Friday, March 22, 2013

Ultimate Things

A couple days ago, an FB friend had a public purging of all his anger toward a cousin who had just passed away – a cousin who had molested him as a child.  In the string of comments that followed, many other friends remarked that they’d had similar experiences, which saddened me even if it didn’t surprise me terribly.  What did surprise me is how many of those victims said this was the first time they had “said this out loud.”

There is such evil in this world.  As I grow older, I become more and more aware of how much evil there is in this world.  Such pain.  Such brokenness.  I used to look at certain people and believe they were “normal”, that they had good lives with no serious problems (I have no doubt people looked at me and thought that).  I don’t believe that anymore.  Nobody is “normal”.  We’re ALL messed up.  We’re ALL victims of tremendous wrongs done to us and wrongs we’ve done to others and ourselves.  (If you don’t think you are, I hate to say this, but just wait . . . )
When you believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God, as I do, this begs the question of how God allows such pain.  It's the ultimate question – the one every person has to deal with at some point.  I can’t answer it for you, but I can tell you how I’ve answered it for myself.  The very fact that every person on earth goes through significant pain and betrayal, I think, means that the pain and betrayal have an important purpose in our lives.  The fact that God allows our happiness here on earth to be placed in such serious jeopardy – and allows that for every person – says to me that our happiness on earth is not his highest priority.  Some people use that very fact as a reason to reject God, because they can conceive of nothing more important than happiness; I have become convinced that God has something much better in mind for us than the weak image of “happiness” that we idealize and idolize.  Happiness is a good thing; but he has in mind an Ultimate Thing -- something we can't even conceive of until we've experienced it.
My heart just ached for these people.  I mean, I’ve been wronged and mistreated  (very badly so, in fact), but I still can’t imagine dealing with being molested as a child.  But then, I bet some of them would shudder at what I’ve been through.  What’s the old story? . . . that if everyone’s problems were piled up in the center of town and we were required to pick from the pile, we would always choose our own to have back.   I think that’s very true.
And I think that shows, as I heard a preacher say once, that God has us each on our own personal obstacle course for life.  He knows what we each need . . . he knows where we each need to be pushed, challenged, prodded . . . he knows what will break us and what will build us . . . he gives us each exactly what we need to reach that Ultimate Thing.
Our part is to let that pain drive us toward the only One who can give us the Ultimate Thing, and not away from Him.  How to do that?  All I can say is this:  a primary ingredient is to come out of hiding.  Honesty.  Openness.  Truth.  Especially with God.  Scream – rant – rage -- shake your fists at him.  Over and over if you need to.  He’s a big boy; he can take it.  And then open your heart to listen.
A defining characteristic of a child of God:  he walks in the light.  There’s a reason Satan is called the Prince of Darkness.

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