I’m sitting on the recliner in the corner of our living room, typing with my Mac on my lap. It’s one of my more familiar places to be.
There are crutches right next to the recliner I’m sitting in. That’s becoming all too familiar. I had surgery to repair a torn tendon in my left foot just six months ago. Now I’m told there’s another partial tear in the same foot. I have an appointment scheduled with a surgeon, who will probably tell me I need another repair done. Until then I can’t put any weight on that foot.
It won’t be the same doctor who did the first surgery–not because I’ve lost any confidence in him, but because we’re in the middle of moving from Virginia to Ohio. Which brings up what’s terribly unfamiliar about where I’m sitting. The whole house here is packed up in boxes, ready for the movers to come take it away on Tuesday. About the only thing that’s normal about it is that most of the furniture is in roughly its usual position.
My 20 year-old son, Jonathan, and I are here to finish getting things ready for the move. He’s got a great attitude, which makes all the difference, considering he has to do most of the physical work. I’m very thankful for him.
So here I sit reflecting on the fact that I can’t walk (again), and I have to go through the pain and the life disruption of surgery (again). We’ll be moving into a new home in Ohio later this week, and if I’m any help with the process it will be because I have a wheelchair available to zip around in. We’ll be far from our usual network of friends.
It’s rough. It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. It’s physically painful. Even so, I’m sure that many people reading this are going through struggles and heartaches more challenging than mine today.
For me, and perhaps for men generally, there’s a temptation to hide from the pain by throwing myself into my work. This morning I decided to look it square in the eye; and it’s brought forth tears. I’m not very good at writing about it.
The Psalmists cried out, “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13:1-2, 89:46; also Psalm 35:17, 74:10, 80:4, 90:13, 94:3, 119:84). There is pain there, but there is hope and confidence as well. The question is not if God will come and rescue, but when.
The people of God have asked that question ever since. I am asking it today.
How then can we have confidence, even while life seems torn in two? Is there anything more to it than wishful thinking run wild? I think there is. There’s a basis of knowledge supporting our confidence and our hope. That knowledge is based in what we might (almost irreverently) call God’s track record. He comes through. He came through for us most significantly when he came to defeat death.
We know, too, that God takes a long view, and as Paul said, our “momentary light afflictions” (which for him were anything but that, from a human perspective) are as nothing compared to the glory to come. And we know that God’s purpose in our lives is far deeper and much better than simply securing our comfort. He is fashioning us into the likeness of his character. Character doesn’t come easy.
I must go, but I will say this before I do. This is how the problem of evil and suffering feels from the perspective of a Christian suffering: it is not the path I would have chosen to walk (or to hobble on), but it is the path God chose, and God is still good. He is very good. He is good in the future work I know he will do, and he is good today. This too is something I am not skilled in writing, but my heart delights in his goodness today.
There was a better writer than me who said “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” I agree deeply and joyfully. Maybe I should have just posted Psalm 34 here for you to read in its entirety. God is still good.