When mourning chills again

I don’t think the book of Job is about suffering as a theoretical problem — why do the righteous suffer? I think it’s about suffering as a practical problem — when (not if) the righteous suffer, what does God expect of them? And what he expects is trust. When the righteous cannot connect the realities of their experience with the truths of God, then God is calling them to trust him that there is more to it than they can see. As with Job, there is a battle being fought in the heavenlies.

Trust in God, not explanations from God, is the pathway through suffering.

~ Ray Ortlund on the Book of Job

I cannot connect the reality of this experience to truths of God that I hoped for in this circumstance - mercy, hope, love, joy, peace. My spirit shrinks from the idea that it reflected justice, sovereignty, some unknown grace. I still can't bring myself to throw away this pregnancy test, nor the note that accompanied it. I found it perched on the same window sill, where it was abandoned as I rushed Amelia to the hospital with encephalomyelitis the very day after I took the test. I returned home from surgery, the remains of my baby neatly excised, slice, and stored in paraffin wax blocks. And there it was: unmistakable proof that it wasn't a bad dream, it wasn't just a mistake or a test. It was my reality. A miracle...and a mirage...a magnality...and a manqué. Yesterday I spent much of the day processing again, and wondering why it just won't go away. Wishing I could shrug pain and memory off my shoulders like the shroud it resembles. Wishing it never happened. Wondering what pain will enter in next.

I walked into Saver's on Friday, on a mission to find something for the a fun weekend in Ashland with my brother and sister-in-law. On a whim, I prayed as I walked in the door - for cross country ski boots with a three-pin binding pattern. For under $5. After searching the store unsuccessfully for both items I was in search of, I found these hideous blue cross country boots in the bottom of a barrel full of skis. To tell the truth, I don't even know why I looked there. But I did, and there they were. Perfect size, perfect fit, perfect binding system, but with no price tag. I brought them to the front and the clerk priced them at $2.99. Just a little wink from the heavens, one of those thousands of ways I mentioned last week, the ways that God proves himself to me. I suppose I could embark on my first voyage in these boots assuming that I will break my leg. After all, I do eat too much and I'm probably out of shape, and I suppose it could be justice or sovereignty for me to break my leg. Against the odds, I instead feel a sense of hope.

He's unpredictable, this God I serve. Some days the gifts crowd around my soul, and I am warmed and filled by God's goodness, grace, extravagance, mercy. On others, it is losses that creep in and I look around and see ghosts and pale shadows, dust and cobwebs and bottles of tears, and I see God's shoulders and back instead of His face. I emerge slowly from that cold place, and the chill remains on me for a time. I think it is simply the chill of death and grief and separation. While my lips praise the God who saved me from these things in eternity, my body mourns the losses that are still the consequence of the sins of this wandering soul and the entire world.

I choose, simply and quietly and sometimes even resignedly, to trust in God. Not in explanations. Explanations fade and are lost when the circumstances of today are but a thin memory. God will never fade, nor forsake, nor fail.

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.
My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God...
(Job 16:19-20)