Lately, I've been recognizing that I have a really bad memory. If I could, I'd trade it in for a newer model. I keep remembering all the things I should forget and forgetting all the things I should remember.
I forget the grace I've been shown, but I remember all the "rules" I learned as a kid.
I remember to try taking responsibility for everybody around me, but I forget to take responsibility for my self.
This week, I got a picture of something I don't want to forget. Let me offer a few words of back story:
I've spent several years engaged in a battle with God over why He allows bad stuff in the world. I've basically accused Him of being a bad Father, letting His children hurt one another so badly, kill one another, even, yet not getting involved.
Last week, Adam brought home the book The Shack. He spent two days reading a bit at a time. I'd heard the premise of the book--a man loses his daughter in the most horrible fashion, he is consumed with grief and a feeling of failure for not protecting her when it mattered most, he is invited to a meeting at the cabin where she was killed to meet with God. I had no interest in reading it. I can spin terrifying fantasies of what might be done to my daughter in this cold cruel world well enough without someone else's images to inform them.
After he finished the story, Adam stepped into the room where I was reading my light and fluffy novel, dropped the book beside me, and with tears in his voice, said I had to read it.
For the next several hours, I read it straight through. I didn't like it. I don't think it's the kind of book you "like" or "care for." I do recommend it, however, as it is thought provoking. Read it with some friends or your spouse and talk about it afterwards.
Unfortunately, the answers offered in the story as to why God allows pain and suffering really didn't allay the fears I had. The longer I've thought about it the more I still don't like it. Why should those who hate God be given the same grace that I get, when I'm trying my darnedest to love God? I know. He's God, so He can give grace to whomever He chooses. But don't I deserve ....
The other night, I was driving home from some time alone, thinking about my daughter. I don't want her to be hurt. I don't want to watch her be in pain, yet I know I can't avoid it. That's when I got the picture. I was seeing my daughter, all grown up into a beautiful woman. She was giving birth to her first child. She was in pain. I stood next to her, holding her hand, my arm around her shoulders, encouraging her, "You're doing great. I am so proud of you. You can do this!"
And I realized, this is how God views the pain in our lives. We live in a broken world; pain is inevitable. But He is there with us, holding our hands and encouraging us. He knows, in a way we cannot quite imagine, that this pain is temporary and will bring new life.
I want to remember this lesson always.