In midlife I realized that “sad” was no longer an adjective in my life, but had become a noun. An immovable piece of furniture, right in the middle of my life. What had, in the vigor of youth, seemed like periodic blues, was now a constant state of too much grief over too small a reason. Why? What are you sad about? they asked. Nothing. And yet….
Then panic attacks became crippling. Nothing to do but go to the hospital, get tests, counseling, medication. An EEG revealed a glitch in the brain. The type, one nurse told me, they usually see in patients who were adopted or sexually abused as a child. How about both?
The iron door to the basement rattled, creaked a little, but held. I dabbled in revealing my “secrets,” along with other willing patients. But only a little. Better to limp as quickly as possible back to “normal,” pretend everything was alright now. Soldier on. Smile. As I had been raised to do.
I know I am not alone. Why doesn’t God fix us? Why aren’t we joyful all the time? The “fruit of the Spirit” not for us? What are we doing wrong? For Christians, there are taunts from our secular world all the time. Why praise God for not being hurt worse in a wreck? Why did He let it happen in the first place? Why praise God for His faithfulness when you are crippled by a birth defect or mental illness? The lost world loves to point and sneer: Where is your God now?
Well, He is the same place He was for Job as he suffered and lost everything, and Abraham as he led the clan from everything familiar out into the desert. The same place He was when His only son was nailed to a cross. Read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15. The crowd insulted Him, jeered: “Where is your God now? Come down from the cross!”
But, of course, they would not have believed, even then. And He would not have come down, because it was what He came for.
And we would not be better, either, if we did not have the cross we have. Suffering, sadness, trials, circumstances are how we are being formed for eternity into a holy family. Our trials shape our souls every day. You’d almost think God wants us to learn diligence and patience ha ha. Yeah. Just like He says in His Word.
Now, when I feel the weight, the indignities, of my own crosses, I try to think of Him dragging His down the rough road clear out of town to His own certain agony, humiliation and death. Put up high on a hill for all to see.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him….I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him…. Phillippians 3:7-10