There are some circumstances in my life right now that are at maximum suckage. If in fact suckiness was an electric guitar amp, some doofus from Spinal Tap would have cranked it all the way to 11. I’m not in a position that I want to blog directly about this sucky event. I hope that doesn’t seem coy.
Instead, I want to blog a bit about suckiness in general. As I’ve been searching for a Godly way to deal with all this, I’ve found myself in the amazing hands of CS Lewis. There is this quote that really struck a chord with me. It’s from a Grief Observed:
The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is… hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness… Suppose you are up against a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more he will go on cutting.
This resonated with me because I’m feeling a bit like I’m on The Great Surgeon’s operating table. And I think the temptation is tell me, as I submit to his scalpel, that I am all wrong. But let’s be careful here. Some bizarre circumstances lead to you as a metaphorical cheer leader while God operates on me. As you get those pom-poms ready, the thing is, first off, you’re not just disagreeing with me. You’re disagreeing with C.S. Lewis. And C.S. Lewis, his works are like honorary scripture. You can’t disagree with him.
Snarkiness aside, you can’t disagree with him because he’s not all wrong.
I’m not saying it’s all right. There are other mitigating factors. There are truths to hold in tension with this truth. While we hold the image of God as a merciless surgeon in one hand, we certainly can hold the image of God as a loving father in the other. While we grasp the reality that the surgeon would be unmoved by our cries, we can grasp on to the truth that God enters history for us and through us; he feels our pain. He cries with us.
These gentler truths help me to bare up under the more difficult ones. But I have this awareness, as I am in this pain. This is the thing that I am aware of:
We have this tendency to want to invalidate the harsh truths. We want this immature and one-sided view that lives in denial of the more difficult things. Perhaps it is built into us. Perhaps it is a sign of the times.
We want to go back the way that we came. We want to return to the Garden of Eden through the exit we were kicked out of.
We want to yell at Job to snap out of it. We want him to just forget what he knows and climb out of the ashes. We want Elisha to turn a blind eye to the terrible things he saw. We want Jesus to say, “Just kidding, it didn’t really hurt at all.”
I’m holding on to something. I wish I could say I was holding it firmly. I’m getting there. And the thing I’m holding on to is this:
There will be a time and a place beyond the tears. It’s easy to think what I really want is to have my knowledge and experience erased. The world, and often even the church, they tell me that I ought to just look past the hard things.
But do I really want that? Do I want to find it was just all a roll-playing game at the end? The apparent struggling and pain were actually meaningless?
I’m not sure if I’m saying what I want to say, but the point is that maybe we should stop trying to back up and drive around the pain, uncertainty, despair. Maybe we get to some new place by driving through it.