How to Sleep In the Middle of a Storm

It occurred to me this morning that there's another side of the "at leasts" among us. There's also the "at mosts." You know the sort: again, you're sharing grief, pain, sorrow, anger, or some other struggle through which you currently walk, and they're there waiting to interject a "But God!" or "Well, at least it's not worse!" They're the eternal optimists or, more likely, the ones who are uncomfortable simply letting someone experience pain, suffering, or the depths of what God wants to bring them into. 

Just as I was guilty this past weekend of casting judgement on a fellow family member at my church, I can be guilty of "But Goding" myself all the time. A friend confessed a few years ago that he was learning how to walk into the depths of what God was doing in his life, instead of just in the shallows. He'd learned to bounce, rebound, robotically respond with the greatness of God, without letting the person across from him, or even himself, feel, process, or experience the deepest parts of their pain.

If we truly believe God isn't wasteful, if we truly believe he is sovereign, then we have to learn to comfort others and ourselves without distilling complex experiences down to a platitude—even if the platitude is true. If our response is quick and automated it says more about us than it does about the pain of the other, or their faith in the God who holds them. It says we're unwilling to really wrestle with our brother or sister and instead just want to get the hard stuff over. It says we're unwilling to really listen to them and just want to get a word in edgewise. It says we think our wisdom is better than God's wisdom in allowing this season to unfold for them. It also betrays our lack of trust in God to hold them, even though there may be darker days ahead. 

When we offer up a mere platitude in the face of someone's suffering or confession of weakness, it says more about our lack of faith than it does about theirs. 

True faith acts on the truth of God's word and sometimes Jesus simply wept, sometimes he asked questions, drawing out the mourner or the one in need of healing, sometimes he just fed them, sometimes he fell asleep in the middle of the storm, sometimes he removed himself from the crowds. It is true that he was proclaiming the good news everywhere he went, but good news does not always come in the form of words. Sometimes it comes in the form of weeping with those who weep, the provision of food on the table, and the sight of one who can rest in stillness, without talking, even in the midst of the storm. 

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