Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hearts Unbroken

Tim McGraw sings a song with the following lyrics:

No one ever left me out in the rain
Cold words still remain unspoken
And I never got lost, spent years in the dark
You're here, now my heart's unbroken

The song, sung to a lover, is about the restorative aspects of found happiness. The pain of the past is melted away in the overwhelming goodness of the current joy. The good of today wipes away the tears of yesterday.

While each of us may wish for a love like that, I'm not entirely convinced it exists and the weird thing is, I think that's a good thing. I have a friend who thinks everyone should have the heart broken at least once - it helps them appreciate future love. I tend to agree with her. But that's not the only reason I think a heart unbroken would be less-than-ideal. A heart unbroken is a heart that's never sacrificed, that's never grieved, that's never bled. A heart unbroken is a heart that has never wept for another, who's never known grace, who is mindful of only its seeming completeness. We tend to justify pain as the force to give us the ability to recognize good, but pain in its own right has benefits. It shows us that we are human, that we are fragile and that this life is incomplete. Just as physical pain warms us when we are causing ourselves are, emotional pain should give us heed. It helps us recognize what's bad, as well as appreciate the good. Not only does it tell us that there are better things ahead, it demonstrates that this life isn't it.

A broken heart is never fun but it is instructive. A heart unbroken would just never know it.


Good God, Bad World

In what many what deem coincidence (and others would call God's providence), I have had the opportunity to recently talk with several different people on how a good God could allow such a bad world. If you think about it for even a half a second, it doesn't make sense. The world is categorically unfair - the innocent are abused, justice is neglected, and good is repaid with evil, and If the world made any sense, none of these would be true. And yet time and time again, bad things are perpetrated against those who least deserve it.

The truth of the matter is that there is no easy way to explain this. The part of us that says "This should not be" is the part of us that is echoing God's heart. I believe that we will never fully grasp why things are the way they are as long as we are on this side of heaven. Some people aren't comfortable with that - they think everything must be explained - but I don't. I don't understand gravity but I totally believe in its impact on my life. It's similar with some things of faith; I don't understand why they are the way they are, I just know them to be true. Secondly, I think that we tend to view these situations in one of two ways: we think either God should have prevented them or we think God caused them. When we frustrated because God doesn't stop bad things from happening, we forget that bad things happen for two reasons - 1) as consequences of sin or 2) because we live in a fallen world. In the first category, when we choose to go against God's directives in our lives, I think its unfair of us to complain about suffering the consequences. I think this is a more difficult argument to make when we suffer because other people choose not to follow God's directives in their lives, but I think the principle still holds. My best analogy is my parents. I know that they love me and that there are times that they could have probably stopped me from suffering because other people were treating me badly - but they recognized that part of the growing process is dealing with the fact that other people aren't perfect. In the same way - God could prevent us from suffering from other people's sins, but a lot of time He doesn't because sin begets consequences. That's the natural order of things. The more amazing thing is that sometimes He does spare us the consequences. The fact that He doesn't always doesn't detract from His love; the fact that He sometimes does is evidence of it.

The second category of bad things - the things like Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami - those are even more difficult. Presumably no sin caused those things to happen. That's when I just have to chalk it up to the fact that we live in a fallen world and that things aren't always as God intended them. He's promised that they will be someday, but they aren't here. In this category - I kind of think of God like the CIA. The only time He makes the news is when He doesn't prevent something. How many times through His grace as He stopped bad things from happening and we just aren't aware of them? I don't understand why He doesn't always - why people have to suffer through no one's choice - but, again, there's lots that I don't understand. But I do believe that through His providence He can redeem even the most horrendous circumstance, if we let Him.

God's world isn't the way it should be, but one day, it will be. When that happens all "faith will be made sight" and we'll realize His mercy even in our pain.

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Better Things Ahead: October 2007

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Better Things Ahead