Chapter 5

I’ve been stuck now for weeks on Chapter 5 of Ann’s perspective altering book.  I’ve read the whole book and I keep coming back to Chapter 5.

“Daily discipline is the door to full freedom, and the discipline to count to one thousand {gifts/graces from God} gave way to the freedom of wonder and I can’t imagine not staying awake to God in the moment, the joy in the now.

But awakening to joy awakens to pain.

Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.  Pages of the gratitude journal fill endlessly.  Yet I know it in the vein and the visceral: life is loss. Every day, the gnawing…

What will I lose? Health? Comfort? Hope? Eventually, I am guaranteed to lose every earthly thing I have ever possessed….

What in the world, in a world of certain loss, is grace?

And the more of the blessings I name, this theological problem deepens, the kind that manifests itself between the breakfast table and last light out. If I am numbering gift moments to one thousand and now beyond–what moment in my life count as blessings?  If I name this moment as gift, grace, what is the next moment? Curse? How do you know how to sift through a day, a life, and rightly read the graces, rightly ascertain the curses?
What is good? What counts as grace?  What is the heart of God?

Do I believe in a God who rouses Himself just now and then to spill a bit of benevolence on hemorrhaging humanity? A God who breaks through the carapace of this orb only now and then, surprises us with a spared hand, a reprieve from sickness, a good job and a nice house in the burbs–and then finds Himself again too impotent to deal with all I see as suffering and evil? A God of sporadic, random, splattering goodness–that now and then splatters across a gratitude journal? Somebody tell me:
What are all the other moments?

What about those weeks and weeks of babies being sick and waking in the night.
What about the miscarriages of friends?
What about those moments in a room where the things that are said cut you to the marrow and tears only form later?
What about the misplaced dreams?
What about cancer?
What about the 45 minute search for your daughters shoes when you’re already running late?
What about cameras and the favorite lens broken?

What are all the other moments? 
And most of all:
Where is God in these other moments?
I’ve wrestled with this before.

But Chapter 5 nails it.
If Jesus can break bread and give thanks just hours before being betrayed by someone at the table…
If He can give thanks knowing that the morning will bring His own people begging to have Him murdered…
If He can give thanks when He already feels the scouraging, the crown of thorns, the heavy cross, the nails…
If He can give thanks knowing that soon He will loose communion with His Father and bear our sins…
If He can give thanks while enduring the vileness that brought sinners to the throne room…

What is the difference between our suffering and the God-man’s suffering innocently for our mistakes?

The difference is simple: He endured it, He gave thanks for the suffering, because He knew that the end result was endlessly good.

Was the Father-God on vacation when Jesus was crucified?
No.  He was the Mastermind behind the suffering that brought us back to communion with Him.

Is the Father-God on vacation when another virus attacks my home?
No.  He is the Mastermind behind that suffering.

Now I might not understand the suffering in the moment, but my job is to trust with a grateful heart that, like the crucifixion, He is weaving my sorrows into something endlessly good.

Endless Grace is present even in the suffering.