John’s pain is also ours

I value nearly all of the comments I receive from readers of these humble ramblings. Occasionally I get a mean-spirited post that promptly finds it’s way into the cyber trash can for all of eternity. We have one basic rule at “Bad Christian” World Headquarters.

Verily, verily, all words that proceedeth out of thy posts and thy comments shall be civil…thus saith the one who pays the server bills.

King James style rules just sound more authoritative. Some comments that reach this site touch me deeply and that happened today. A reader named John left these comments after reading yesterday’s post about the Time Person of the Year nominations followed by my nominations for people of the year. Here are some of John’s comments.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about these amazing men and women of God.

I’ve just stepped through some deep valleys and there were times when i had difficulties in believing that God is good. When a super-hard blow came yesterday, i lost all feeling and was totally nonchalant about life.

I’ve lost nights of sleep and have not been eating due to this distressing season – but your post helped to remind me that there is still a loving God – *even if* He does seem so distant and far and even if my questions of “What’s going on, where will this lead to” are not answered.

My heart ached for John. I have been there, done that, didn’t have the energy to get the t-shirt. I have no idea what trials he is going through. But I am asking our little band o’ bad Christians to pray for him. I remembered an earlier post that I had written about a song I love by Andrew Peterson. Please forgive me for the re-run of that blog. I hope John returns today to read this and I hope he knows that the body of Christ cares about him. I also pray there is something in this article that will encourage him.

One year ago  Andrew Peterson was not even on my playlist radar. Youngest son Brett suggested I should check out Peterson after he had performed at a chapel service at Baylor University. Andrew Peterson quickly moved to my top-rated playlist. The iPod shuffle today landed on a haunting and beautiful song called “After the Last Tear Falls”. Andrew Peterson has filled part of the void that I felt when Rich Mullins was tragically killed almost ten years ago. His ability to use the power of music to portray truth is reminiscent of Mullins. Here are some lyrics from today’s song.

After the last tear falls
After the last secrets told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

Andrew Peterson gives me a powerful reminder that in this fallen world, full of sin and pain, there is a love that can save me. He recognizes that trouble will not escape followers of Jesus. In the midst of our cancer journey Joni and I have felt His love. That love and grace should be my focus as I navigate this crazy and confusing world.

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

Satan tells me there can be no love from a God that allows such pain. The truth is that I am God’s hands and feet to reach out to a wounded world. If everyone who has claimed the name of Christ got serious about doing something tangible we would make a real difference. Would such a concerted effort eliminate all pain and suffering? Of course not. But the body of Christ could make an incredible difference by practicing sacrificial living, giving, and service. There is love. We need to reflect that love. The body of Christ needs to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us.

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

Andrew Peterson’s message is powerful. Someday we will see how God worked in the ugly fallenness of this planet to accomplish His purpose. I once heard a pastor say that he expected to spend the early part of eternity walking around heaven making comments like these.

“Oh, I get it now.’
“Now I see how God was working.”
“I understand why that happened now.”

In the end, there is love. Sometimes I fear my actions don’t reflect that I really believe that with complete certainty. That is why I am grateful for the trials. The good times are fun. But only the hard times slowly mold me a very tiny bit more in His image. In those really hard times I truly realize that there is love.

John finished his comment with these words.

I’ll just take a leaf from their books and learn from them. I’m glad that they lived a life where they trusted in God’s goodness. if they could hold on to God (and I’m sure its not easy), i think i could at least give it another good go at it.

The people I wrote about in yesterday’s post are not superhuman. They are, however, super dependent on the knowledge that God is holy and good, Jesus is their advocate before the Father, and the Holy Spirit is their comfort in the trial. I hope that you see that God is still there through His people. I don’t know why you are going through your trial. I do know that Jesus loves you. And so do His people. And His people are praying for you and rejoicing that you are going to give it another go at it. May God meet you as you step out in faith.