“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Isaiah 42:3a
You’re in a swirl of darkness, experiencing soul-searing pain. Open wounds. Not only from your own pain, but from the countless injustices and atrocities around you. Numb. Your soul is numb with a fragile faith. One wrong move and you’ll fall to pieces. You can’t see God through the fog of his people. Jesus said that people would spot Christians by their love. If that’s the case, then you couldn’t be surrounded by Christians because these people are selfish, stubborn, mean, and angry. Vicious. Evil. Creative in their cruelty. And they’ve come to crucify you.
As my friend Michelle Van Loon says, there are Judas-like characters lurking in the most unexpected places.
And of course this disillusions you, maybe you’re to the point where you don’t know what to believe or if you believe or why you should believe. Is God who he says he is? Is what I’ve learned about him true? Or is this some big sham? Why attend church? you wonder. Moreover, if God is good and loving, why is there so much evil, pain, and suffering? Why are there so many professing Christians who are nothing like Jesus?
What can be done for you? Is this all there is? You fear falling into the bottomless abyss of unbelief. What you don’t want, what you don’t need, is someone to quote Bible verses to you. Offer pat answers. Tell you to be “warm and filled”. Share other vacuous expressions cloaked in piety. These make you bristle and for good reason.
You know what? Jesus isn’t that way. He doesn’t kick you when you’re down. But he asks, “What can I do for you?” (No empty niceties here.) Jesus came to reconcile you and all of creation to God. He wants to show you how to live, to make you whole-fully human. And he will walk with you as you heal. He knows the pace you can manage.
God is good; in him there is no evil, although in the world there is plenty of evil mixed in with the good. He sees your suffering and suffers with you as you lament the despicable behavior of some of his children. After all, he too was crucified by his own.
He will sharpen your perceptions of reality through his word, through Christians who behave(d) like him, and through creation’s graces. He’ll answer many questions, and make you okay with not knowing the answers to others. He’ll pour his life into you as you follow him. In turn, you’ll live to serve God and others. It’s not the end for you. Right now, the best thing you can do is trust him and relax in his arms even if you can’t pray or go to church or serve (he knows all this). He won’t prematurely force you into relationships with others. He’ll bring you around to truth and life and comfort.
One more thing. There are plenty of Christians who are like Jesus. If you know any, plant yourself in their presence, maybe let them know what you’re going through.
Originally posted in January 2013