My niece went into labor at 26 weeks and gave birth to two very tiny baby girls. Chloe & Macey. Battered and bruised by such an early birth, Chloe died in her mother’s arms on the first day. Macey, they were told, had very little chance of survival.
On a day like that, when you know that those babies had been bathed in prayer and cared for with the most sincere and cautious care by the Mom to be, you question God’s loving kindness.
My friend was driving with the windows down on a Sunday morning to catch the first warm breezes of spring when her car struck a deer and went off the road. Battered and bruised, she went to the hospital for treatment and said good bye to the car that she’ll still be paying for but won’t ever be driving again.
On a day like that, when you know that single Mom can’t afford the time she’ll miss from work, you question God’s loving kindness.
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
and you survive.
This is what it is to be loved,
and to know that the promise was
when everything fell we’d be held.
– from Natalie Grant’s album ‘Awaken’, song title ‘Held’
When I first listened to this song I struggled to grasp the meaning of the words. On one hand it seemed meant to be encouraging but on the other hand it was not at all so. I had to go pull the lyrics to try to understand what the writer was saying.
Unlike most songs in which the writer usually tells us to hold on and we’ll soon see God’s hand of deliverance – this song reminds us that we aren’t promised any specific promise of deliverance on the earth.
You can be angry with the circumstances you face. You can rail in anguish at the seeming indifference of a Father in heaven. You can weep and cry and bargain for your pain to be removed. Your pain is real and your desire for healing and deliverance is understandable.
The bible says that God sends sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust. Good things will happen to bad people and bad things will happen to good people. The world we live in is evil and there is a spiritual battle that most of us cannot begin to understand.
From our point of view – God abandons us and allows us to experience terrible loss when He could and should intervene on our behalf.
But from His point of view – what does He see? We can’t fathom it.
What do we know about God? He is good. He is holy. He is all powerful. He created us and He loved us so much that He would not allow us to die in our sin. He sent His only Son to live among us and die in our place. He accepted the shed blood of Jesus Christ as the price of redemption once and for all and He allows every single man and woman on the earth to lay claim to that redemption just by confessing the name of Jesus.
He redeemed us from an eternity in hell and promised us eternity with him.
But He did not promise us heaven on earth – He promised a new heaven and earth. On this earth He promised us that evil men would hate us and seek to kill us. He promised that persecution would be rampant and the earth would crumble around us. He promised us a Comforter and He promised us that He would be coming for us – and that He will avenge us.
And we accuse Him of unfaithfulness when pain and death come near our homes.
When the worst happens, when our hearts are broken and cold with grief, when we feel farthest from Him we are called to remember that He hasn’t promised a life without heartache – but He has promised to be there.
Knowing this is a comfort to those who believe that there is more to life than life on earth. This is only bearable because we have placed our faith in God’s promise of eternity. Someday He will wipe away our tears of pain and we will at last know what it is like to live without fear of loss. We will experience pure joy and awesome security without the presence of evil and death.
Until then, his arms are enough.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” -Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)