Every single one of us knows what it feels like to want something. From the moment we take our first breath, we are able to loudly assert our desire for something that we want. We want food, we want comfort, we want sleep, we want to be held. For an infant, our wants are simple, but as we grow, we learn to want more. We want a particular toy, we want a certain snack, we want just the right pair of shoes. The older we get, the more elaborate and demanding our wants become. We want more money, we want designer clothing, we want the biggest house, we want the perfect spouse.
When we get something we want, it makes us feel good—for a while. Soon, though, you want something else. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of thinking that what you have is never enough and to equate what we want with our happiness. Single people say, “If only I were married, then I would be happy.” Married people say, “If only we had a baby, then we would be happy.” Employees say, “If only I made more money, then I would be happy.”
The problem isn’t WHAT you want…it’s the fact that your happiness is tied inexorably to the want. It becomes a vicious cycle of want – pleasure – disappointment – and want again. It’s a prison. But you can be set free. The key to unlocking the door to your dungeon of desire is already in your hand. You just have to use it.
I had breakfast with a friend this morning. We had planned to meet with another woman and make it a girls’ day out, but plans changed and we were able to dine alone. We met at a quaint little coffee shop in our hometown and placed our orders. We sat down at a table littered with puzzle pieces, and my friend was immediately entangled in the process of placing the tiny mosaics in order to reconstruct a photograph of a beautiful, blue victorian home. While she worked, we ate and talked. The conversation was pleasant. We discussed the minutae of our lives and exchanged a few laughs.
Then I did it.
I had wanted to know for awhile, but I never felt the time was right to ask. But today, with just the two of us, and she occupied with a task for her hands, I asked her about Chelsea.
Chelsea is her beautiful, perpetually-just-shy-of-sixteen-years-old daughter. During a routine trip to a neighboring city, my friend and two of her three children were involved in a motor vehicle accident, and Chelsea was tragically killed. As I listened to the painful recounting of that fateful day three years ago, I was struck silent. I soaked in the scenery and the emotions as Bev carefully and tearfully walked me through her memories of that day. After sharing, she pondered aloud the question that all of us have asked at one point or another – “Why would God take HER when there are so many bad people in the world?”
In this passage of scripture, Job is asking the same thing. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why is there pain and suffering for believers? Why is it that tragedy strikes? I’ve been contemplative since our meeting this morning. My friend is quite a happy person in light of her unbelievably difficult reality. I’m not sure I could function, much less be productive, positive and pleasant. I am not a parent, but I am a doting aunt and just the thought of losing one of my neices or nephews brings me to a very dark place.
As I thought about today’s reading, I marvelled at the tenacity of Job, but I am also moved by the life of this woman, my friend, who shared her heart with me today. As I sit here, I am listening to the song “Breath of Heaven” and I am reminded of another loss. In the blockbuster movie, The Passion of the Christ, the scene that breaks my heart most, is the point where Mary watches her son walking down the road, heavy with the cross of his crucifixion on his shoulders. As he passes, virtually unrecognizable, he falls and she remembers Jesus as a happy, vibrant toddler running, laughing and falling as a child. She didn’t see the Savior of the human race – she saw her baby, and He was hurting – and she was powerless.
That’s how my friend felt – that’s how Job felt – and that’s how God must have felt when He watched His son suffer and die. When I read these scriptures, I am made sad at the pain that people have to suffer. At the same time, I am selfishly thankful that I have not had to endure that type of pain. I am also aware that we are not the only ones who suffer. God himself suffered.
I don’t know why God lets bad things happen to good people, but I find comfort in the knowledge that He knows what that kind of loss feels like. I find grace in the words of my friend, who while hurting can still bless God and look to Him as her source of strength and hope. I am comforted in knowing that the tears we weep for the losses we endure on this side of the veil are not shed alone. God himself weeps with us. He is our Champion and Friend. He is just as sad about our suffering as we are, maybe moreso.
Our breakfast turned into lunch. We shared and cried together. I was able to see a part of my friend’s heart that was broken and vulnerable, and in sharing about her loss – we gained. We added to our friendship. We increased the memory of a very special girl whose life positively impacted more than 1,000 people. We grew in understanding of the depths of love.
Maybe that’s the real lesson here. Maybe the reason we experience loss is to gain. . .
Thank you for sharing your life with me. I have been blessed.