Tuesday, April 19, 2011
God "does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow" - Lamentations 3:33.
I've been reading Ann Vosskamp again this morning. Dangerous stuff! In her book "One Thousand Gifts," she's got a tight grip on the Gospel and she's refusing to let go. It's impressive, an amazing display of the power of the Good News and a decent grip (I wonder if she plays tennis).
Here's a statement she made that confuses me: "All is grace... All is grace only because all can transfigure."
In the chapter I'm reading she's dealing with what she calls "hard thanks." Thanking God for suffering as well as for blessings. She realizes that she's lived for a long time as an amputee, hacking her "life into grace moments and curse moments."
But now she's finding that the crux of the Gospel is that "all those living in the shadow of death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun." God uses suffering to bring life. Resurrection.
She's got me thinking (Who could have guessed that?). Melissa should have never put me on to her. This woman thinks dangerous thoughts.
But if God truly is in control of everything, even the greatest suffering must be a grace of some sort. In a world rocked by Japan's most recent Tsunami, these words can be offensive. But they're true. They're true because God is big enough to use horrific tragedy to do his work, his work of making all things new.
He uses suffering in my life. With Vosskamp I can say that like a caring surgeon, God cuts into my ungrateful heart to make me whole. He knows that nothing but suffering will produce Godliness in my life. Nothing but pain.
I'm reminded of Romans again where it speaks of "all of creation groaning up to the present time." Unless we groan, unless we suffer, we don't recognize the "present time." We don't recognize the audacious hope of Jesus' Kingdom reign. We don't recognize that all we've ever hoped for has arrived and is arriving.
For as humans we are forever ungrateful. We refuse to take the bad with the good. We medicate, escape and simply hike up our skirts and run full-tilt from pain.
"Run Away, Run Away!" - Monty Python.
But if we were to recognize and ponder that even the most horrific pain and evil is in God's control, and that he has the power to resurrect and transform, perhaps we can begin to be grateful in all circumstances. With Paul we can learn what it means to be content.
I want to learn, but I'm not willing to go through much pain. With my daughter Teya, I don't handle emotional pain so good. In fact bad feelings or emotions are never good in my book. Being an individual who struggles with melancholy, or to state it bluntly often thinks "life is shit and then we die," I want to run from any sort of depression.
But perhaps running is exactly the opposite of how I'll find peace. Perhaps resignation is the opposite as well. Perhaps I am to groan. To groan for transformation. To groan for resurrection. To groan for God. Perhaps.
It's fitting this week.
And speaking of recognizing the present time, this is my 100th entry!!! Where's my blue ribbon?