Holding Things Loosely

Having written earlier about how attending the funerals of those who have died unexpectedly or prematurely can often increase our awareness of wanting to live a more meaningful and deliberate life, that only happens for those not intimately connected. For others, like immediate family who are closely affected, the death of a loved one in the "prime of life" can raise more serious questions, such as "why did this have to happen?".There are no easy answers, and for people of faith, it is sometimes even more perplexing, not just when a death occurs, but during other times of adversity.

The lack of satisfactory answers to "how could God let this happen?", "where is He in all this?", or "why does God seem so distant, silent and indifferent?" is troubling to say the least.We really have only two choices. Either we don't believe there is a God at all or else we do believe. In the first scenario, life has no real meaning, so it's absurd to even ask the question "why" because "why" is irrelevant. We're just stuck with accepting that "stuff happens, and though we can try and manipulate outcomes, it's largely outside our control".

On the other hand if we do believe, then the questions are legitimate. One might suggest there are more choices such as "well yes there's a God, but He's not involved", however, that makes less sense than going with the first choice, simply because it's contrary to everything He's revealed about Himself.Since it's not the point of this post to get into apologetics and debate the existence of God, I'll move on, but for those who haven't really done an honest investigation of their own to decide for themselves, I would recommend reading some of C. S.

Lewis's books, starting with "Mere Christianity". Lewis, a British scholar and professor at Oxford and Cambridge, has written more than 30 books including "The Chronicles of Narnia". He was early on, an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity, and ended up a devout Christian. But even so, he ended up struggling to understand and accept adversity in his own life. He married in his later years, and his wife died after being with him a relatively short time. In fact he only lived a couple years after her death.

Though he did accept her dying, he was so close to her, and felt such an incredible sense of loss, that he may have lost the will to embrace life without her.I said earlier, there are no easy answers, and there simply aren't. What I've observed is that we have enough information to support a belief in both God and His revelation through Christ, that He is a loving God that cares about His creation, and is certainly concerned and involved in this world. We also know this world isn't operating according to original design and will eventually pass away. In the meantime, we all have a choice to make ? namely do we trust Him. It's a purely binary decision, either believe or don't ? there is no grey area.

However, we absolutely don't have all the answers and never will in this life. The parts we don't understand are what faith is all about. It's like when Christ asked his disciples if they were going to bail out on Him too, and Peter responded with "where else would we go". That's the crux of it ? there is no better alternative.God seems to be much more concerned with our individual relationship with Himself than with anything else, including just about everything we hold onto in life.

It's easy to get focused on a lot of other pursuits, such as money, power, health, possessions, relationships, making ourselves happy, and so on. Most things are neither good nor bad in and of themselves, but any of them can be a problem if we hold them too tightly. If we were to do an honest self-assessment of everything we have or spend our time on, asking the questions, "could I do without this?" or "what would happen if this was taken away?", it would probably be most revealing.

The ability to hold things loosely, with hands unclenched, allowing them to come and go as they please will get us further along the road to understanding and accepting adversities in life than just about anything else. It means we consider ourselves simply stewards of everything as opposed to owners of anything, counting on nothing save our sure relationship with the Almighty.Accepting all this is fairly easy when we aren't the one going through the tough times. But when we are the one whose prayers seem useless, can't hear God anymore, maybe even doubt He's there, and are beat down with no light visible at the end of the tunnel, it can be nearly impossible to accept anything that doesn't just fix whatever is broken. Any words intended as encouragement will more often sound like platitudes from someone who doesn't understand.

About the only useful thing one can do to help is just be there and listen. In his book "The North Face of God", Ken Gire talks about this coming along side people who are suffering, not to provide any answers, but just to walk with them and help wherever possible.At the end of the day, we are never going to get answers to all our questions. We can choose to stay in limbo, or move on. Even Job didn't get an answer to his undeserved suffering.

Instead, God asked him, in so many words, "where were you when I created this world, and who are you to question it?". Harsh sounding, until one stops to consider what God was getting at. We have that marvelous thing called "free will" and He apparently goes out of His way not to interfere with our choices. We have enough data to make a choice and no more. Again, that's why it's called faith.

Pushing everything else aside, sometimes it just comes down to answering His question: "Will you accept Me as your God, even if I don't answer your question or fix your problem?".Maybe our challenge is really to take God out of the box we keep Him in and let Him be God, realizing that if the created understood everything about the creator, He wouldn't be much of a God. When one stops to think, it is rather absurd to think that the finite can comprehend everything about the infinite. We have enough to choose and that's what He leaves us with ? at least in this world.


John Allen writes on a wide range of topics. Visit his blog to read more or obtain feeds. He can also be reached through his website which focuses on finding unique gifts.

By: J Allen


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