When God’s Hand Burns


“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.”

– Timothy Keller, Walking with God Through Suffering, p. 30 –

I watched the searing iron come down. The goat kid squirmed and begin to gasp, and yet the iron stayed.

Have you ever been burned? Has the iron stayed so long that you wondered what God was doing, why He was making you suffer?

Why Lord?

We always take our new goat kids to get their horn buds removed, when they are only days old. The process takes only seconds. Held by a firm, practiced hand, the kids are one by one laid across a lap. Then a hot iron, specially made for the purpose, is held to each horn bud for 10 seconds. The heat burns away the forming horns.

The soft hair on their heads singes and smokes. It stinks. They struggle and kick and cry, but no one lets them up.

To them, the pain is purposeless and cruel. All they wanted was a nice pile of straw and a warm bottle. Was that too much to ask?

But I had a purpose in their pain: I dreamed for them — when they were unable to dream for themselves — of a future with no horns. They, had they known what I was taking from them, might have complained. “Hey, those are mine! I need those. They look dashing, I’ll be popular with the lady goats, and I’ll be the king of the pasture.”

When I pulled out of the disbudder’s driveway, I thought about the whole painful process. A friend riding with me asked why their horns had to be removed. I started listing the benefits of hornless goats. They wouldn’t get their heads stuck in fences as easily. They wouldn’t be hurt in the occasional “status” fights that goats use to determine who is boss. They wouldn’t gore another goat. They couldn’t poke people with the sharp tips.

So I pondered this too. It was love, I realized. We loved them enough to give them pain, because there was a purpose beyond it. Even though the kids couldn’t see it, I brought pain into their lives for their ultimate good.

Recently, a friend finally got me to listen to a song she’d been telling me about for over a week. When I finally did, I couldn’t believe the beauty in it.

Singer Elliott Park writes about a young sapling whose trunk is doubled over when a dying Rebel soldier hangs his gun on it. Watered by pain and tinted by blood, this oak grows that way — bent over, ruined in the eyes of most. But…just listen to the song “The Soldier and the Oak.” There was a purpose beyond the pain. The reality became better than the dream. The suffering can transform you into something even lovelier.

In the recent film Cinderella, after she long endures the hatefulness of her stepmother and sisters, Ella finally stands before the Prince, who still doesn’t know her name. “Who are you?” he asks.

“Cinderella,” she replies, using the name of derision that others had used to mock her. But she said it with a smile — a smile that showed that not only had she survived the suffering, but she was stronger for it. Her pain wasn’t a shoved-away corner of her identity. She embraced it, along with the change it wrought in her. Not Ella anymore. No, the pain had made her lovelier. She was Cinderella.

Keller says,

“In the secular view, suffering is never seen as a meaningful part of life but only as an interruption.” (Ibid., 26)

I’ve definitely seen pain that way — an entirely unpleasant interruption to my otherwise-happy existence.

But that night driving back toward the farm, I caught a new vision of suffering. In a strange shifting of roles, I found out what it was to be on the “knowing” end of things, the one that knew it would all be okay and the pain had a point (John 9:3; Rev. 21:1-7).

Every other day, I’m on the “not knowing” end of things. But…the uncertain cries of baby goats taught me a lesson that night.

“I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, CEB)

Sinful and weak as I am, I know better than my goats. How much more does our Heavenly Father know better than us where a moment of pain might lead (Isa. 55:8-9)? To what heights might it allow us to soar?

Could it be…that after this long enmity, suffering might turn out to be a friend?

Or that when God’s hand burns, we can trust after all?

“Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.”

– Henry Ward Beecher –

A Library Table, a Geneva Bible, and a Mormon


We all have our own lives, our own families.

And, at least for me, it is easy to get caught up in personal things.

Keeping up with my part-time job, making shopping lists, dreaming up healthy menu plans, plowing through my reading list, doing chores around our small farm…

A small-time girl in a small-time town.

Not too long ago, a young friend of mine confided that she didn’t feel like she was having much of an impact on anyone. She attends a private high school, goes to church with her family, and enjoys looking after her two younger siblings. For her, life is full of routine — not much chance for lasting impact.

Maybe you’re there too? Wrapped in a round of everyday activities and occasional outings, wondering if there is something you’re missing. Wondering if you’re really making a difference on anyone or anything at all.

I understand.

There’s not really a secret to finding your “place of impact.” Nor is it necessarily a single place.

In the first place, my farm chores, and my friend’s church activities, and your “everyday” schedule are all places of impact.


Even in front of your sink drying the 105th plate, or in class trying to scrounge up the tu form of a Spanish verb. Even up to your elbows in suds giving your little brother a bath, or when you’re alone in your room reading the next book on your shelf. Even when you’re singing your favorite song to yourself, or when you’re sliding in next to your mom on the church pew.

Or, in my case, when I went to the library on Friday with little more ambition than getting an audio book and putting in a few hours on my job.

It was my interest in history that did it.

As I sat there answering emails and researching educational companies, a girl around fifteen years old and a woman I assumed was her mother sat down across the table from me. I continued to work, and the girl soon got up to find a book. She returned a few moments later with a thick black book. A Bible. A very, very big Bible.

Nosy girl that I am, I craned my neck at the gold letters stamped on the front. Ah. That was it. It was a Geneva Bible.

The people across from me were studying the cover with curiosity. The woman made a comment to the girl about not knowing what a Geneva Bible was. I think she thought it was some cult Bible.

And there I went. I launched into my 9th grade Western Civilization speech: “The Geneva Bible was the Bible the Pilgrims used when they came to America. It was the common Bible before the King James Version, which was printed in 1611, came into common use.” I smiled and continued the spiel, with a condensed version of the invention of the printing press, the Protestant Reformation, and Henry VIII’s split from the Catholic church.

Both of them now looked at me with their curiosity. “You are either a history major or you go to church,” the woman said. Her husband came up and joined in on the discussion.

And from there, we jumped into a lengthy conversation about theology — the woman and her husband were Mormons, the girl (a neighbor of theirs, not a daughter) attended a Church of Christ. They had never heard of the Trinity in their lives. They didn’t believe Jesus is God in the flesh.

I spent the next hour or so outlining the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity, frantically praying and trying to dredge up all the verses I could think of that support my belief in the Trinity.

I left the library a while later, with two sets of addresses and phone numbers (the girl’s and the woman’s), having promised to send them copies of my blog posts, and feeling a good deal of awe at the sovereignty of God.

You see, I don’t usually do this. I don’t usually get into theological discussions over library tables.

I’ve often thought, “Oh, I don’t have an impact with that sort of thing. Conversations about Christianity don’t seem to come to me as naturally as others.”

But then God put a Mormon lady and a searching girl in my path.

Here’s the thing:

I didn’t know all the right verses. The things I had studied gave me a place to start, but I didn’t have the perfect speech. I had to poke around a little and figure out exactly “what kind” of Mormons they were. I was unsure.

But it was wonderful.

Because, you see, God led me right into the appointment He had planned for me. And the most beautiful thing was this: sitting behind that library table, my soul was crying out to God for wisdom, for answers, for the right words to help these people understand the truths that are so beloved to me.

Making an impact right then was not something I could do on my own. But it was something that God could do through me.

What things do you have to do that feel pointless, like you aren’t changing anything for the better? Believe me: nothing you do is without impact.

Other people are watching — they see our smiles that we forget about, our diligence when we’re “just doing what’s right.” People see. And God often uses those small-time things to change lives.

Like a conversation that started with a small-town library table and a thick Geneva Bible.


Interruptions or Adventures?


“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton―

Recently, I stumbled across a Youtube video of well-known Christian comedian Mark Lowry. I haven’t heard much of his comedy before. In fact, I don’t think I even finished the video clip.

 The only reason I mention him now is that the idea for this post came from him. On this video, he began talking about the things that we perceive as important, compared to God’s perspective. As we look at this idea together today, I just wanted you to know where I got the foundational theme for today’s post, as well as several of the Scriptural examples. While I’m not much of a Mark Lowry fan, I think there is quite a bit of truth in this particular observation.

Interruptions. Yuck.

They’re everywhere, aren’t they?

Those people that pull out their cars in front of you like they’re racing to a fire, and then slow down to about 15 miles per hour (in a no-passing zone, generally). The impossibly-long lines at Walmart on Saturdays. The phone ringing when you were about to get to that one thing you’ve been wanting to do all day. The person who just won’t stop talking to you when you really need to be somewhere else.

Yeah, those. Interruptions.

Funny thing is, Jesus seemed to deal with interruptions differently than we do.

In fact, as Mr. Lowry pointed out, it seems like more interruptions made it into the Bible than planned events did (or at least humanly-planned ones)!

Jesus sails across the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, needing a break.

Interruption. In the form of over 5,000 people (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus heads for the house of Jairus the synagogue ruler–and a woman crawls out to brush her fingers against the hem of his robe (Mark 5:21). Interruption. Incidentally, the gospel writer records as much about the newly-healed woman’s interruption as he writes about the miracle of Jairus’ resurrected daughter.

It’s almost as if God knows how preoccupied we get and arranged His book with subtle reminders that we don’t have it all figured out.

I’ve had plenty of interruptions in my life. How about you?

I’ll get things all squared away and nicely organized…and then life stampedes through and tramples my best-laid plans. But…funny thing…in the end, I’m usually glad. I don’t always get to see the whole picture, but every once in a while, God lets me see a peek of what He’s been up to in the things that I call roadblocks, interruptions, or inconveniences.

I want to look at interruptions differently. Instead of bewailing the changed plans, I want to see something else: people in need of a surprising, spontaneous dose of love.

I want to be like Jesus.

He was teaching in a house when suddenly the thatch was snatched back and the plaster crumbled, and a cripple dropped down from the sky. Lowered by four audacious friends. Interruptors of Jesus’ sermon (Mark 2:1-12).

Interestingly — as the comedian’s video pointed out — the Bible doesn’t even bother telling us what Jesus was preaching about. Instead, we get an up-close view of the interruption.

I think God likes interruptions, actually. I think He likes to shake up our lives a little — not in a petty or vindictive way at all, but in a fatherly, teaching-moment sort of way.

Interruptions are moments that God reaches down and reminds us that we aren’t in control after all — He is.

Interruptions are God’s gentle — or sometimes not-so-gentle — way of realigning our priorities with His.

Take the night that the outcast woman slipped into Simon the Pharisee’s feast. She started crying all over Jesus’ feet, dumping a fortune’s worth of perfume on them, and mopping up the pungent puddle with her unloosed hair. (Luke 7:36-50). Talk about an interruption!

Simon was horrified — this sinful woman was in his house! And she had the audacity to sob at his table, badger his dinner guest, and smell up the whole room with her fragrant gift. Interruption indeed!

But Jesus? He commended her, looked on her with love. She was no interruption to Him. She was no accident. She was a Divine appointment.

For Jesus, interruptions were no surprise. He’s God, after all. These events — seemingly random interruptions — were on His day planner all along.

So how do we — since we can’t see into the future (much less control it!) — act like Jesus when it comes to these moments that take our lives by storm?

Since we’re not in control of those “interruption” moments, but we know that God is…why not see them differently?

Instead of grumbling and getting bent out of shape when things don’t follow my day planner, I can beg for the grace (and the desire!) to stop and breathe, to really, truly SEE people and opportunities.

So…next surprise schedule change, next out-of-the-blue flat tire, next interminable line at the grocery store, I pray that my attitude will be less me-centered and more Christ-centered.

Forget my boring little plans.

Tomorrow is packed with adventures planned out by my all-wise Father.

So what do you choose, by God’s grace? Inconvenience or adventure?

Whitewash and Passover Lambs


“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ “

– John 18:28-29 –

I was cooking breakfast last week, listening to the book of John on audio CD, when this passage above started playing.

And it struck me.

The Sanhedrin, after conducting an illegal trial all through the night, appear at Pilate’s doorstep with Jesus in hand.

But they won’t go in.

“…lest they should be defiled…”

After all, that would be breaking the Law. Far be it from them to do that.

Their audacity–to flaunt themselves as religious examples to the rest of Israel, to drag God’s own Son to the judgment court of Rome at dawn–shocked me in a way it never had before.

Then I had to ask it (a good question to asked whenever we are shocked and angered at the sin of someone else):

Am I guilty of the same thing?

Like the Sanhedrin, do I have my own set of moral standards that are only used to make myself look good, better than others? Do I break God’s law all night and then have the guts to say in the light of dawn, “Oh, no, I could never do that. That would displease God.”

That reflection made me pause a little while, but then I ventured on to the next phrase.

“…that they might eat the Passover.”

Let that sink in a moment.

They didn’t want to go into a Gentile’s residence so they would be clean, so they could partake of the Passover.

Do you see?

In Exodus 12, God instructed Moses to institute the Passover. It was the last night of the Israelites’ 400-year stay in Egypt, and the hard-hearted Pharaoh had gone back on his word over and over, still refusing to release the Israelite slaves.

So God told His people to take lambs (one for each household), eat the meat, and paint the blood on the doorposts of their houses. God was sending judgment on Egypt, and only the homes covered by the blood would be spared.

That night, all of Egypt’s firstborns died, while Israel exited their land of exile with rejoicing.

Passover, for the Jewish people, is a time of remembrance, even today. In the day of the Sanhedrin, the Jews celebrated it regularly, journeying to Jerusalem from afar to corporately celebrate God’s salvation.

So…the angry Sanhedrin members stop at Pilate’s steps that morning, unwilling to make themselves ceremonially unclean just before this sacred festival. They want to eat the Passover lamb.

But they don’t realize something.

In their fascination with cleanliness, in their preoccupation with the minutiae of the Law (or at the least the parts of it that they liked), in their zeal for eradicating Israel of this rabbi who eats with thieves and prostitutes–they don’t realize the most important fact of all.

The Passover lamb was about to die.

And He was standing right in front of them, clothes tattered by now, face swelling from where they had struck Him (Matthew 26:67).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. – Matthew 23:27

Jesus had earlier spoken these words about this group of religious leaders–perhaps many of the same men that had just spent the night striking him and twisting his words into some semblance of guilt. And Jesus was right.

They had the outside looking pretty good: Passover lamb purchased. Check. Bitter herbs growing in the garden. Check. Stayed ceremonially clean all day. Check.

But it was all whitewash, wasn’t it? Just a way to gloss over the fact that inside they were full of stench and rottenness. And so they stood on Pilate’s steps shouting for Jesus to be condemned–not realizing that they were offering up the Last Passover Lamb.

They didn’t know that, with all their zeal for the Law, they were about to crucify the Lawgiver Himself.

They didn’t know that, with all their ceremonies and decorum, they were executing the very God they claimed to serve.

As I reflect on this startling moment, I feel deep in my bones that I am like those men of the Sanhedrin.

Prone to dressing up the outside while neglecting my inner life. Prone to deadly myopia, not seeing the God that surrounds my every moment. Prone to conjuring my own version of God’s law–a version that I can keep and apply to other people.

But, you know…as profitable and convicting as those reflections are, I want to leave you with this idea. Please, let it sink in and flood you with joy:

Jesus was the Last Passover Lamb, the truest one that had ever been killed, the last sacrifice that would ever need to be slaughtered.

And when He was hung between heaven and earth, His joyful obedience in going to the cross was like a giant paintbrush across the dark heavens.

In strokes of dark blood, the skies were, in essence, stained with this message:

Covered by the blood.

The souls of all His chosen ones were stamped with this eternally-effective bloodstain (John 17:1-3). Protected. Covered. Sealed everlastingly.

It was an unspoken message to Almighty God, His Father.

It is finished, Father. Pass over these little ones.

So in a paradox of metaphors, Jesus was both the Passover Lamb and the Condemned First-born of Egypt. His blood was the seal that made God’s wrath pass over–and He himself was the Wrath-bearer, the firstborn son that died in God’s judgment of rebellion.

See, we’re the white-washed, and we’re the blemished lambs, and we’re the condemned children.

But then the everlasting God becomes the everlasting God-Man.

And strung up like a bandit, bleeding from the cruelty of His own creation, He laughs death square in the face and marches to the grave with His head lifted high.

Dying mangled, torn, and absolutely victorious, because the children were ransomed from wrath. The lambs were redeemed from slaughter. The white-washed tombs can now be white through and through.

The glory of cross outshines our failings, our miserable sinning, our dedicated rebellion.

Without the Last Lamb, all our attempts to be clean for Passover are nothing.

Without His blood on our doorposts, the wrath of a holy God will not spare us.

But with it…

With it, we have everything.

We can sit down to a true Passover feast, because God’s judgment fell on one Man instead of on us. The blood has covered the sin that whitewash could not hide.

The Firstborn has died that the others might be heirs together with Him. And, just after that Passover, he did something that no other Passover sacrifice had ever done:

By His own power, he left death in the dust and came back to life.

That is what I learned from a mob of angry religious leaders–that my whitewash doesn’t work.

That the Passover Lamb has come and conquered.

And the feast of that celebration is only just beginning, ignited by one holy, joyful Sacrifice.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.”

– Isaiah 53:10-11 –

* All Bible verses taken from the New King James Version

When God Doesn’t Show Up


“Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow.”
– Charles Spurgeon –

She didn’t have John 11 in her Bible.

And she didn’t understand.

Maybe, as the quiet, cold countryside air drifted through the house, she leaned against the wall and held her breath, waiting for her sick brother to inhale one more time.

A slow breath just beyond the thin wall.

She exhales, waiting for the next sound of air in fragile lungs.

It doesn’t come.

Her throat tightens. Hands go still where they’ve been digging a thin place in the hem of her skirt. Oh God, let him breathe.

It still doesn’t come.

A thin, reedy wail bubbles up from her chest, rising into deep sobs.

It didn’t come.

And neither had Jesus.

Other cries begin–her sister’s weary, husky choking, the softer wails of watching friends, a baby stirring on her cousin’s hip.

She closes her eyes and tastes the hot salt wetting her lips. “Why didn’t you come?” she whispers in the dark. “You could have stopped this.”

Have you seen a night that dark?

A death that tore out your heart. A friendship that melted away in the forge instead of being tempered by the flames. A dream that withered again and again.

We all ask this question, don’t we? “Why weren’t You there, Lord, when that happened? Where were You when I needed you?”

There’s the theological voice in our heads, telling us that God is omnipresent, that Jesus promised to never leave us, that He sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and be our Comforter.

But…honestly? You can’t always feel truth. That theological voice can tell me all it wants, but there’s no doubt that sometimes we cry and it seems like there is no reply. No comfort. No easing of the pain. Just silence.

I think that’s how Mary felt.

She sat, perhaps, in the dark and wept for her lost brother Lazarus, and wondered why, why on earth, did Jesus fail them.

He could have stopped this. He’d done it before–healed so many. Healed those that didn’t even follow Him, healed beggars on roadsides, healed servants of Gentiles long-distance.

But the man he loved, whose sisters he loved? He didn’t show up for him.

Don’t you know that Mary cried in the dark and couldn’t wrap her mind around the lostness. It was bad enough that her brother was dead.

But the ache of Jesus failing them…that must have been a thousand times worse.

She’d sat at his feet (Luke 10:39). She thrown her soul into following Him. She’d tossed everything aside as unimportant, secondary to knowing Him.

And yet He hadn’t come.

So Mary buried her brother, perhaps helping her sister Martha wrap him in spice-soaked cloths. So Mary cried until her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen, until her heart felt drained of tears, and then she kept crying.

It was another four days, four days after the tombstone was shoved across the cave’s mouth, when Jesus finally showed up.

Late. Too late to heal. Too late, even, for the funeral. Just too late.

The Bible records Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ illness this way:

” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:5-6, NKJV).

Wait…what? This seems like a bad joke.

He hears about Lazarus…and stays away?

So, when he comes four days after the funeral (John 11:17), I wonder if Mary had stopped looking for Him? The passage doesn’t say. It only records,

“Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house” (John 11:20). 

Did Mary hear? Why did she stay at the house? Perhaps she she was too swallowed by her grief. Maybe she didn’t know Jesus had arrived. Or maybe she had given up on Jesus, because He hadn’t been there when she needed Him most.

But Martha–strong, capable, warm–went running in her tears and met Jesus as He approached:

“Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

But then, as Matthew Henry suggests in his commentary on the passage, she seems to regret her hasty, grieved words. Thought probably still asking “why” inside, she corrects herself:

“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:22).

This is a grief-stricken, somewhat-shaken faith. “Lord, I don’t understand,” she seems to be saying. “I still believe in you. I still know you have power. But I don’t understand.”

Under Jesus’ gentle questioning, she affirms her conviction that He is the Messiah, even the Son of God.

Then he sends for Mary.

Remember, Mary hadn’t read John 11. She didn’t know what would happen. We who have the whole Bible, who have grown up with the narratives, become numb to it.

But this wasn’t a flannel graph, two-dimensional story for Mary. This was real.

Her brother was dead. Her Savior had abandoned her.

Then He called for her and she hurries to meet him.

“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).

The same words as her sister–this same theme that resounds in our own hearts when God doesn’t show up in our pain.

“If you had been here, God…If only You had been here.”

And what does Jesus do? He had given Martha the theological answers. For Mary?

For Mary, He cries.

With Mary, He cries. Yes, God in flesh sees her tears, the tears of her sister, and He openly weeps (John 11:35).

What comes next?

A glorious rising. A heart-stopping, mind-blowing resurrection right on the fringes of Jerusalem. The world was shaken up that day.

Because Lazarus rose and walked out of that tomb!

But if we walk away from Mary’s story with the idea that Jesus will immediately come along and undo all our griefs, set it all right, make it not hurt anymore–then we’ve not learned our lesson.

You see, Mary didn’t know what Jesus was going to do. 

But, behind Mary’s grieving, Martha’s questioning, Lazarus’ dying–behind all this was a much larger Story at work:

The Story of God glorifying His Son in the world (John 17).

In fact, in the very next chapter, we see the results of Lazarus rising:

“Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus” (John 12:9-11).

The Bible never tells the end of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha’s story.

But that passage–rather than scaring me, or making me worry about Lazarus’ safety–reassures me.

See what God did?

The whole mess of grief and then wonder, death and then life–all of it was a master-design to point the world to Jesus. Lazarus was such a testimony to His God that the Jews wanted him dead just to get people to stop believing!

God doesn’t always ride in and fix our problems. He doesn’t always come and heal our loved ones, raise our dead dreams, or mend our broken relationships. (One day, yes, He will! He will make all things new!)

But Mary’s story teaches me to hope.

Because whatever God is doing in the pain–however silent He seems to be–I know two things.

I know He knows my sorrows and is moved by my pain.

And I know that He is up to something glorious.

Grief is hard.

Pain hurts terribly.

Prayers don’t always feel like they’re going through.

But whether my Lazarus rises or not, I know that “God’s absence”–when He decides not to intervene in my hurt–is part of plan that makes God look amazing.

When He doesn’t show up, I will cling to the knowledge of His love and presence. He won’t always tell me why I have to hurt. He doesn’t owe me an explanation.

But I will believe.

And then I will watch His beauty be put on display.

 “And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone

All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God.”

– Andrew Peterson, “The Silence of God”  –

* All Scripture verses come from the New King James Version