Diapers and Dragons

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Don't Know What Else to Say

A week ago on Palm Sunday the assistant pastor at my church spoke about the dark reality of Holy Week. The Church often skips from the joyful celebration of Palm Sunday to the Joyful Celebration of Easter, she said, without considering the week that lies between. We looked at the portrayal of Christ in Mark as he rode down the dusty road on an ungainly mule too young, too little, to really bear a full-grown man. However many people there were on that road, whether or not there were children there, whether or not they lay down palm branches or just long grasses, He was silent. They heralded an earthly King, one they believed would save them from the shackles of Roman rule, and He knew that in a matter of days they would turn snarling upon Him for the betrayal of this dream. Nowhere does any Gospel record Him facing what was to come with joy. He knew all too well what torment lay in wait. He faced it with groans of anguish, tears of blood, and heartcries to His Father.

Holy Week it is, but it is a dark week of pain.

I was out of tune this last week, out of touch with blogging and news and all that as I dove into appointments and sick kidlets and such. So when I sat to read blog after blog today, I was struck by posts like this and this. This last week has, indeed, been a dark one in many ways, one that brought tale after tale of death and sorrow all over the world. I think perhaps when we see news about groups--bombings and natural disasters and wars and rumors of wars that affect masses of faceless people--it becomes easy to distance ourselves somewhat, unless we're thrust into the middle ourselves. But when we see tragedy befall individuals, and in particular the innocents, the babes who drew breath for far too short a time, the full horror comes home.

THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! we cry to the Heavens.

I'm distancing myself by using the pronoun "we." I cry this to the Heavens. My faith, so newly reborn, so easily drawn back into the darkness of decades, rocks with the injustice. And when Her Bad Mother asks Does faith offer the possibility of meaning in loss, does it provide relief from the fear? Or does loss in the presence of faith feel like betrayal? and declares I feel betrayed. By God. By life. By whatever force in the universe is supposed to make these things make sense; when she cries out in pain for who knows how many other unknown children of unknown parents, suffering unknown loss, untold betrayal at the hands of gods who, promising love, deliver death and pain -- how can I respond?

It's all too easy to come up with all the cliches that people come up with at times like this. They're with God now, or They're no longer in any pain or We don't know the bigger picture or, perhaps worst of all, It's God's will.

I refuse to believe that death and pain, especially that of innocents, are God's will. That he desires this. If I am to have faith in God, a God of Love and Justice, then such a thing makes no sense.

But neither do I believe that God says that bad things, that death and pain, will not happen because of that love. We love our children, but bad things happen to them--because of their choices, because of the choices of others. And if we try to protect them from all harm or prevent them from making any choices that may have negative consequences, we stifle their growth or turn them into mindless puppets or both. I can believe that God mourns when, in the brokenness of this world and our own selves, we suffer. I can also believe that he is able to use the suffering in our lives to create beauty.

It's harder to apply this to the death of children, especially when they die so suddenly, like Thalon, from what just a few short days before seemed a simple infection, or for no apparent reason whatsoever, like Maddie. And such news strikes tremendous fear in me as a mother. DramaBoy had scarlet fever this last week. I took it in stride, even made jokes about it. I trusted in medicine and God to protect my son.

But--What If? What if he had proven to be resistant to the medication? What if his little body had been overwhelmed by the toxins? It's all too easy to imagine the frantic rush to the hospital and the hours by a bed--I was there when he was only nine weeks old. Would my faith have been rocked to its foundations? Would I have been able to forgive God? Would I have turned away, cold and empty, lost in my pain?

I don't know. What I cling to is that this is a broken world, one in which we are faced with such immense sorrow, but that God is not broken.

And Christ did not go to the tree to save a nation from the shackles of the Romans, but to save a world, throughout all time, from the earliest humans all the way to me and Her Bad Mother and Tanner and Thalon and Maddie and every other being stumbling our way through whatever length of time we have...

...to save us from the shackles of death. Because though I am not wise enough to understand why the innocent suffer, I can cling to faith that there IS a greater reality beyond what we can see in our myopic existence.

Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
--Psalm 30:5 (New Living Translation)

3 bits of love:

Kathleen said...

TeacherMommy, you needn't say anything else!

Her Bad Mother said...

This helps me, it really does.

Thank you.

mom said...

Wise, with a wisdom grown in the hard soil of experience, of brokenness. You said what can be said. And thank you for letting us see into your heart so transparently.

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