Today is one of those bullet-dodging days. You’ve had those, right? A day when you will learn something about work, or a relationship, or your health, or perhaps the health of someone you love more than yourself? I think of them as bullet-dodging days, because you can’t do anything but stand up against the wall and pray that the bullet smacks the brick beside your head, or grazes your arm, or at worst just buries itself in your leg, because in that moment when you stand there and imagine all of the terrible wounds you might suffer, the thought of limping the rest of your life doesn’t sound like such a bad deal at all.
You pray that bullet everywhere but your heart with which you love, or your lungs with which you breathe, or your gut, where it will sit for weeks or months or perhaps the rest of your life, setting you to wondering when the next bullet will come, and where it will strike.
I can’t decide, as I feel this rough brick beneath my palms, which is worse, the fear of what may come, or the helplessness of waiting for it. This is my continuing struggle with God, that he would let me love and hope and then put me in a place, sometimes, where I am powerless. There is some mystery here, I think, about trusting, but I can’t put my finger on it, not this finger that has traced my child’s name on her gravestone. It should be harder to trust God, I think, when he has broken you down.
The strangest part of it is that I trust him more, now, knowing what he’s capable of allowing. Surely that’s some kind of miracle, no? I think about Christ being the author and perfecter of faith, and I shiver as I stand at this wall, wondering what words he will write next. But beneath the flesh-shiver there is a heart-steadiness, because I know I don’t wait here alone. And this is a message of the crucifixion that we often miss, that God descended to die among us not only for the expiation of sins, but out of bondedness, in a communion of suffering, perhaps so that we would know that he knows.
He will not always or perhaps even often lift suffering, of this I am convinced, despite the good efforts of best-selling Christianesque shamans. But he will endure with us, suffering servant that he is. And oddly enough, this matters more than I ever would have imagined.
My God, my king, my friend, will you go into these dark places with me? Shall we go together? I will not be afraid. Quell my fear; steady my heart; leave not my side, you who breathed in death. I will not be afraid.