Sometimes my relationship with God doesn’t look all that pretty. Sometimes it’s downright messy. But as I learned in the quiet darkness last night, I find the beautiful in the midst of the messy.
Come along as I walk you into that intimate moment.
I tend to do some pretty heavy thinking after the lights are out at night. For some reason that’s when any unrecognized sadness or burdens avail themselves. Last night was pretty typical. I had just put down a historical fiction novel I was reading. The setting was in the pre-Civil War days and a slave woman’s 9-year-old child had been sold into slavery and separated from his mother.
As I lay with these thoughts in my mind, I couldn’t help but think about such atrocities in human history and countless broken hearts through the centuries. Like a historical highlight reel, my mind replayed everything from Nero’s persecution of Christians to present day sex-slavery.
God, where were you when all those people were hurting so? You could have stopped it all. Why didn’t you?
Then I began thinking about the wars in Bible times, specifically when Joshua led the Israelites to conquer the people in Canaan, God’s Promised Land for Israel. I was already pretty miffed at God at this point, but now I got a little angry.
What about the children of those nations? I realize all of this symbolizes your great Gospel plan to rescue the world from their sin. I get the big picture. But are all the individuals nothing but pawns in your grand plan – no matter how truly grand it is? Where were you when they were crying out?
I guess you could say I had gotten pretty bold with God, but the late night hours are usually when I’m at my most raw. Still, in the middle of my rant, my heart was firm: even if I don’t understand it, even if I don’t like it, I still trust him. I’ll still follow him.
Out of nowhere a verse came to mind. It was so clear, so distinct, that I knew God had planted it there.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6 ESV)
I made myself repeat this verse in my mind and then…
Have I shown Myself to be this to you in your life?
Yes, Lord, absolutely. No doubt.
Then that settled it for me. I couldn’t explain why God had allowed and continues to allow so much suffering. But I knew at that moment that I didn’t need to understand it all. It’s probably too great for me to know anyway.
But I knew beyond any doubt that God has proven himself merciful, gracious, slow to anger, faithful, and steadfast in love…
when my dad was fighting in court to get his job back
when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the next year
when I was searching for where to attend college
when I struggled with depression and hated my job
when I was trying to conceive
when I battled postpartum depression
when my husband lost his job
when my father-in-law was dying of cancer
when I wanted to stay home with my children
when my mom was diagnosed with incurable cancer
Every single moment, God has proven faithful. I can trust him. Even when I don’t understand.
And do you know what else I learned last night? God doesn’t mind my coming to him, even being angry with him, as long as I’m willing to listen. Sometimes I think he’d rather me be gut-wrenchingly honest with him so I can open myself up to hearing his voice.
Oh what a sweet, tender moment we shared together last night. It started messy but ended full of beauty. I think I’ll start coming to him with my mess more often.