Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love.
— Psalm 44: 23–26
You have been very hard on us,
making us drink wine that sent us reeling.
— Psalm 60:3
O God, why have you rejected us so long?
— Psalm 74:1
When it’s just you, all alone with your thoughts, what do you think about? When you’re on your back in the dark staring up at the ceiling, thinking about your day; thinking about your future, what are your thoughts about God and his involvement in your life? Do you wonder if God is there? Do you wonder if he cares? There is so much in this story I can’t reconcile. I started to write “difficult to reconcile” which implies that somehow I’ll be able to reconcile events in this story with my a belief in a God who loves me and cares about me. Which brings to mind the voice of my friend Gus, “It’s not always all about you, Mondok.”
Sometimes I live my life like I’m in the center of a solar system with God in orbit around me.
It has been at times like this when I lay awake in bed at night and give evil liberty to run free in my mind. I convince myself I’m good and fair and fantasize about revenge for what has happened to Allie. I want to hurt the one who has damaged what I love. It’s easy for me to believe violence and pain inflicted by me is a just cause.
Evil runs through each of us. It runs through every person you’ve ever met. It runs through the person you face in the mirror every day. It’s easy to think God has gone missing.
Evil is intoxicating and grows powerful as it germinates and ferments in a human host. It begs to be ignored so it can seethe and plot. For evil to win, it must destroy.
Evil’s greatest weapon is fear.
Fear is toxic. Fear devolves our humanity. It’s the poison that seeps into thoughts about the future. It taints the uncertainty connected to hopes about the future. Fear kills hope.
Fear destroys creativity.
Fear crowds out faith.
Fear changes how you treat everybody, especially the ones you love and hold dearest.
Fear is to failure as hope is to triumph.
Fear keeps us living in a “safe” place of neutrality that exists somewhere between unrestrained evil and risk-taking love. This is a vastly populated no man’s land where life’s travelers simply try to “be good.” All kinds of people live in that place together. It’s a “safe” place where people don’t have to change. They just exist there because it’s too scary to live anywhere else. Heroes don’t come from that place. Love doesn’t grow very well in this “safe” place.
Love is much more powerful than anything in evil’s arsenal. What happens when fear collides with love?
Action. Once love is in motion, fear begins to dissolve. Determination moves in. That’s what I saw in Susan. She processed the circumstances and went to work.
There is a kind of radical love that spills out of heaven, but you can’t see it until evil completely exposes itself.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
— Matthew 6:10
What would life in my world look like if God’s will were being done here the way it gets done in heaven? This is also something I think about on those nights when I can’t sleep.
When I watch Susan with Allie, I see she really believes God is running things. That’s what makes it so easy for her to love. That is how she floods her world with love that comes from heaven.
While she cared for Allie and made wherever we lived with Allie a home, she began to correspond with Timmy in prison. She laid the groundwork for future conversations with him. She lead the way, posturing herself to forgive. She sent him gifts in an attempt to lighten his burden while he spent time in a California prison.
Jesus taught his followers the familiar prayer above not because they were going to live far away from here in heaven someday. Jesus taught them this because he wanted heaven to explode into this world through his followers. This is something Susan gets.
I’m trying to quit asking God “why” and “how come” and “where are you?” I’m forming new habits when I can’t sleep. I begin to list the things I’m thankful for: Allie and her progress; the love of my wife; the people that have made Allie their mission in her school, in doctor’s offices, and in churches. I’m thankful that Susan and I are the parents of the happiest child we’ve ever met.
Maybe I’ll learn to forgive the way Susan has. We’ll see what happens.