For years I have taught that the superpower of sitting beside someone we love with the skill of empathy means using few words and more presence. Fighting everything within us to not say platitudes out loud because we are so uncomfortable or just want to fix someone’s pain.
More than anything, we need to choose empathy not platitudes because we don’t want our loved one in struggle to feel alone. And, platitudes can often only leave them feeling even more alone.
We’re used to the everyday platitudes like:
- oh you poor thing
- everything happens for a reason
- I just can’t imagine
- at least…
What happens though when even our faith begins to feel like a collection of platitudes?
Here I am, still fighting out of nowhere debilitating pain and a scary diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia that has changed my entire life, on top of life and the difficulties of 2020.
Pain I have begged God to take away and heal for months now, and the usual faith-based platitudes are starting to feel empty.
I know the attack is from the enemy.
I know I am not being punished.
I know the enemy only attacks what is valuable and what he is threatened by.
I know God is my strength.
I know God is with me through it all.
I know He will use it for my good & His glory.
And I even know that the attack often means promotion.
I know and trust all of these words of my faith, most backed by scripture, platitude-like or not.
And still, on the hard and dark days, frankly I don’t give a fuck.
I simply want a break.
I want the pain to stop and the light to be felt again.
I need the world to feel a little safer, not so sad, broken, divided, and total dumpster fire like.
What do we do when even the knowings we have about who God is, how much He loves us, and the trust we have in Him still feels like empty platitudes?
How do we believe the God of back then who resurrected, healed, parted the Red Sea, and performed miracle after miracle with the God of now who allows natural disasters, utter broken humanity, hate, violence, my pain to still be here, and so much more?
He does not cause this darkness, He does however allow it to come into our lives sifted through the filter of His loving hands.
He is the God who allows.
He is the Allower.
Perhaps, what we must hold on to for dear life is that He is the Loving Allower…
And so we must remember who God is.
We remember Who He is and we remember those platitudes because they are rooted in His Word which means they aren’t empty words, rather they are rooted and true anchors of His love and redemption.
Which means, I am realizing, that these anchors are actually God’s because I said so.
Growing up my parents said because I said so when they were trying to keep me safe, when they were trying to let me struggle, when I didn’t want to do what they knew was best for me, and probably yes, when they were exasperated by me. Because I said so, although words no child likes hearing and could be replaced with more empathic words at times, are words that when you have parents who loved you well and who you could trust, you knew you could trust them on the other side of those words. They were usually right, even though it sucked.
On the other side of pain or darkness or division will be light. Somehow, and someway, we can trust God. We can trust that He is with us and that it will be good because He only does good.
And so, we remember.
Because He said so.
Over and over we read how good God is, how He will never leave us nor forsake us, how He will work everything for our good and for His glory. Over and over we read that He is sovereign, loving, faithful, redeeming, merciful, wise, full of grace, comforting, powerful, creative, and so much more beyond our understanding that many of us will spend the rest of our lives knowing Him better, and therefore receiving more of His full love.
Because honestly holding onto the faithfulness of the God Who Allows and to trust the God of Because I Said So feels nearly impossible when it’s this dark.
So far the only thing God has shown me in this current dark season, is that it is exactly here that we must remember what we read over and over again in scripture, God will never leave us nor forsake us.
To even begin to reconcile God the Allower, especially in seasons where it feels like His Word is a big because I said so of empty platitudes, I must remember Jesus. I must remember the greatest mystery ever of a God who loved us so much He entered the story with us. He humbly walked the earth as His very human Son Jesus, Who felt the full gravity of every human emotion and the blows of every physical pain imaginable. He walked and suffered on this earth with the love of His Father with Him and in Him.
And then He chose death, for us, and putting Heaven in us. And for those of us who know Him we get to live this messy, often dark and painful life, with the love of our Father with us and in us too.
Because He is the God of always with us.
This I must remember.
This I will remember.
This I will not let the enemy take from me. No matter how hard he tries. Even though in the darkness it can feel nearly impossible.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t get tired, questioning, frustrated, and angry at what I am having to go through and the darkness of this world.
It does mean I must remember to turn toward God with it all because He already knows, He can handle it, and frankly, He is already there in it and with me anyway.
And when I turn toward Him, my chances of feeling, knowing, living into, and emanating His presence increases.
For me, looking to Jesus helps this truth settle in even more.
In perhaps the darkest moment of His life and our history, there on the cross, Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
As if asking what so many of us have asked God ourselves at some point in our lives, especially this year, Where are you, God? Why are you letting this happen?
There on the cross, with what I believe can be the greatest weapon of the enemy today, Jesus feels the rejection and anguish of God turning away. I mean I get it, as much as our simple and wired for comfort brains can get it. In that moment on the cross, God turned away from His Son because Jesus had taken on all the world’s darkness, it was the only way to save us all. They love us that much.
And yet, Jesus still cried out for His Father.
What if perhaps Jesus’ cry of My God, My God why have you forsaken me is not only a cry out of rejection?
What if perhaps, this cry is also the cry of a suffering child calling out to His loving Father? A cry, even knowing the rejection and death ahead of Him, because Jesus also knew that resurrection, reunion, and glory would come soon after. A cry out, more than that, because He trusted His Papa with everything, our Papa.
Because He said so.
And so, friends, what I know is that we must cry out too.
May we cry through the darkness and our anguish, just as Jesus showed us to.
Because we can trust our Loving Allower.
Because He said so.
Because He is always with us.
Because when we do, we remember His promises of good and glory.
Scripture references: Ephesians 6:12, Luke 12:48, Psalm 91, John 10:10, Luke 10:19, James 1:2, Psalms 46:1-3, Nehemiah 8:10, Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, 1 Peter 5:10, Phillipians 4:13, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Job 19:25