The pet had been missing for a few days and while the mother clutched her child close to her breast, their hearts beating as one, the little girl lets it out, “God does loves us, doesn’t He, Mama?” (When you just want God to show up and answer your prayers by Ann Voskamp)
And I sat there holding my breath and gulped. What this young girl breathed from her innermost being from the place of her utmost pain, is what I believe we all question time to time. I noticed it was a question the young girl asked, not a statement she made. Oh, the goodness and innocence of the young heart. She did not state, “God does not love us Mama!” She did not place a judgment on God but rather revealed a vital component of our fragile heart and human condition. She wondered, am I lovable? Do I matter at all to God? Does He see me and my broken heart? I certainly have pondered this very sentiment. And, I have uttered this very question, many times, after Grace left us to be with her Lord and Savior. “God, do you love me? Because at this moment I do not feel loved at all.”
I read the next few words of the blog very slowly. Sure this sensitive, deep and discerning mother had just the right words to comfort her child’s broken yet hopeful heart. And maybe give me a glimpse or spark synapses of understanding to give vision and light into the fathoms of darkness I can’t seem to navigate or comprehend. I am glad for the happy ending of the pet’s return and the little girl’s experience of God’s love for her, her family and pet, but what about when the end can’t be deemed “happy” in human terms? What about when the answer to our deepest question, “Does God love me?” seems to be, “No”? “No” and your pet dies, “No” and you lose your job, your health, the relationship. “No” and you lose your spouse, parent, grandchild….or daughter. “No, and you lose your faith and trust in a God you cannot see or touch. What happens when there isn’t a bow at the end of your story but only weeping, darkness and a heart shattered on the floor?
This is when knowing the answer is different than understanding the answer. Of course we know the answer is always a loud and emphatic, “YES!” “Yes, God loves me!” Those of us who have tasted of His goodness and made to be partakers of His divine nature understand who He is. He, the creator of the Heavens and Earth and everything good in it, is Love. He doesn’t just love. He IS love. Understanding, not just knowing the answer is vital if I am to make it through the seasons of “No, you will not get what you are asking but Yes, I DO STILL LOVE YOU!”
Eric and I purposed in our hearts after Grace died not to ask why. But, ‘Why’ stayed at the forefront of my brain anyway. I kept ignoring it and stepping over it like a dirty penny in a parking lot. With resilience that dirty thought kept turning up so I kept looking the other way. When I contemplated asking “why?” to God, the only thought that kept resounding in my head was the memory of sitting down at the table trying to reason with my 14 year old upon hearing, “No, you can’t have that or do that”. I know firsthand what it is like to have your heart and motives challenged and questioned. I just refused go there with God. I understand from my time of being a parent that if someone or God Himself, sat at my dining room table, and tried to give me the answer of why, it would be like listening to someone speaking in a different language or listening to words that can only be heard at a certain decibel. And I would sit there, my head cocked to the side, trying to understand the foreign language but instead only howling at the unheard and misunderstood syllables that pierced my aching ears but did nothing for my aching heart.
No child likes to hear the words, “You will understand when you are older.” But, as adults, we know there is fundamental truth to those words. Sometimes the answers to our deepest questions cannot be contained in one tiny fragment of space and time, no matter how big it seems at the time. No matter how badly we want the answer…plead for it. Not surprisingly, it is the best of answers that unfold themselves, quietly and gently, mending our hearts as we walk with the ones we trust, the One in whom we trust, the One who loves us most.
Understanding the love God has for me has helped my navigation through the dark seasons of not feeling His love for me. Even when the answer is “No” I understand it is for my good and I choose trust. I do not walk away from the conversation like a rebellious teenager to go my own way, but rather sit at the table and commune, not asking why, but simply waiting and yielding my way to His way and His timing. Knowing His love is good. Understanding His love is better and has helped to conquer the very real but temporary feelings of my fragile heart.
Walking through this season, I have come to understand looking for answers to my deepest questions is like trying to find tiny pearl beads that have scattered from a very long but broken necklace- which at times resembles my broken life. The pieces have hit the ground, bounced and disappeared. And there I am, scurrying about trying to put it back together again, hoping nothing is lost. Searching and asking, crying or angry as I look underneath furniture and lift up rugs. Frantically scouring the dark and dusty corners as I try not to lose the tiny beads I have found and gathered. In those mired and tiresome moments I have forgotten there are not multiple answers to my multiple questions. And I certainly will not find them looking down or around. There is but one answer. And He is not as fragile as my beaded necklace nor broken life. Neither is He as complicated. He is simple. He is beautiful. Grace died and I did not get the answer I wanted and the feeling of God’s love for me shattered to jeweled bits as my heart was crushed with the weight of losing her. Regardless of the multitude of questions I could ask, I do not go to Him for the answers, I have come to understand through His love and grace, He is “The Answer”.