There are books on my shelf: Where is God When it Hurts? The Problem of Pain. A Path Through Suffering. I am looking for answers.
I remember a warm afternoon when Dad drove us through the ripped-up town. Two score hence, and the images are sharp still. The funnel’s random path, S-curves chewing at the earth. One house standing, the next one lying in splinters on the ground. Corkscrew tree trunks. Pieces of life littered everywhere. We rode quiet in the car that day.
After that day, the cities all around started the warnings. System tests, the first Monday of the month at noon. Sirens blaring, my classmates and I would bend over in hallways with our heads between our knees. A humble yoga born out of a new fear.
Then I grew up and worked insurance and wondered at the catastrophes and accidents. The double edges of profit margin and compassion seemed in conflict—actuarial calculations and risk analysis were applied to people who were hurting. There were files in my drawer—files with names of people whose lives would never be the same again.
Is it our tendency to try to make sense out of human pain? One perfect September morning, I stand in my kitchen, swollen with life, happy. Then the phone rings—“You won’t believe it,” and towers fall down and people jump and we sit in disbelief watching it all.
It’s the day after Christmas and I am nursing a tiny daughter, relishing my last chance at mother-wonder, when the ocean swells beyond its shore and consumes the coastline in one monstrous swallow. The stories keep coming. There is the rubble in Port-au-Prince, more in Japan. There are emaciated lost boys of Sudan staggering through the desert on a death march. I try to enter in—I cannot trace His hand.
Perhaps I cannot trace it because it was not His plan. Eden was his plan. Then came the ruin. Sudden and slow.
But He foreknew all of it. And He set apart His rescuing Son for those who would believe–Christ who was crucified before the foundation of the world.
A picture was posted from Joplin. A rainbow, colors stretching in duplicate across an angry sky. A promise picture. A promise fulfilled in His perfect Son. A promise that calls us to look beyond the seen to the unseen where the hurt is gone and all is Eden again.