I’ve thought much as of late about the suffering of the world. About the suffering in me. The suffering in me as a microcosm of the suffering in the world. My own depression, anger, and loneliness magnified seven billion fold in the hearts of humanity. What a dark sea we are tossed about in. This reckless raging tempest that is the world. Flesh and bone, breath and blood, eternal and ephemeral. We are alone, and we are united.
Why does God not show? What is He waiting for? I was raised to believe the rapture and all the endless debate about timeframes and endtime scenarios. Yet the world carries on. Much like it did the day Rob died. “Sorry Ricky, Rob died last night…” Words that entered my ear, but not my heart. Steve, the guy running the cash register at Seiffert’s truck stop, told me about my best friend having died in a car accident. Rob and I played the video games at Seiffert’s almost daily, bought Mt. Dew, and rode our bikes around the massive parking lot. He said the words, and for a good five minutes I must have just stared at him. What did that mean that he died. This didn’t make sense to me. Rob was only seventeen. What does dead mean?
I walked out the door of the truck stop and the sun was shining. The wind was blowing. People stopped at the gas pumps to get a fill up of gas. Cars continued down the highway next to the truck stop. Rob was my best friend. Was he really gone? My brother. My best friend. From the day I stepped on the bus in kindergarten until the day he died when I was a sophomore in high school. In the blink of an eye. Gone.
I think about it every day. This formative event, forming me. Changing me and how I see the world. How I see God.
I grew up believing that most everyone was headed to hell. You had to say just the right word combination, and believe just the right things to get into heaven. According to my baptist upbringing, it was a pretty select few who would get thru those pearly gates. Everyone else, well sorry, but you’re headed to the bad place.
I find myself lately rejecting most everything that I was raised to believe. I’m worn down by it. The freedom I was told it would bring has actually brought torment and anguish. I want mercy where none was shown. I want grace where I thought none was possible. I want love it seems most absent.
And what of this end time? This Jesus Christ coming on the clouds and we will in the blink of an eye be caught up to be with him forever… What of this end times where God descends from heaven and brings low all those idolators and heretics, murders and malevolents, sinners each and every one. Where is this? “By August of 1997, Christ will return according to my calculations.” Or so my uncle taught me. Until September of that year all I could think about was having sex. I hadn’t had sex yet and I definitely wanted to before Christ came back. But you know, you had to be married as well to have sex and maybe my uncle was wrong. Here’s to hoping because I want to have sex before Jesus comes back.
What a world I was raised in. Believe this and you will go to heaven. Reject that and you’re headed to hell. Jesus is literally returning at any moment so get yourself right with the Lord. Oh and get married and have sex.
All the while, this world is burning. We’re told to save ourselves by being saved, but the world… the world is on it’s own.
I just read a book called When Invisible Children Sing about a young Taiwanese/American medical student who decides to serve the street children of Bolivia for a year. It is a pretty dark account of a man serving children who are rejected, beaten, raped, abused and tossed aside by the world. There is so much pain in each of their stories, and there isn’t a glimmer of hope through most of the book. Most of the time I found myself asking, “Where is God? Why doesn’t He do something?”
In a later chapter of the book you get just a little bit to think about when Chi, the main character, starts talking about opening a home for the street children where he can care for them and take them in.
Where is God? God is in Chi. This is what began to dawn on me. We wait, and we wait for this God to break down through the clouds. We wait for Him to step foot into our world and save us thus absolving us of all responsibility.
God is in my hands. God is in my feet. God is in my words. Where I go, God goes. Where you go God goes. This God who we all long for comes down in the flesh when we open our eyes and realize that we are Him. I don’t say this as a heretical “I am God” type of statement. Rather, I am the hands of God. I am the eyes of God. I am the words of God.
When I see pain, I can hold it with my hands and speak love to it.
My own pain be damned. For the worthlessness that it makes me feel of myself. For the loneliness that it pours into the quiet night around me, and the friends it strips from me. For the hell that I sometimes feel like awaits me… Christ gave it all up and faced the fall for the sake of his loved ones, and his loved ones are all. I want my loved ones to be all. I want every one to be ok. I want pain to end. I want death to die.
I want a mended world, and for that I believe I need a broken heart.
I’ve been drinking. I’ve been confronted again with my loneliness, and the hopelessness that sometimes wants to overtake me. It makes me want to scream. It makes me want to cry and hold my loved ones tight to my chest.
I want a mended world. I want hope to be real. Maybe that happens through my own hands, my own feet, my own eyes, and my own words. Maybe the God I doubt, shows up when I let myself suffer for and serve others.
Maybe I’m tired of doctrine and pointless conversations about God that don’t help those who are suffering, including me. Maybe I’m ready for a real God, who really loves. Maybe the god I was given was too small.
I have to believe, in light of the suffering of the world, the god I was told about isn’t up for the task. But maybe there is a God, who is ready to die for those He loves, again, and again, and again… and maybe He’ll do it through people who are lonely, depressed, and angry. Maybe He’ll do it through me, even in my doubt… even in my fear… even in my depression.