According to the dictionary on my computer – deluge means: “a great quantity of something arriving at the same time.” Certain seasons of life sometimes feel like this – – – > a deluge of difficulties, disturbances, and dilemmas. It’s kind of like 2017’s hurricane season – a series of heavy-duty hurricanes in quick succession. …How is a human being supposed to DEAL WITH this spasmodically normative life scenario?
One of the best things I know to do when questions like this arise is – turn to human beings who have more life experience than me. This would first and foremost include every human author represented in the canon of Scripture (as well as – and most especially – the Ultimate Author of all 66 books). It would also include people like Margie Haack. Marige and her hubby run a Mom & Pop writing operation, based in Minnesota. Margie mails me a quarterly publication called Letters from The House Between. In the most recent Fall Issue Margie candidly, and profoundly, points me to Jesus in the following excerpt:
I sit in my comfortable chair. A mug of coffee beside me. My slippers are lamb’s wool and leather. A fan softly cools the warming air. Bird song is so loud it’s audible through closed windows. The Bible is propped open just so. I’m reading John. It is the third day after Jesus died and Mary is sobbing. Heartbroken because he is gone. Disappeared. No one knows where.
Mary had reached that point in life, the day when it looks as if all you’ve hoped for – all the good you’ve imagined has turned to ash. Most of us have experienced such a day or even years. I only know a couple people whose lives are golden. I’m nonplussed and wonder if I should help them by arranging a bit of trouble. Really, how are they going to cope on the day their roof caves in if they’ve had no practice? So, most of us understand Mary because we have joined her at one time or another in weeping because of some one or something we’ve lost.
The world is pretty ugly with loss these days. Babies gassed in Syria. Coptic churches bombed. Immigrants trapped and baked to death in a closed semi truck in San Antonio. You don’t need CNN video clips to break your heart when a two year old washes up on shore. The trouble we witness is ages old. Sadly, nothing new.
Even closer to my heart: a friend’s prostate cancer has been up-ticked to stage four. Another dear friend, mother of two young ones, suddenly learns an aggressive breast cancer is attacking both sides and gobbling lymph nodes. Yesterday she was fine. Denis’ mother sobs every day for her dead husband. She can’t remember where he’s gone or how he abused her. She just wants him back. Speaking of pain, my right wrist is about as useless as a club. Good thing I’m left-handed.
Our home needs a new roof; if insurance doesn’t cover it, we have no money to fix it.
One week’s worth of troubles. Some devastating, some not so big, but enough to give us pause and wonder is Jesus with us? Is he nearby?
I’m still in my chair finishing a cup of cold pressed Java Estate Taman Dadar described as soft, smooth, dusty, chocolate, low acidity. Good grief. Some part of me thinks shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourself? Is it because your personal suffering is so small it allows you to calmly rock and drink as you watch the sky flame apricot?
NO Accusations today
I hush myself. No recriminations allowed today. My face drinks the rising sun because as I read on, in the next moment Jesus finds Mary on that day of grief and the whole universe goes viral with joy. He is risen! With every cell of my being, I believe Jesus will find all his dears – no matter how far our ashes scatter or how deeply our bodies are buried in the Earth’s rubble. With quiet anticipation I know something powerful is building on earth, in the galaxy, the universe, and one day this Savior, this Lamb we know as Jesus, will turn feral and fierce.
Morning coffee, slippers, Bible. No accusations, today.
Isn’t it a little ironic that the tender lover St. John who above told us about Mary getting found by Jesus and who later wrote the book of Revelation with the eye of one who actually saw the future and knows that for all the suffering that exists there is a terrible recompense coming, an unstoppable fury – a time when the Christ of God will destroy all those who destroy the earth and his people? This hope of all things coming round to wellness can seem remote and my comprehension is faulty and slow. But where else can we turn other than to this Lamb? Like iron filings to a magnet my cells cling to him. They are all, every one of them, betting on Jesus. Pay off is coming!
That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Kathleen Norris would put it like this: For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn’t know we needed and take us places where we didn’t know we didn’t want to go. As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before.
And Robert Farrar Capon would add that the reason God is so adamant about getting us in on His grace is because – – – > Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.