time of questioning was that I decided to trust God. But that answer just doesn't quite satisfy even me. After all, isn't that like putting faith in my own past questioning? That surely must be shaky ground.

I decided to think it through a little bit and reminded myself that there are three options: Good God, Bad God, or No God. Either God exists or He doesn't and if He does, He is either good or He is not. The problem(s) of evil notwithstanding, the world makes a ton more sense with God in it than not. And if there is a God, what is there to do besides trust him? We are helpless against him and totally at His mercy. Not yielding to an all-powerful Creator is, at best, not smart. There. I knew I had already thought this through.

But that's not a good response to someone in the middle of questioning. Perhaps it's correct, but it comes off a bit cold and calculated.

At the funeral, I stood beside my friend as we sang songs of worship to God -- songs about how God is good, no matter what, and how we are willing to go through tough times if only to know Him better. And I remembered that this relationship I have with God is just that: a relationship. At some point, I made a decision that I was going to trust God, no matter what. It was a bit like my wedding day: promising to do and be certain big things in the face of an unknowable future. On some level, you have no idea what you're really getting into, but you promise to believe the best about the other person and to fight for your relationship above all other human relationships. And a relationship with God is like a marriage, but the believing-the-best part is made more complicated by the fact that God has ultimate authority and is not ever wrong. If you find yourself disagreeing with Him, then, have some tough decisions to make. Either you can wrestle it through with Him, leave Him, or just trust Him despite your own judgment of the situation. This time, I think I'll take that final option. It's scary, since I know full well that there is nothing about me preventing some similar tragedy from coming my way. But I see how God loves people in the midst of this and that helps. It still doesn't make sense to me that these things happen when God is in control, especially as I found myself saying in the conversation with my friend that continues in my head, "When God takes charge of everything, He has said he will take away all of this sort of thing." But God IS in control now. And why doesn't that piece of heaven push its way into this crummy world? There is no good answer for that. But I look at Jesus, who, having all power, submitted himself to the pain and sorrows of this place and I know that I am to submit myself to whatever comes my way as well. I am to follow Jesus and trust that God knows what He's doing, no matter what happens in my life.

In that way, the funeral was a sort of renewal of my vows.


Eldon L. said...

Leslie, would you do my funeral?

Praising Him! Paula said...

I love you and your wisdom! I am keeping you all in my prayers!!

Sara said...

thank you for this, L. Miss and love you guys.