Saturday, June 30, 2012


from here

I saw a magic show the other day. I was at a wedding expo with my engaged sister-in-law, and the theme of the fashion parade was “The Magic of Love,” mainly (it seemed) so that the one magician there had an excuse to show off his tricks and try to dazzle all of the future brides (for there weren’t many future grooms around, I noticed) into booking him for their weddings. Magic shows usually just make me feel embarrassed for the magician; I don’t like the cringe-worthy music and the moves between each trick, plus I can’t help but think of Gob from Arrested Development which makes it even harder to take the act seriously.

My sister-in-law and I whispered to each other throughout a lot of the show, discussing how we thought the magician had just made the candle disappear or pulled three boxes from his empty paper bag. It was clear from the little huddles of women in the audience making collapsing gestures and pointing out pieces supposed to be hidden in the magician’s hand that most of them were doing exactly the same thing. For most of the tricks it wasn’t hard to figure out the secret; they were the regular, ‘seen-it-before’ type obviously bought from Magic “R” Us or wherever those guys go for their supplies. A couple, though, had me genuinely wowed and made me stop analysing the tricks and start analysing my response to the show.

I wondered, as I sat there, how much we’re constrained by our desire to have an explanation for everything; how much we miss simply enjoying, or fully experiencing, because we haven’t yet figured out how something works. I’m going to bring Christianity into this thought process, though I’m in no way suggesting that following God requires a suppression of logic or intelligence or that faith is all heart and no head. I’ve been thinking that perhaps were sometimes too proud to admit that we actually can’t work out why or how or what God’s up to. We forget that God’s God, and that we’re frustratingly human. Isaiah 55:8-9 comes to mind:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts...”

I forget this. Often. I like knowing and understanding, it helps me to feel like things are under control and predictable and safe; it disappoints and scares me to think that I may never be able to know or understand some of the things God’s doing in the world, or in my life. The audience at the magic show assured me that I’m not the only one who feels like this, and I included others when speaking about pride earlier because of some of the unhelpful ways people responded to news of the miscarriage. “I’m so sorry for your loss” feels as though it ends with an ellipsis, and we seem to prefer more sturdy punctuation in tough times. To regain a sense of control we have to push on with something like, “But I’m sure you’ll have lots more babies!” or “But it’ll all work out in the end!” Comments like these reinforce the myth that there are no questions we can’t find answers for, that we know everything will turn out okay, that we’re not completely out of control, that God is an amateur magician whose tricks we’ll always be able to spot the secret to. They sound most strange coming from fellow Christians.

I’ve complacently lived by the “Everything happens for a reason” line for a long time now, never actually stopping to ponder whether I believed I’d been given a reason for anything else that’d happened in my life so far, or what the Bible might have to say about my motto. The last few shaky weeks have left me with more questions than answers: What was the point of me enduring (over the last two pregnancies) a couple of months’ worth of can’t-do-anything-productive, want-to-die morning sickness with absolutely nothing to show for it? How will these miscarriages make me more like Jesus when Jesus was never wiped out with hormone-related illness for weeks or surprised by the news of his baby’s death? Does the pain he suffered make him able to empathise with all kinds of pain, or just the kind of pain he faced himself? Is Jesus pain the same as God’s? Does - or can - anyone understand the Trinity?!

Is it enough to believe that the reason some things happen is just so that we’re able to comfort others in the same situation in future, and what if we get to death’s door and realise those opportunities never arose? The God I’ve been taught about is only ever represented as male, although I know, I know, I know that God is genderless; I’m not sure how to think of God as anything but Father, yet I can’t relate to that metaphor at this time of grieving as a mum. How do I get around that? Does God care? Why? Is there a reason for everything? And, perhaps the biggest question of all, who am I to expect any answers from God?

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

I want to finish this post by saying, “I’ll work it out eventually.” Instead, I can only end with an annoying ellipsis: I am a mere human asking God-sized questions (dot), I am not in control (dot), I don’t have all the answers (dot). I’ll keep trying to figure it all out, for sure; I have a date with the chapter on God’s providence from Grudem’s Systematic Theology later this week, to begin with. But I don’t want to miss any “Wow!” moments by searching too intently when I should just be trusting and enjoying, humbly accepting my teeny tinyness next to my very big God. Remembering that I’ll probably never get my head around the science behind the lights in the night sky, but that shouldn’t stop me from staring at the stars in awe and proclaiming anew, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1).

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an amazing post. Honestly, your writing is a gift to me and I pray it's one of the ways God brings healing to you as well.

    Your metaphor of punctuation is really, really fitting. I totally relate to not wanting to stay with "..." or "?" for any length of time. It's uncomfortable. I want to move onto something more definite ASAP.

    Love you heaps xoxo