As soon as Bill got home from work, he asked, “Did you hear about the school shooting in Texas?”. I was speechless as I listened to the latest news. Words cannot describe the magnitude of evil required to go out and murder young children. But then I remembered Pastor Paul saying in his sermon how wood was in such short supply in the Roman Empire because it was all being used up for crucifixions. Different time period, different victims, but the same evil. How do you process evil like this?
That same day, I received an email from GCC regarding a dear member of the church who “is in the ICU following a heart attack. Through further testing, it has also been determined that the cancer treatment she was receiving has been unsuccessful and will begin receiving comfort care.” How does a family process that type of shock?
It was quite a day. My dear cousin Joyce had earlier been on the phone that morning. The doctors still have no clue as to why she is still alive after having had pancreatic cancer for five years. Joyce now is at the point whereas it is taking her longer and longer to recover from her maintenance chemo treatments. It used to be that she would have chemo and then about five days later she would feel much more like her usual self. She is on the regimen of chemo every three weeks and this last time she still wasn’t feeling well three weeks after the treatment. The clock is running on overtime. How does she process this waiting game she has been living with for years?
“To process” means “to proceed to move forward”. To put one foot in front of the other. To climb out of the pit. For a believer it means surrendering by leaning fully on the truth and the promise of Ps. 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
Notice all the action statements regarding God in that verse: “He lifted me; He set my feet on solid ground; He steadied me.” That is God’s desire, to be invited fully into a circumstance and to be allowed to move, no matter how dark the night and regardless of the magnitude of the suffering. God intensely wants to advance us forward in a healthy way. God wants us to know there will be a sunrise.
I’m sorry, but there is no magic man-appointed clock which controls these actions of God. Remember the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who had died? Jesus was geographically close to Lazarus’ home when word came of Lazarus being in dire straits. Yet Jesus waited. Jesus waited 3 days, until Lazarus was dead and buried, before Jesus came to town. Lazarus’ sisters were extremely upset at the Savior’s slow response. Yet Jesus’ tardiness was not because of lack of love for Lazarus, or because Jesus had better things to do. Jesus’ schedule with Lazarus was because that was exactly the God-appointed time for Jesus to show up – no earlier and no later. It was the best time, regardless of the pain felt by Mary and Martha.
For all of you who are in pain, I don’t know what is the “best time” for you right now for God to show up in your life with whatever you are going through. But I do know that, “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” His promise is true and every tear you have shed has been felt by God Himself, whether it is in the household of the GCC family, in the homes of those living in Texas, in the living room of my cousin Joyce, or in the hearts and minds of those who are wandering around in a whirlwind of pain.
God always shows up at the right time. Just make sure that the door is unlocked. Have you kept Jesus on the outside because your inner pain is too messy? Invite Him in. Psalm 34: 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He wants to sit with you and He loves helping people out of the pit.