By: Elisabet Medina
While I was in Nicaragua I started reading this book. I expected a cheesy Christian novel akin to a Hallmark Christmas Movie. As I dove in the story, I was met with a narrative that wrestled with some of my deepest questions about God.
I realize that words like god, soul, faith are heavy words and carry implications, perhaps even wounds from the very institutions that were supposed to foster relationships with God.
I approached this book with caution yet from the very beginning I was brought in. The book opens with a character that is ravaged by the murder of his daughter and suffers from what he calls "The Great Sadness".
As a social worker, on a daily basis I operate in the reality of children suffering whether it is sexual exploitation, abuse, or in the most extreme cases death. Though, I have never lost a child myself. I have had to wrestle with this reality and hold this reality up to God's goodness.
I don't pretend to know why these things happen, or why God does not intervene, or how free will fits into this picture. What I have realized is that constant exposure to this reality of suffering has affected my belief in God's goodness.
This affect hasn't been blantant I've never denounced my faith but rather it has been subtle in the ways that I approach God. Trusting that God is good and loves me, though I have heard it, since my early days of childhood, often feels like head knowledge competing against the reality of suffering.
As long as knowledge of God's goodness and love remained in my head, I noticed that I've often acted in independence. In American culture independence is as valued if not more than the dollar. We perceive ourselves as self-made men and women. Being a feminist, I also held independence in high esteem, I have lived alone for the past 6 years, traveled alone and frequently can be seen solo at the movies.
Diving into this book, while spending 10 days in a communal culture with family has me second guessing the value of independence. For those that claim to follow God and Jesus' way of life, independence is not an option. We were intended for relationship and community; relationship with God and others.
I can point to my missteps and regrets and pinpoint when I tried to do things on my own without trusting God, without seeking community wisdom, stubbornly I have approached life as if I was alone yet that is the furthest thing from the truth. We are never alone.
The whole time God was extending an invitation to sit with me, in the unanswered questions, in the pain, in the confusion of it all. Just like in the book whose main character receives a mysterious invitation and encounters God in the most unexpected of forms, I find myself seeing God in a new and unexpected way. I see God as also holding these realities of suffering, not causing it but transforming it. God is the source where goodness flows extending and stretching towards us to meet us right where we are, just as we are, questions and all.
Note: Not a sponsored post.
"Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don't assume that using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes that will only lead you to false notions about me".