Why, God? Why are you allowing this to happen? Why do you leave all this open to uncertainty and probable destruction? Are you truly in control or is there only so much you can do to protect and uplift those caught in the tangled webs of trouble they have spun for themselves? Do you care as deeply as we do for our loved ones? Is it possible that you perhaps care even more, and that your heart shatters along with the pieces of ours that break as we watch those we love self-destruct and lose themselves to the misery of troubled lifestyles that can boast no hope of success? Do you, like us, try everything within your power to redeem and restore those who seem so certainly lost?
These are the questions that stare me in the face as I try to seek God and His goodness in this strange and unlovely point in my life and my walk with Him: the life I have been living the past few years is one that seems to be marked by perpetual grief that sometimes, for one bright moment, appears to enter into remission and then seems to rebirth itself uglier and stronger than ever, threatening to destroy any sliver of hope that dares to spring up unassumingly in the way of its path. The pain of watching someone close to me caught in a lethal and self-destructive lifestyle seems unending and is unlike any I have yet to come across in my lifetime. Grief has long lingered in the shadows, but until quite recently I was somehow able to minimize its presence in my life: yet I now find that it begins to encompass not only my relationship with the person I grieve for, but all other relationships I encounter in my world. It seeks to perpetuate my moods and color my experiences. It finds me at my highest and lowest points, seeks me sober or not, and even invades my sleep and my dreams. It makes its presence and power known in the common places, as well as the unlikely areas, of my life.
Grief is a fascinating thing. It can motivate us to acknowledge and overcome, or to instead succumb to its paralytic powers. Like death, it is an equalizer that extends its open arms to each person on earth in one way or another. Grief is remarkable not only in intensity of its desire for a relational closeness to each person it affects, but in the effect it has in the life and actions of each individual that it chances to find struggling beneath the weight of its grasp. It brings out the ugliest and most broken parts of each of us, often causing us to analyze and fight against each human relationship present in our lives. For some of us, it causes us to question our very faith in God and our hope in life.
The way of grief is not easy, nor is it predictable. Each day, my emotions and outlook on life seem vastly different than they were just the day before. At times, these things can even change from moment to moment, which one could probably deduct would make for numerous difficulties in relationships, goals, and obligations. These days, stability in these areas seems scarce for me, and it feels as though my entire life is under unending construction, and I am left to my own devices, operating an old, unreliable car as I maneuver the various roadblocks and potholes that seem to appear out of nowhere.
Yet I know I am not alone. Even in that old, beat-up car on that unmaintained highway, I am acutely aware of another presence that offers His help and guidance as I try to make my way to better roads. Cynics may laugh and skeptics may scoff—as even I find myself doing at my lowest points—but I have found this presence to be one that never leaves and refuses to forsake. Even as I struggle and push away, seeking to find solace in drink or self-pity, I find that my Father’s arms are constantly and widely spread out in the grace of welcome and desire. In the times I seek to trust my own finite knowledge and understanding, looking for alternate explanations and attempting to dismiss His presence in my life, He shows me time and again, through admonition, through humor, through discipline, love, and grace, that He is indeed my Fortress and ever-present help in times of trouble. I find Him working in impossible situations, speaking to me through the words and help of others, causing speedy and visible change in circumstances when I go to Him with my Christian brothers and sisters in prayer. As much as I would sometimes like to deny that presence in my life and instead go my own selfish and very limited way, my God lovingly proves me wrong—even in the darkest of grief-laden days.
In the midst of grief, I will choose to hold to the truths and the proof He has made so evident in my life. On a night like tonight, when anger, sadness, pain, and confusion seem unrelenting as they fight for control of every part of my life, and my flesh desires nothing more than to dull its senses in drink and sleep, and depression begs me to once again open the door and welcome her back in, I, even amidst my weak humanity and wilful nature, by the Grace that lives within me, seek instead to find and hold to my Fortress. I choose to relinquish the reins of control, and the despair and the doubt and offer them up to Him who has already proven to me over and over His love and trustworthiness. Like Job, I can fight and doubt, beseech and demand, but I will not curse the Lord. Even as my gaze and my grief seem constantly focused on my loved one who flirts so skillfully and unabashedly with death, I am reminded that I can instead fix my gaze on the One who has gone before and has overcome even the power of the grave, and who can take the heart of stone and transform it into one of flesh, a new creation that seeks not sin nor self, but Him to glorify.
Oh, God, come quickly.