Saturday, January 10, 2015

When is God still good?

It somehow seems unfair that pain, grief and suffering are already present just days into the new year. These unwelcome guests have showed up in the lives of those dear to me and plan to stick around for a while.

Thursday night, I received a call that a precious friend whom I love deeply has an aggressive form of cancer that has spread. The man who taught me how to fight now has quite the fight ahead of him in the days to come.

Also Thursday, another friend and former co-worker was taken off life support and all medications and we now wait. Wait to see if she makes a miraculous recovery even with no brain activity. Or wait to hear the unthinkable. How a stomach bug became a heart attack makes absolutely no sense to me.

I don't get it. It's in times like this that I wonder: is God still good? Is he still kind? Can he still be trusted?

Some hard truths I've discovered over 30-some years of living:

We live in a broken world.
Bad things happen to good people for no reason.
Good things happen to bad people for no reason.
We pray for people and they live.
We pray for people and they die.
Life is a beautiful mess of pain and suffering and joy.
We are all going to die -- a realization that should prompt us to live in a way that matters.
Life sometimes doesn't make a lick of sense.
Losing people sucks.
Life is hard.
Life is good.
Life is still worth living and fighting for.
God doesn't promise us a pain-free life.
Photo by Suzanne Stelling

I don't know many things right now. But here's what I do know and have experienced from 20 years of being a Jesus follower:

God cares and weeps with us.
He is near.
He *loves* us extravagantly.
He uses family and friends as tangible expressions of that love.
He holds us when we can't hold on.
It's OK to be angry and confused.
God is with us in the midst of the mess.
He comforts.
He carries us.
He is kind.
He sees.
He is faithful in the hard places.
He meets us exactly where we are.
He can still be trusted.
Weeping and sorrow may endure for some time. But joy WILL come.
God is still good even if the worst happens. Even if.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year, New Focus

Happy 2015, y'all.
Suddenly, the years are zooming by the older I get. Crazy!

My theme for 2014 was "Be Free." I learned how to live more authentically and honestly. I learned (and I'm still learning!) what it meant to be free of and not be ruled by my own expectations of myself, my expectations of others and their expectations of me. (As a people-pleaser, this was huge and hard to do but so good!)

In the midst of all that living last year, some big things happened: I finished grad school; I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; I met a good man.

I've been thinking of what I want my theme to be for 2015. It came to me as last year drew to a close: Be Aware. This year, I want to be more aware of God's presence and what he's up to in the world; to be more aware of the people around and in my life; to be aware and really *see* with new eyes the wonder in the mundane and routine things, in spite of the hard and crazy things life may throw my way.

I also want to use my words well this year. Use my words to breathe life into people and not death; blessing and not cursing; healing and not destruction. I want to say hard things in love when the situation calls for it. I want to love people well. I want to live more authentically. I want to love Jesus fiercely.

I have great anticipation in my heart as I wait to see how this year will unfold. I have a sneaky suspicion it’ll have its share of joys, uncertainties, hard things and adventures. To these I say, bring it! Because however the year shakes out, I know one thing will remain true: God is still good.