I drive the Middle Schoolers every morning, but today Lauren is staying home. She feels sick. I picked up Sara and Zoey, though, and I offered them control over the hot jam. They both turned me down. Without Lauren scrolling through her songs and playing this and that, the ride was quieter today. The soundtrack of the ride to school most often ends with that Firefly song. So usually someplace on Huntingreen Lane, Lauren will start that blasted song. Not today. Maybe the shock of not hearing it opened my heart to other thoughts. But I felt my heart actually hurt today and my eyes started to water, and I didn’t know what was gripping me so tightly. The last thing I need is for Sara and Zoey to see me cry before school. “I know Lauren’s mom is weird, but what’s her problem today?” I don’t need that.
I usually leave them with a quick word when they are getting out of the car. “Ok girls. Have a good day. Don’t embarrass me!” I drove off and started to cry. I knew what it was. My heart is so burdened for some friends who have just had enough. Actually more than enough. Too much. I’ve seen them go through trials before. I’ve been their trial before. Unimaginable losses were what brought them together in the first place. Beauty from ashes. And it’s been this trial and that trial. And because you can never beat a dead horse too much, let’s go through that old trial again. But right now, it’s just burden on top of trial on top of question on top of uncertainty. And it’s to the point that I’m afraid they might break.
Not break apart. They will break together. But what will be left after the break? I’ve been a Christian long enough to know that being broken is a beautiful thing. Beauty from ashes. But the beauty isn’t seen right away. And I’ve been a Christian long enough to also know that the broken part actually sucks. It really does. Even in turning it over to God, even in laying it at the Cross, even in trusting, and even in the peace that surpasses all understanding, being broken sucks.
It’s covered with blood. Tell me how that doesn’t suck. I know the ending. Christ is risen, and I am washed in His blood. God’s got this. He is in control. There is redemption and renewal and regrowth and resurrection. I know all the beauty. But the blood. The broken. The ashes. All the beauty came from the blood, and to say the broken part doesn’t suck, is to take Christ off the Cross. It invalidates His suffering. His disciples and friends wept and mourned and hid themselves because it really was that awful.
Oh, we can praise God in the midst. We can worship through it. We can exalt Him despite the broken season. But that place where the rubber hits the road is where we have trouble. I’m talking about how do I crawl out of bed today? How do I tell my kids? How do I pay for this? What do I wear to the funeral? Those are the places where it is too painful and too dishonest to just smooth the edges and paint it pretty and tie a bow. It’s those places where my friends have been camped out for too long and it’s too much.
They are walking blindly right now. They know The One who has carried them this far and who will carry them through the trial and who will be with them on the other side. He is the Light of the world, and He is the Way, and He is a lamp unto their feet. But the Bible never says that the road will be easy to take. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Matthew 7:14. And the Bible never says the path will be well lit. This road is literally shadowed by death. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” Psalm 23:4a.
But hold on, my friends. It goes on…”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4. It sucks. It truly does. But the Bible tells us that God didn’t leave us to walk alone and that He will just meet us after it’s over. He isn’t just waiting for us on the other side of the shadow. Friends, He is right there with us in it. That’s the Blood and the empty tomb and the burial cloths. He can be there with us because He isn’t in the tomb anymore.
You walk blindly through some valleys, and that is where you are right now. But take heart. God is with you and He sees your steps.
“”For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.” Job 34:21 ESV
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on [God’s] promises,” Psalm 119:148
“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel,” Luke 2:30-32
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18
“Look, [Jesus] is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him,” Revelation 1:7