A quick blog post came to mind this week in the midst of the
array of poems during my three weeks of reflection during this
season. I leafed through my well-worn copy of Philip Yancey's
Where Is God When It Hurts?, recalling how helpful it was
when Josh was in the hospital during the first months of 2009
with RSV. I recall Yancey asking the titular question and answering, "He is in you--the one who is hurting--not in it, the thing that hurts."
I have to admit I wrestled with that. This was coming to the close (although I didn't realize it) of two years of hospitalization agony that began with Jordan's birth and continued with Joshua's surgery in July 2007 and continued recovery. And the words looked up at me from the page, that God was NOT in the anguish...huh?
In my faith tradition, I've held to believe that everything happens under the auspices of God...the theological leaders who penned the seventeenth century Westminster Confession of Faith said God's will happens through direct and secondary causes. Either God does something or God permits it, and nothing surprises him. Fair enough, I'd thought for some time, but the present cyclone of hardship was wearing thin. And I was supposed to believe that God was not in the provision of pain?
Of course, in the wider context of the book, I came to reflect that the bigger picture was that God entered into our pain. In fact, God was experiencing the anguish with me, bearing every tear and piece of sorrow. That didn't solve our family's sadness or any quandary easily. But I was reminded that God not only was with me in my grinding difficulties; he himself was enduring it with me and for me. In fact, he already had endured more than I ever imagined.
Indeed, without the Cross, what's the point of facing life's trials?