Sunday, December 5, 2010

For the love of winter

It is December here, and the skies are dressed in various shades of gray. The sun is hiding its features and the bald trees quiver under the chilly caress of the wind. The temperature is officially above zero, but to the wavering bodies outside it feels like a slide on the negative scale. Ah, the undesired joys of living so far away from the Equator...

Sometimes December explodes unashamed into the very summer of our existence.
We coast along a sun-drenched road and life smiles upon us at every turn. We ride on the heights of success, whatever that means, when suddenly... the train stops. The doctor calls. The door slams shut. The music is silent. Summer is over... forever it seems.

It may be the hard and painful struggle of a chronic illness. The end of a marriage in which you were Cinderella happily for ever after. The downward spiral of a decades-long career. In one moment, the fortress we have built for decades collapses and we die... at least the dream part of us is slowly submerged by the floods of despair.

We have all been, or will be, in that place of desolation and wilderness. We have tasted the agony of fear and have slumbered bewildered under the heaviness of "why". We search our hearts to find the root of our unexplained misfortune, to carve a path out of the mystery. We agonize under the silence of heaven and torture our souls in the labyrinth of possibilities, of explanations.

David, the man after God's own heart, was familiar with suffering. As I read the Scriptures, I see a man who was surrounded by enemies on every side and who experienced deep loss, including that of his sons. The psalms are littered with prayers for deliverance and divine intervention. At the same time, I see a man who grows in his resolve to trust God as his Lord rescues and prospers him through means unexplainable to our scientific minds. "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles... Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

There are things that happen in our lives which will remain question marks on this side of heaven. At the same time, He gives us His peace which refuses to be shaken "even though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea". Sometimes the vessel of our inner being needs to be shattered so the sweet overtures of His love can burst with healing in our lives. The end of all things is that God is good - all the time!

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