Beauty for Ashes

I don’t know why God doesn’t always step in and fix the things that are broken.

I don’t know why people who knew the Lord get divorced.

I don’t know why children die.

I don’t know why prayers go unanswered and mountains aren’t moved.

And for a while now I think I have been carrying an anger about this. I have begged God, weeping and groaning, my spirit outstretched and contorted, pleading for the Creator of the Universe to captivate his creation. I have wanted to see justice. I have wanted to see grace. I have wanted to see all the things God says he is play out in a situation that needs him.

But it hasn’t worked. So I stopped begging. I dried off my face, I gathered back my spirit and I accepted the things I cannot change – or rather, the things I thought God was refusing to change. I prayed for peace. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed to be alright with things that are not alright.

And in doing this I accepted that God failed. My pride would never admit it, but my behavior had formed to a new mindset. I think (and I say “think” as I am still processing) that I believed he was less powerful than I grew up believing. Or maybe I thought he didn’t care. He was okay with shattered lives. I guess I let myself believe that it didn’t hurt him.

But when I turn to the Bible I see a God whose heart is moved by all that is wrong down here. I see a God who hates sin and it’s consequences. Hates when terrible things happen for no knowable reason. A God who fights for justice and wages war to set people free. I see compassion and strength and remorse.

And I see a God who refuses to make our choices for us. I see a Creator who delights in his creation and looks to see what they will do. I do not see a Mighty Chess Player who makes all of our moves for us, but a Father who instructs and then watches and waits for us to make our decisions, stepping in and helping precisely when He knows we really need it. Or when we ask Him to. Or when He is moved to do so without our deserving it. I think He has left the “when” and “how” a bit of a mystery for us. He gets to make that call. Sometimes He chooses to be silent… I don’t get that either.

But Romans 9 says that God has not failed. That just because people make terrible choices doesn’t mean that he is not Good. And along those lines, just because tragedy strikes does not mean He doesn’t care. This is hard to wrap my mind around… But I trust Him.

We have all been hurt by other peoples’ bad judgement, by their selfishness, by their deceit. We have all experienced injustice and pain. Some have experienced this to greater degrees than others, but none of us has escaped the thorns of living in this world.

But I am learning that these things matter to God. And that when my heart is shattered into a million pieces and I shake my fist at the heavens, God is sympathetic. He is there with remorse over what has happened. I am learning that His heart, like a good Father’s, is to protect His children and like a good Mother’s, is to comfort them when bad things happen anyway.

Has God failed? By no means! Somehow I have seen Him work some of the most horrific stories into stories of grace… And not always by removing the horror… He is in the business of turning ashes into beauty. I just don’t understand it at all. But I’m learning that I truly do not need to.

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