Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Although all things work together

Still no trips to the dog pound, and Wilson is growing on us- like a rash- but growing nonetheless. Ginny has been enjoying her new ride, and has been employing the heater, even though the warm weather has rendered it completely unnecessary. I guess deprivation has had its effect. I have my first test tomorrow since re-joining the law school ranks. However, my current approach, as with everything else in my life, has been changed. I just can’t bring myself to pretend like a test is a big deal. However, just to allay the fears of my teacher-of-a-mother, I am prepared. Just aware of perspective.

I recently was reminded of a favorite piece of needless information. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, which reads, “Jesus wept.” Let me set the scene. Jesus has received word that his friend, Lazarus is sick. He assures everyone that death will not come of it and goes on about his business. By the time he arrives, Lazarus is dead. His sisters openly bemoan the fact that Jesus did not make it in time to help. However, Jesus steps in and raises Lazarus from the dead.

Through Eliot, I have increasingly become aware of a powerful temptation. It seems we Christian-types want to jump to the end. That is, when something is difficult, I often will throw around verses detailing how “all things work together for good” and how the Lord is sovereign- all of this in some attempt to make things, somehow better or at least bearable.

Now, this is often because I, like others, do not typically know what to say to people who are dealing with things that rip their heart out. Gut-wrenching things. Difficult situations that I cannot explain. Times that I know make them question why God, if He is all-powerful, is allowing these things to happen.

I feel somehow afraid to acknowledge that- well, for lack of better words- that it sucks. That what they’re going through is really hard and I cannot imagine their pain. For some reason, that acknowledgement seems almost like giving up on God. Kind of like I am letting down the entire faith if I don’t point out that through God it will all be fine.

Despite my own fears, I have found my favorite reactions to all that has gone on, from my best friends. Upon finding out that our firstborn son was sick with a disease, for which there was no cure- one by one, they came up to me or called me and basically said…I am so sorry. I do not know what to say. This is hard and I hate it.

To our friends who so reacted, I say thank you. I know many of them must have felt the same pressures I do when faced with a difficult situation in the life of another. But they saw the fallacy of that temptation; they journeyed to the depths with us instead of telling us that life would return to the high ground.

You see, Jesus wept. If anyone was in the position to know that everything was going to be all right, it was him. He was going to save the day. Resurrect the dead. It was all going to be better. But Jesus wept. I think He wept for his friends who had been through the death of their brother. He wept over death, over heartache.

Awareness that all will eventually be set right does not require acting that such is now.

12 comments:

Mayhem & Miracles said...

So well put. Thank you for being willing to teach those who have not walked in your shoes, how to react to those who have. I appreciate that in all your grief, you recongnize our utter inability to relate, but don't just leave us hanging so - trying to explain how to be a better sympathizer. This may not be your goal, but it has taught me a lot reading your story.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I've followed your blog for months. I just want to say from one Christ-follower to another that I have been moved by your authenticity. I'm so thankful for the way you share your heart and are so real.

I haven't walked the road you have, but I have lost my firstborn, and most recently walked a road with my husband that could have killed me with the pain it caused my heart. I know what it is like to have people become suddenly distant or awkward or not know what to say.

One of the things we've learned on this road more than anything is to be real. Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Life can be a mess sometimes and it can deeply hurt. There aren't easy answers, and sometimes the pain keeps on lingering longer than we want it to. Yes, God is in it, and God is near. He weeps because He cares so deeply for us, and He hurts when we hurt.

I resonate with what you write when you say we so want to jump to the end -- or get to the other side of our difficulty. Isaiah 43 has meant a lot to me. God brings us through. He lets us go through deep waters and promises to be with us in it. I think in a way it is cool that He wants to be with us in it when it is so bad. He's the friend that stays -- even when our circumstance hasn't changed or our feelings are still raw.

That's intimacy with Him, to give Him our heap even when it is a mess. Getting rid of pretense and platitudes. That's where we let Him in and He heals.

Praying God continues to bless you with friends who come alongside you and encourage you to feel and process. That is a gift.

LCRsMom said...

Very beautifully explained. You know how to describe your heart and emotions precisely to those who don't know you. I couldn't help but think that when you are a practicing lawyer, in the courtroom and "performing" your closing statement, that you will perk the ears of even those who are opposing your client. You have an art to your words and I am blessed to have come across this blog, and to have learned of Eliot.

The Wells Family said...

It's so true. I am finding as I get older and go through trials with changed eyes, that my "surface" friends - the ones who aren't able to go into the depths along with me - are not the ones I cling to in my deepest, darkest times. There are no words to describe the way I feel about the ones who are able to go through with me, beside me, but all the while NOT trying to make things better. Just to walk through the suffering with me and come out on the other side changed as well. A true, true blessing from God and at times it is when I feel God's "real" presence with me the most.

I am currently reading "Disappointment with God" by Philip Yancey. It approaches this subject and many others that are fascinating - and uncommon - to read (at least by me). I would definitely recommend it as a refreshing book that is not afraid to "go into the depths".

JenMom said...

So true and beautifully put.

FunkyMonkeyJunk said...

I love to read mysteries. Even as a child, I remember reading complicated mystery stories well above my age-range. But my one weakness: Sometimes the suspense would be so strong that I'd jump to the last page and read the ending...just so I would know things would be "okay". I do have a tendency to do this with life. Even give myself those empty platitudes. But what it does is water down the here and now...the mystery of what God is doing with me and my life.

Thank you Matt. I needed this today.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say how precious your son Elliot is. I know that you are missing him so very much. He is so blessed to have you as his parents. Thank you for sharing his life with others. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Christie in Florida

Mrs. olivia said...

Good morning Ginny and Matt! With a dog, a car with heat(Yea!), and law school exams I think you have been busy- I proudly tell your journey anytime someone comments on my eliot necklace- which is often! Thanks for reminding us that life sucks less when there are people who care- like you said in your list of 10 things- willing to not say they understand but they are there- Spring is in the air- I pray this season of rebirth will continue to fill your hearts with His promises- Take care- Love and prayers, Mrs. olivia

Jennifer Gilfoil said...

Your words never cease to amaze me- Thank you- Much love, Mrs Jennifer

Corey Gilfoil said...

EACH TIME I READ YOUR WORDS I AM TEMPTED TO WRITE BUT THEN DECIDE AGAINST IT BUT RECENTLY I WAS READING A DEVOTIONAL AND FOUND A PART THAT REMINDED ME OF YOU (I KNOW THIS MAY SEEM CRAZY - BUT MY THOUGHTS DO OFTEN GO TO YOU AND LIKE MRS. OLIVIA I LOVE TO SHARE YOUR SON'S STORY AND THE STORY OF YOUR AND GINNY'S LOVE AND STRENGTH)
"WE HUMANS CAN OVERCOME JUST ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT WE CAN'T OVERCOME DEATH. AND THE DEEPER WE LOVE THE HARDER WE GRIEVE. FINALLY WE COME THROUGH THE OTHER SIDE...WHEN OUR LOVE BECOMES ACCEPTANCE - PERHAPS OF OUR OWN INABILITY TO LET GO OF PEOPLE ALL AT ONCE. WE DON'T WANT TO LET GO, SO WE LET GO IN STAGES - IMPERFECT, PAINFUL, NOT ALWAYS PRETTY. AND EACH AND EVERY STEP OF THE WAY GOD TAKES HOLD OF WHAT WE HAVE LET GO."
MATT AND GINNY I ADMIRE YOUR STRENGTH, FAITH, AND LOVE THROUGHOUT - I PRAY EACH DAY WILL FIND YOU WITH MORE PEACE. FOR EACH STAGE - LOVE AND PRAYS COREY

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog via a "friend of a friend of yours". We lost our precious Andrew James to T-18 on July 31, 2006. I have appreciated your honesty - you've somehow been able to capture everything we only wish we could say. Thanks.

Jeff & Dawn Schutt
theschutts@hotmail.com

On Fire For Him said...

To Matt and His wife Ginny,

Interesting how a computer can somehow connect people from afar. We will most probably never meet face to face and yet I well up inside when I read your blog and feel as though I know the both of you.

I have been reading the book, The Supremacy of God in the Missions Field, by John Piper. When I read the chapter, The Supremacy of God in Suffering, I thought so much of you and your wife. In his book, Piper talks about how God is totally glorified through our suffering.

It may not feel so now, but I have to encourage you....

YOU ARE GLORIFYING THE LORD WITH THE PASSING OF YOUR SON!

He dances over you, sings over you, thinks about you all the time. He loves you deeply and finds you to be so amazing. You are glorifying Him beyond words.

I am sorry that you are walking through this. I can't imagine being in your shoes, not even one bit.

You are drawing us closer to Him by sharing your faith, hurt, discouragement, and trust.

Please make sure your wife reads this, as it is as much for her as it is for you.