Here’s something I always find hard to articulate: We are used to the idea of “mountain-top” experiences, finding God in ecstasy and peace. But we do not write or talk about finding God in despair. We reject despair and death and depression and disease (dis-ease, unease) as being anti-God, as being a sign of the devil’s work in this world.
And yet, didn’t God make us to experience the good and the bad? The negative as well as the positive emotions? Jesus prayed with something close to depression and despair in the Garden, Jesus called out to a God whom he could not feel close to him on the cross. Jesus was fully human as well as fully God, but he was without original sin. So the “negative” emotions are not just the result of original sin and the distortion of God’s good creation.
That means we can find God in the negative as well as the positive. We can accept the negative as well as the positive. We do not have to find our way out of the negative to find God.
It was easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my husband Gordon’s death. There was a timeliness even in the untimeliness; there were many, many small and large mercies; there was a peace that passes understanding, and there was gratitude for the life of a good man.
It was not easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my unborn twin grandaughters’ death. And yet, when I read what I wrote at the time and later, when I consider what it has led me to become, to value, to release, to feel, then I know that God was there – not in any way that I wanted, but there.
He is there with me no less in my anger with Him than in my peace with Him. And I treasure that immensely. I can never seem to get that point across when I try to talk about it. I lose it in expressing my anger.
So I love God for the peace that He blessed me with in Gordon’s life and death and I hate God for taking the twins from us before we had a chance to be blessed by their lives. I love Him for the Scripture and I hate Him for how messed up He is allowing this world to be. I love Him for all He has blessed me with and I hate Him for what He has withheld from me.
And, most of all, I love that He is OK with all of that. He does not ask me to have a peace that I don’t have. He doesn’t ask me to accept quietly Madeleine and Lorien’s deaths. He doesn’t ask me to stop fighting against Him. I don’t have to accept without questioning or rest quietly in His peace. I don’t have to believe in order to teach, or have a faith that moves mountains in order to love His Scripture and the fellowship of His people. I don’t have to feel blessed and confident in troubles and problems and disease. I can be angry and resentful and I can yell at God just like I used to yell at Gordon when I was mad and frustrated. And God will keep on loving me just like Gordon kept on loving me. And, just like I kept on loving Gordon even when I was totally angry and frustrated with him, I can keep on loving God even when I am totally angry and frustrated with Him. It’s a mystery, but love and hate, peace and frustration, gratitude and anger are not incompatible opposites with God – at least not to me.