I now realize I couldn’t have prayed enough, given enough, and I certainly could not have understood the true meaning of their pain until now. I never realized the true feeling of the splitting, gut-wrenching pain that has taken a home within my chest. The sun seems dim, the stars seem to fade, the wind seems to cut through to the bone.
– Rick Hendrix in It’s Cancer: God, Why Didn’t You heal Them?
God is felt in places too deep for words, in depths beyond ideas and concepts. God is felt in pain and sorrow and contradiction.
Alan W. Jones
The travesty of illness, the fundamental unfairness when one so young, who has lived life so well, so virtuously, so healthfully, so lovingly, is struck down is nearly, nay simply, too much to bear.
We comfort ourselves with the idea that it’s all (whatever we cannot understand) part of some greater scheme that we are too small, too meek, too human to fathom, but does it not then stand to reason that the schemer is unthinkably cruel?
How – how do we rationalize the existence of a merciful God who shows no mercy? Who plucks human beings at the primes of their lives and, for no discernible reason, slowly and tortuously breaks their bodies until they are no longer habitable. How do we explain the suffering?
Yes, I know, the sufficiency of God’s grace. I’m sorry, but I’m calling challenge. Look into the eyes of those you love, hear them as they wail, hold them as they tremble and wretch, then tell me in that moment that in the absence of God’s help, his grace is sufficient.
Perhaps the answer is that it is by our own hand that we have created these diseases and in so doing have brought upon ourselves our own slow and painful demise. We’ve polluted our water, our air, our food. We clean our houses with carcinogens, dump chemical waste into our oceans and rivers, allow the detritus of our obsession with ease to leech through our soil and into our reservoirs. Fine. We did it. All of it. And yet still I ask, where is God?
Where is he when the good ones are struck down? Does a father not do everything in his power to protect his children, to save them, even from themselves? And when his power has no bounds, does he not simply stop the senseless suffering?
Where is God when we pray for a reprieve? Giving us strength to face the horror, we’re told. Comforting us in the cloak of our faith, they say. Waiting to walk us into Eternity. Too small to fathom his plans indeed.
I asked Noelle about God. Not asked, perhaps, but opened a door to the conversation we’d never had before. She told me that she believes that God is a vast collection of spirits. It was – is – an overwhelmingly beautiful thought.
As I chewed on the idea over the following days, I thought of Christmas. Of the crossroads that we reach when our children ask if Santa Claus is real and we tell them, yes, my loves, he is, but he is made real by all of us. And now that you know the secret, you get to be part of making the magic for those who have not yet crossed over the same threshold. You receive the magic until it’s time to BE the magic.
What if God’s magic, his omnipresence and his power, are made real by US? By an ethereal web of souls who have passed over to the other side of God – who have learned the secret. What if each of us, once departed, finds one another and, in so doing, becomes part of God?
My dear friend and sage, Barb Rentenbach says, “People are flecks of God. Each God fragment dispersed through space-time has a slightly different shape. One shape is not superior to another. All are necessary to complete the perfect, infinite, God puzzle. To be proud that one “tolerates”diversity is ludicrous. The whole system is the sum of its parts. Be your part. Connect with other parts and the God puzzle is revealed.”
Is that not the God that Noelle described?
I pull at the threads and cling to the contradictions, bigger and smaller than anything of which I can make sense. I trust that God’s chest is broad enough to absorb the blows of my fists, his arms strong enough to fold me into his embrace no matter how far I go in screaming my angst to the heavens, to him.
I dug up my tattered copy of Mister God, This is Anna. I went searching for the part that I’ve always loved – the part about the colored bits of glass. I couldn’t find it. Instead, I found this. And it felt right.
Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love, and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable.
“You see, Fynn, Mister God is different because he can finish things and we can’t. I can’t finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so it’s not the same kind of love, is it?”