Everyone should be so lucky to have Bob and Sue for neighbors.
Recently, my family lived down the street from them for 3 years. At some point they upgraded (or perhaps downgraded–depending on your perspective) from being our neighbors to becoming our family.
That said, Bob isn’t one to miss an opportunity to tell (or play) a joke. So when he texted me one afternoon–while I was hunkered down in my basement office–to ask why a line of police cars were parked in front of my house, I responded with a joke.
And then he replied with 3 words that still send a chill down my spine–
I’m being serious.
I flew up the stairs and stopped cold at at my living room window. 5 police vehicles–huge honking Ford Explorers, no less–sat out front, lined up like an Easter Day parade. And because of how our subdivision was designed, there was no question that the cars were parked at our house.
Because the police force doesn’t visit en masse for afternoon tea, I knew one thing: I was going to jail.
I called my husband and told him so, and then I waited for the police to knock on my door.
Bob’s Text and My Faith
Here’s the thing.
Had you asked me 5 minutes prior to receiving Bob’s text if I had any reason to fear the police showing up at my house, I would have laughed and offered an emphatic, “Absolutely not!” Like you, I am a law abiding citizen. And yet. In the moment I saw the police brigade parked in front of my house, what I knew was suddenly challenged by what I saw.
And in a moment of weakness, my heart was inclined to believe what I saw.
And the same could be true of the past year.
I believe grief (of any kind or length) is a threat to faith because when we are collapsed in spirit, we are forced to choose between what we thought we knew or what we think we see.
Prior to tough events last year, here are 4 things I knew:
- God is unshakably committed to my good and His glory.
- I will never suffer outside the knowledge or care of my Creator.
- God is a Father Who loves to give good gifts to His children.
- I am not alone.
But what did I see when things got strangely and instantly hard?–If I’m being honest, God’s good didn’t look good to me, and I felt very alone.
In his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller wrote–
“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”
So what’s the answer?
When things go horribly wrong, how do we reconcile what we believe with what we see?
I remember clearly the night I stumbled on Hebrews 12 in my reading–
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …
How to endure: Just keep your eyes on Jesus.
Whether you and I experience a big grief or a tiny disappointment (and both have great capacity for harm) we must shift our gaze from the thing that is breaking our heart to the One Who initiated our faith and promises to perfect it. So that what we believe and what we see become the same thing.
And the irony? The invisible reality of God becomes more real than anything we will ever see with our eyes.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I’ll be back on Sunday with 7 hymns for long nights.
In pursuit of joy–
P.S. By the way, the police were parked in front of our house because they wanted a strategic place to park and “visit” other folks (not Bob and Sue) in our neighborhood.