We sat in a quiet room with an ocean view. She poised on the edge of her chair, her body tense, and told her story—a painful, difficult one. She longed to look through the lenses of her long-time faith and find something beautiful in spite of all that.
“Heaven, heaven, heaven!” she spilled. “That’s all I hear. One day, our troubles will end—in heaven. We’ll find blessing—in heaven. Things will make sense—in heaven. But I live here on earth! Why not now? I just can’t….” She didn’t need to finish her sentence. I knew it. “I just can’t do it anymore.”
With the sea in the distance, and spring busting out all over, the setting alone was worth my long trip from my still-wintering prairie home. But I hadn`t come to ogle the scenery. I’d been flown in to talk. To spend five hour-long sessions discussing what it means to be Christian when life’s circumstances—pirates, monsters, madmen and beasts, I call them—assault us. To share a biblical perspective on pain and loss. To talk about how my husband and I have encountered God on our own journey through some very difficult years.
“Life is hard, but God is good,” I began, at the opening of the first session. “If you come away from this weekend remembering nothing else, take that home with you.” Pretty heavy stuff, for a group of mostly young women who had escaped their busy lives for a relaxing weekend by the sea. Not your usual “come away and be pampered” retreat menu. But they were gracious. As I spoke, I saw in their eyes a hunger to know that faith makes a difference. That God meets us on our hard journeys—and that he longs to make of our broken pieces an exquisite mosaic.
But when? She wanted to know. Is there no beauty here and now? And if so, why can’t I find it?
I understood completely. I too would rather God just left out life`s hard stuff. It messes with my longing for clear sailing. But I’m inspired by past and current believers whose faith not only remained intact, but considerably deepened during the worst of times. They speak of finding, in those times, a deep and abiding relationship with God—one they`d never experienced in better days.
Mere hours later, the Preacher presented expert testimony at the final of those five sessions. Sitting on his trusty walker seat, he spoke of the disease that disabled him five years ago. “No, I`m not completely healed. But that’s okay. Our circumstances are never about us.” Then he talked about the beautiful things God has done—is still doing—in others` lives through his pirates.
Got brokenness—and faith? Surrender your terms. Trust the evidence. Trust the God who proves every spring that he works miracles in the dark. In his time—perhaps well before heaven—you’ll see: life is indeed hard, but God IS supremely good.