It’s between the rock and the hard place. Between the devil you know and the devil you don’t. It’s at the crossroads of unanswered prayers and thwarted desires, deeply held but conflicting priorities, impending doom to the one side and catastrophes to the other. It’s where ironies tumble one upon the next and paradox makes your head spin. God is working the intersections.
Here where what you hoped for proves to be a nightmare, you might yet catch a glimpse of Him. Or there, where the worst has happened and it seems to be strangely turning out for the best.
You’d think a benevolent God would show up with a third choice when you’re stuck between two equally abhorrent options. So often He doesn’t. Through the agonizing pros and cons, the Wise One teaches wisdom. We learn to cry out for help when we stumble. And the church always shines brightest, grows strongest, in the throes of persecution.
It shouldn’t surprise us. After all, this is a God whose greatest moments seem to coincide with the ugliest history: the drowning of an army, the murder of a king. This is a God who gave us Job and Ecclesiastes, who doesn’t flinch at the hammer and anvil, but pounds out blessing with a weighty thump.
But this is also the God who, right from the beginning, spoke light into the darkness. “And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.” Dawn, as it’s been said, always gets the last word.
This is no distant, clean hands God, but a born-in-a-barn God, a get-down-in-the-muck God. He doesn’t dole out suffering nonchalantly, He is a weeping God, a longing God, God of passion and compassion. Whatever else we know, we know He is Love.
It doesn’t do us any good to downplay the obstacles, to trade in fortitude for fluff. But it’s not any better to sink under calamity like a broken boat in a storm. Listen, if the only thing you know for certain is that God is good, and God is in control, that’s enough. Hope will be an anchor for your soul.
Should CNN batter our hearts with relentless bad news, we can hang on to that hope, grip the ropes, ride the waves. Healing follows pain, beauty’s born in ashes, grace always bends to meet us in our brokenness.
Maybe this will be a year for beatitudes. Listen to Jesus’ words from Matthew 5.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The Fray found God at the corner of 1st and Amistad. I say we can find Him between a rock and a hard place, under the mercy, in the mystery. And hey — what’s that gleaming in the shadows? I’ll be darned. Hope leads straight on to joy.
We’re not home yet, not by a long shot. But one day soon(ish), the sun will rise and just keep on rising. (There is evening, and there is morning, the Last Day.)