The big “I don’t know”

My phone lights up and buzzes with words and news from friends both near and far away.  I stroll across the living room and grab it, always wondering what the display will bring, good news, bad news?  Life has conditioned me to be on guard when the phone goes off.  Lately it seems like the phone is programmed for bad news, like death is everywhere clamoring to grab hold of the people around me.  And in a way, it is.

These messages often come with an urgent request for prayer.  “Will you pray?”  My loving heart longs to help so, of course.  I will pray.   I close my eyes, open my heart and go to our father with a shaking spirit and simple words. “God, please?  Will you come? will you heal? will you give more beautiful days on this earth?  Can this be one of those miracle stories?  I know you have those to give.”  Sometimes healing comes in breathtaking beauty, but sometimes it doesn’t.

More than once the bible tells us that by faith we are healed, it speaks of an army of heavenly warriors who rocket down from heaven to kick tail on our behalf.  However, when I am on my knees begging for healing, my mind can’t help but drift back to moments that have passed where I went to my knees over and over again and the chariots stayed in heaven.  As time passed my prayers ended on my knees by a headstone.  I’m sure your prayers have gone that way too.  So I think the dark question that even the strongest of us ask in our hearts is: Why?  Why do some get miracles and some get headstones?

I have come to an answer to this question and it doesn’t draw heavily on any of the classes I took at bible college or seminary.  I am falling in love with the simplicity of “I don’t know.”

Once you have kids you realize just how much family language there is in the bible.  We are so often compared to the children of God and he is referred to as our father over and over again.  The longer I parent, the deeper I resonate with this language.

Lately, I’ve learned so much about myself through disciplining and leading my 2 year old daughter.  She does pretty well most of the time, but she does throw tantrums and test boundaries, she’s human and she’s 2.  The thing that keeps catching my attention is how strongly she wants her own way, and how she doesn’t seem to trust me much anymore.  She trusts I will feed her, clothe her and kiss her, but when I say something is dangerous she often marches out to do it anyway.

These experiences have  struck a deep parallel with my confusion on one of life’s biggest questions: “Why are some healed, and some not?  Why do some live long, and some die young? Even when we have strong faith, why does the healing hand stay in heaven?”  I don’t know why and if there exists an answer to this question we couldn’t handle it.  But I feel like some deep understanding can be found in my own relationship with my daughter, I just know better than she does, I can see a bigger picture.

Here is what I know in my deepest heart:

1) God loves us, but he hates sin
2)  Our world has the love of Jesus but at the same time, the death giving sin abounds
3) Sin = Death… at some point.
4) When we hurt, so does God.

So I’ve started to learn from what my 2 year old is still trying to grasp:  God has a whole realm of understanding that I just don’t have.  He doesn’t send all pain for a reason, sickness and death is bound to come our way but he isn’t up there sending cancer and car accidents like lightening bolts.  That’s sin, with its black, sticky fingers all over our sphere of green and blue.

We know that he can prevent death, prolong it, but that he doesn’t always and this just feeds our “why” question.  My peace with my father keeps coming to me in the moments where I force my daughter to hold my hand as we cross the busy road in front of church.  It is a matter of faith and trust.  I correct my baby girl when she needs it, but I don’t cause her to scrape her knee or get ear infections.  That’s a part of being alive, and in this simplicity I find the answer, or rather the lack of one.

There isn’t an answer, there is just another situation where we grab onto his hand.  When my skin bleeds he holds me, he didn’t push me over or cause it, it’s just part of being alive.  He trains me, he’s molding me and I don’t understand the half of it.  I’m just learning to throw less tantrums and take a trusting breath of faith.  Finding peace in “I don’t know” is one of the Mt Everest situations of our faith journey, so I’ll just keep climbing until I make my own exit, foothold by foothold and day by day.

Wherever you are, you have or will wrestle with this question.  I beg you to keep holding his hand, even when you slip just thrust your hand out again and he’ll be there to hold it.