Of grappling with tragedy...

Sometimes life doesn't turn out like you thought it would.  Not even a little. 

I wrote last week about happiness being a choice and of Kim's new life in a wheelchair. I read this update on her caringbridge site this morning...

Kim's main PT has told her that statistically most return happens by six months (post injury) which will be Sept 27th. The therapist explained that even though she is still making progress, she will probably be in a wheelchair 90% of the time and will possibly walk 10% of the time with her braces and a walker in her apartment only. 

This news robbed her of all hope of walking for a couple of days after hearing it. She shed alot of tears, spent much time in prayer, and asked God to strengthen her. She remembered that she had been told both at JPS hospital and Baylor Rehab that return can happen up to two years after the injury (and I have read that Christopher Reeve had new movement FIVE YEARS LATER)! NEEDLESS TO SAY, KIM FIRED THIS THERAPIST!!! 

It occurs to me that everyone I have ever known who has walked with God for a long time has gone through something deeply painful.  And it catches us by surprise.  The thing that comes out of the blue and makes us feel unsafe. The event our minds can't grapple with--that shatters all "positive thinking" theology.

The thing is that these tragedies aren't unusual.  Illness, accidents, death, loss, infidelity, financial hardship, pain...they are "common to man" and yet when it happens to us, it most certainly does not feel common.  It feels unusual. Confusing. Spiteful, even.

And as much as our American Theology demands a quick fix--a pill we can take or a product we can purchase--there typically isn't one.  We simply have to walk through it. Battling the confusion, fighting the despair, grieving the loss. 

I've come to believe that the gain in all of this is to strip away the illusions we don't even know we have so that we can gear shift into being who we really are.  Who we were always meant to be. 

Job--the Biblical character that is the poster child for hardship--is recorded as saying: 

My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.

We don't see things clearly.  Not ourselves and not God. Tragedy rips away the blind spots we didn't even know we had. And it would seem that only in impossible situations are we willing to let go of the things we use to define ourselves. All the scaffolding of our defense mechanisms, protective walls and ego. All the shadows of our fear, anger and pride that we no longer have the strength to hide from.

Calvin Miller writes: 

They all must die.  And ever does the self die hard.  It begs and screams in pity not to go. Nor can it bear to let the spirit own the soul. 

Make no mistake.  The cross is not an instrument of service, it is an instrument of death. However, the power of the story of Jesus is that the story doesn't stop there.  God always works for resurrection. 

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall