God says “No.”
Our feverish and fervent prayers go seemingly unanswered.
We get left with the whys: “Why, God?” “Why me?” “Why not yes?”
It’s painful. And this reality of God’s character has a name, it’s called paradox. His sovereign paradox is mighty and yet still a profoundly hard pill to swallow.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
But Jesus was God’s BELOVED son and yet God was pleased to see His Son’s bloodied, broken body on the Cross!
Paradox as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary is: “a statement or situation that may be true but seems impossible or difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.” It seems impossible. It’s difficult to understand. Sometimes, our circumstances don’t allow us to glimpse the grand in the midst of chaos. That’s why we must look beyond the clouds of today to the eternal truth of the cross.
I recall a personal moment when the paradox of eternal peace (intermingled with my present pain) gave me a more intimate glimpse into the love of a Creator and took me beyond the realities of current circumstances. It was in 2015, shortly after the loss of our daughter that I recorded this:
“I was telling someone today that it felt like time was suspended (in our favor) for our daughter’s four days on Earth. The days felt long (and not just because we weren’t sleeping). They weren’t long days in a bad, toiling sort of way; but in an extraordinary, kairos sort of way. Chronology of the ticking clock felt almost meaningless. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like the beauty and magic you can see in slo-mo or time-lapse video. Perhaps, like scaling between macro and micro-moments almost simultaneously. (Probably the way God moves and sees).
I felt a shift in my heart as I was talking about her life to that woman today. I no longer want to say “She lived JUST four days” but instead, “Her life on Earth SPANNED four days.”
We get closer to a loving God, even though we don’t fully understand Him, when we allow our hearts to be a residence for the paradox of His love, and we take refuge that His “no” in the context of our earthen-now, will be matched with infinite ripples of a love that claims “Yes, you are Mine” for the unfolding of eternity. We cannot yet see the full span of our existence. Eternity is the residence of our Hope.
Yes, I had prayed passionately that God would heal my daughter, thousands others did too. The searing reality of a “no” answer was excruciating. And sure, I was feeling that pain with much intensity. But my hope was not anchored in my present. It was anchored to the other side of God’s grand paradox
“Can you see that when your life doesn’t make sense, it’s the Cross that gives it meaning and clarity? In your confusion, will you look at the Cross and see love for the sinners so big that God would be pleased to sacrifice even his own Son so that we, who deserve to die, might live? A love so big that we, who have earned no place in his presence, might boldly enter and make ourselves at home? Sinners purified, dead people made alive is the paradoxical beauty of the Cross- our only hope for healing in this hurting, confusing world.” – from the One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.
Surrendering our hearts to Jesus within us, means we must claim carrying our own piece of the paradox. Claiming the paradox holds the key to taking us from victims to victors. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. When we swallow this truth, yes, we taste the grittiness along with the grace.
Hope is Hard. And trusting God doesn’t always diminish the pain. But it does make it more bearable, sometimes even beautiful.