I recently met a lovely woman, V, in a centering prayer group. The group meets during my workday, but I attend occasionally when I can slip out for a while. While the group attendance fluctuates, we stay connected through the internet. I, a newcomer, have been welcomed with love, open arms and many emails.
During the recent flooding here in south Louisiana, several group members’ homes were flooded; V’s was one of them. I’d only met her a few times, but my heart went out to her, as to so many. Flood recovery is a wet, stinky, moldy, yucky mess and there are no words that accurately describe it. Part of the process of post flood repair is replacing soaked sheetrock. The ruined parts are cut out, exposing the studs and timbers beneath. An email went out with a request from V to send scripture verses that would be written on the exposed beams before covering them again.
I thought of the V’ahavta:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~Deut. 6: 4 – 9
Favorite verses were shared, then an invitation – Monday, we’ll gather at her home to help write these verses on the exposed beams.
Monday arrived, and a small group of us had gathered. We waited, but V never appeared. One member tried calling, but got her voice mail. Well, phones and voice mail had been very messed up since the flooding, and we just thought that something had come up or AT&T had freaked out. Plan for another day.
Later that afternoon, I heard a news story on the radio that a car had crashed through the wall and into a local post office.
My phone began buzzing with emails. V wasn’t at her house because she had been at the post office when the car crashed. She had been pinned between the car and a desk, both of her legs broken. We stormed the gates of heaven with prayer, waited for news of her surgeries – and continue to pray.
Then, in the middle of this, I read a blog post from Beauty Beyond Bones; she is a young woman with a history of an eating disorder. Prayer and Divine help got her beyond the bleakness of her deadly illness and into recovery. In her post, she described how her identity had been stolen recently, and spoke of Ephesians 6 – about putting on the full armor of God. Sometimes you need it!
What is it with these obstacles that fall into the way when one is seeking to fulfill Divine Purpose? Is it “Satan trying to mess things up?” Or is it something within one’s self, deeply hidden in the unconscious mind that fears and hinders forward movement? I have heard both explanations – and all in between.
If I look at the first option, then “it’s not my fault.” It is something completely beyond my control, and I am a helpless, powerless victim.
If I consider the second, “it’s ALL my fault, but I don’t want this!” Yet on some deep unconscious level I must invite failure. I am responsible for my own downfall. Gee, I have a lot of power, don’t I? (haha)
Neither extreme makes much sense to me. It is probably the oldest question ever asked: Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, we don’t know. Sometimes, sh*t just happens.
In spite of everything, God’s world is still a beautiful place.
Perhaps instead of trying to figure it out and control the outcome, we can just roll with the punches. When you think about it, no matter what you believe, your response can be the same: Get up, show up, keep going. Don’t stop. Put on the full armor of God, and lean on the Spirit which is greater than us and keep going. You – alone – will sooner or later run out of steam, but if you tap into God’s love and power, you have an infinite source. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to risk it alone.
Somehow, some way, it will work out – and usually in a way that surprises us. It may not be the way we would have chosen, but sometimes we have an outcome that is more amazing than we ever could have imagined.
Why do bad things happen to good people? I know I won’t get the answer anytime soon, and I’m not even looking for it anymore because I don’t think we can understand the answer (at least not in this lifetime). We cannot understand with our minds, but with our hearts and our souls. Such things are of faith, and not of reason. I am inspired and deeply moved by faith such as V’s.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~ 1 Corinthians 13: 11 – 13
Faith. Hope. Love. This is what the armor of God is forged of. Put it on, and – like V, and Beauty Beyond Bones – keep going.