You may have read this book in your youth, when everything was black and white and simple. From it, you could quote with alacrity such truisms as:
“This too shall pass.”
“If you don’t want to get burned, don’t play with fire.”
“They’re in a better place now.”
“It was God’s will.”
“He won’t give you more than you can handle.”
“At least you have [fill in the blank].”
“When I have kids, they’re never going to act that way.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have [done whatever action you did that resulted in something negative].”
My own copy was well-worn when I was younger. And I really believed I was being helpful.
Life has taught me otherwise. Death and pain and travail and suffering have taught me a better way. They have purchased for me a better book.
The Facts of Life.
And the facts are these:
Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it’s no one’s fault.
I don’t know what I would have done in a given situation, no matter how clear it seems to my eyes. Ever.
Sometimes people are too near to the fire through no fault of their own. Be compassionate. You have no idea why they got burned.
Anything that follows “At least” in a sentence directed to a grieving person is probably a stupid thing to say. No matter how well intentioned.
I was only a perfect parent until I had my own children.
I know nothing.
God does give you more than you can handle. All the time. If he didn’t, what on earth would you need God for? If he hasn’t yet, he will. I promise you that.
Death sucks. And grief is hard. And it isn’t God’s ideal for us. It may be worked into his plan and will for our lives, but it’s not what he wants for us. He died to set us free from death. For now, grief is all we have to keep us healthy in the face of death.
My favorite truism from the Facts of Life is this one:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33 (NIV)
Did you know that it’s okay to hate what happens to you? You don’t have to like your circumstances in order to prove your faith and trust in God. Trust really is a conscious act of the will. It is not a facade we put on to hide how horrible things are.
To look like a Christian is not the same thing as being happy all the time. That’s complete and utter bull. Even Jesus wasn’t happy all the time. He wept. He got angry. He called names. He became exasperated with those he loved, who refused to understand. He got tired. He sweated blood because he got stressed out.
But he chose to trust God anyway. He set an example. And I love him for it.
And who are we that we think that we (or anyone else) can hold it together better than Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
The audacity of us. The pride.
Burn your copy of the Book of Easy Answers. Never buy it again.
The cost is too great.
Grace & Peace,