By Jessica Brodie (From the Advocate, November 2016)
So much pain. So much devastation.
As I write this, I’m haunted by images of the flooded town of Nichols. By the destruction on Hilton Head Island, my husband’s hometown. By the children in Haiti and Cuba, some of them new orphans. In one picture, a little Cuban boy carries his belongings down a storm-littered street in Baracoa, a backpack carried on his front as he clutches a pastel pink teddy bear, jagged pieces of metal and shards of roof tiles guiding his way.
It’s enough to make a heart break.
And then there’s the community of Townville, enduring the kind of horror no small community would ever dream. One child dead at the hands of another still young enough to be called a child. Both children of God, indeed.
Add to all of this the presidential debates, rife with name-calling, lies and disrespect, making our nation into a joke on the international stage.
So much pain.
Reading in Job the other day, I came across a verse that won’t let me go. In the passage, Job has lost everything—his children, his wealth, his health—and he wishes to die. Begs for it, in fact, craving a release from the awful existence his life has become. He wishes he has never been born. But his friend tries to comfort him, pleading with him to turn to God.
“Surely humans are born to distress, just as sparks rise up,” his friend tells Job. “ But I would seek God, put my case to God, who does great things beyond comprehension, wonderful things without number” (Job 5:7-9).
The answer in all things, good or bad, is always God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
But his friend’s notion, that distress is something humans are born to, is what has me coming back to that verse over and over.
In our society, all too often we seem to think that misfortune is a rarity, that life is supposed to be free from pain or struggle or hardship. Parents go to great lengths to ease their children’s hurt feelings, even rescuing them from getting bad grades. Pop culture has us believing sometimes that life is one big party, and our only true goal is to achieve personal happiness. When bad things happen, we get taken aback—this is supposed to happen. This wasn’t part of my plan. This isn’t my promised reward.
But as Christians, we know we are meant for more. And we know that bad things do happen, often to very good people.
All we can do is what Job’s friend advised: seek God. And do our best to love one another as we go.