A storm came through last night
Clapping thunder that reverberated in my heart
Floods that crept up to my door
While I worried inside
You were not in the thunder.
I looked, eyes fixed on the window
But when the lightning struck
You were nowhere in my illuminated sight.
I curled up, pillows to my ears
Eyes shut tight but sleep far away
And as the thunder rolled farther off
I heard a tiny voice, scary close
Soft like the brush of cotton against my ear
I looked for you outside but you were here
Inside. This whole time.
I dug a grave, but you used it for seeds.
We think about it from time to time, usually after watching the news or hearing word of a friend who is hurting or suffering in some way. We are Job’s friends, casting judgment, thinking perhaps the calamity is a consequence for sin. Or perhaps God is teaching this person a lesson. We offer platitudes like “Everything happens for a reason.” Or “It’s all part of God’s plan.” And we mean well most of the time.
But when it’s you with the broken heart, you who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning, the lazy theology that shrugs off death and grief as “all part of God’s plan” is a bitter cup to drink and it will make you sick in time. When it’s you who is suffering, platitudes no longer soothe the soul, but create distrust in the God who supposedly planned your pain and ordained your cancer, abuse, abandonment, or mental illness. What comfort is there in God’s sovereignty if God aligns himself with evil, if these are the tools in his toolbox?
No, I need to know that God is angry at injustice, and that He weeps with me as I strain to see him in my distress. I need to know that the truth is greater than these simplistic, half-hearted theologies of God’s judgment or discipline. I need more than this.
When in 1 Kings 19 Elijah flees to Mt Horeb, hiding in a cave from Jezebel, the mountain is hit by series of incredible storms: wind, earthquakes, and fire. But God is not in these things. He is the whisper in the ear that follows.
For every time I’ve cried out “Why?” to God, I’ve been reminded that God doesn’t answer with reasons. God answers with his presence. He answers with “Me too.”
You feel abandoned and discarded? He says “Me too.”
You feel misunderstood and afflicted? He says “Me too.”
He sits with us in our caves. He climbs down into our self-dug graves. And he wraps himself in flesh and experiences death with us and for us.
God does not merely enter into human godforsakenness, he also accepts it for himself, making it a part of his own eternal life.
And not only does He say “Me too” but also “I win.”
He’s alive. He rose. He defeated death. He took it into himself and absorbed it. It’s not that death and pain and abandonment and loss glorify God–it is the conquering of them that does. And one day, when the kingdom is ready and the place is prepared, He will wipe all of those tears away.
One day He will reconcile all things. One day even death’s knee will bow. One day even loneliness and fear will confess that Jesus is Lord. Because God Himself inhabits those spaces right along with us and redeems them to Himself.
So take heart and find comfort in “Me too,” for He is close to the broken-hearted. And when even that seems hollow, look to “I win” because one day this will end. God does not glorify Himself in death and destruction but in life and resurrection. If there is any reconciliation or redemption on this side of life, it is merely a shadow, a foretaste of the glory that is to come. It may only be a whisper now, but one day it will be a chorus.