Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Comfort without Answers

Imagine standing at a customer service desk in a store and presenting your question to the manager. Instead of answering it for you, he comes around the desk and gives you a hug, tells you good and truthful things about who you are, and then says he'll spend the rest of the day with you. I'm guessing, you'd probably back away from him pretty quickly. You want answers, not his company.

In two weeks, I'll have an MRI that will hopefully bring answers to a number of symptoms that continue to challenge me. But, as many of you know, waiting is part of the story. Answers don't come right away. So there are many days where there are no answers and I've been thinking about that quite a bit. Some people, well meaning,  try to give answers to make me feel better or make themselves feel better. They suggest that God will heal me completely. Or they suggest that I am on a healing path that will take awhile but it will happen. But what I'm noticing is that those suggestions, as lovely as they are, are still suggesting that the peace will come in answers. I'm not so sure.

Imagine John chapter 14 taking place at a customer service desk. The disciples are troubled and realizing something big is about to go down. They are wondering why, after all this time, Jesus is talking about leaving, They show up to the desk and ask questions: "Which way do we go?" Jesus answers, "I am the way." . . . " The disciples must have been thinking it would be better to talk to someone with more authority. They request to speak to someone higher up. They ask, "Okay, then just show us God, the Father, that's all we need to know and then we'll be content."  Jesus answers by reminding them that he and the Father are the same. The disciples ask, "Okay, but then why don't you just announce who you really are to the world? That will make everything easier."Jesus answers, "that's not the plan..." 

What a truly unsatisfying experience. 

But here is what Jesus does next. He responds to what he sees as the deeper longing of their hearts. He gives them something better than answers. He knows that answers don't truly satisfy. 

Jesus says, "I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left–feeling abandoned , bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught." John 14:25-27

As an experiment of this, I've been asking God for comfort, instead of answers. To be honest, it doesn't feel as hard-core, or as living-on-the-edge, going-for-the-best, be-all-you-can-be . . . it feels weak, vulnerable and in need of grace. But, that is exactly how I feel. Perhaps if the disciples were honest, they may have just admitted to Jesus, that they were scared. But they demanded answers. Thankfully, Jesus looks past our blurry hearts and minds and sees the truth of what we really long for. 

Having lived with chronic pain and illness for 22 years now, I know that answers come after months of waiting, after test results come in, and then sometimes, not even then. But what I do know is that when I am leaning in, and admitting my need for Grace and love and peace and comfort, there is strength that emerges, patience that builds, a bigger vision that awakens to what greater purposes may be going on in the midst of this. Peace is not in the answers, it is in Jesus. 

A song for your day . . . by Rend Collective. Click on the image to the left to see their video.

"My Lighthouse"
In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won't walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence, You won't let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, 
You will carry me safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore

I won't fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I'll rise and sing
My God's love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You're the brightest
You will lead us through the storms