You’ve felt it every time a story has a happy ending.
It’s the feeling you get when you walk out of a store with the right shoes in the right size and the right color–for 50% off.
It’s the ice cream to your apple pie.
It’s the exhale to your pranayama (yoga breathing).
It’s when a scripture leaps out at you from the pages of your Bible, lassos your heart, captures your mind, and reveals its truth over and over again in the most unexpected ways.
You’ve felt it every time a song ends on just the right note. What that note is you have no clue (C#? E♭?), but you feel it. It rings in your head and in your gut. It tells you this is right. It’s complete. It’s resolved.
It’s a sharp contrast from the feeling of dissonance.
It’s how you feel when “To Be Continued” flashes across your TV screen. It’s the feeling you get when there’s no ketchup for your fries. It’s when the love interests on-screen never kiss. When the song ends and you feel like “where’s the rest?” When you feel ripped off, cheated.
It’s what you feel when your marriage doesn’t go the way you dreamed, when your kids don’t turn out the way you planned, and your whole life feels like you are missing something.
Like God left you hanging.
That’s how Eve felt. And she had it all—an organic garden to make a vegan envious, a hottie for a hubby without a female competitor in sight, and no worries about fitting into her size 5 jeans after a night of overdoing it on the dessert.
But the serpent knew what she wanted.
He planted the seed of doubt. Of discontent. Of dissonance. Of believing that God was holding out on her.
And it worked like a charm.
I hate conflict. I’m so impatient to make it right. I hate waiting for things to work themselves out. I want everything in books, on TV, and in my life to wrap up with a nice big, red bow.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the throes of Stravinsky’s Firebird. The drums beating me like mallets. The frenzy and intensity of the sharps and flats rake against me. Like I’m in the orchestra pit and the musicians are standing over me driving their horns, their bows, and their strings down, down, down on me.
And just when I think it’s coming to a climax, when the hero should sweep in and save the day, plunging the music into a melody of majors, it ends on a single minor note, leaving me with my breath stuck in my chest like a splinter in the eye. Like a knife in my chest.
That’s when Satan comes and whispers, “He’s holding out on you.”
And I must—oh, I must—see the cross.
See God weeping.
Feel the creation heaving.
Hear Jesus’ resolving, “It is finished.”
Then whisper back to the villain, “No. No. He gave it all.”
Untill you give everything you value to God and you get left hanging, for decades. no job restoration, no abraham receiving his son back, just left there in pain.
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.
I can’t pretend to know your story or your pain (“Each heart knows its own bitterness and no one else can share its joy” – Proverbs 14:10). All I can do is point you back to where I find comfort and my faith restored again and again–God’s Word.
Joseph was sold by his own family into slavery and “left hanging” for more than 13 years–in prison (Genesis 37,39-41) Job lost everything–his wealth, his health, all his children–but a grieving wife who encouraged him to curse God and die. David was promised a throne and then sent wandering in the wilderness with a host of foul-mouthed soldiers-of-fortune for almost 20 years (1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 2). Abraham had to wait more than 25 years for the child God promised him (Gen 15,21). The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before God led them into the Promised Land–and Moses wasn’t allowed to go (Exodus 34). God “abandoned” Jesus on the cross and delivered him to one of the most horrific deaths invented by men (the Gospels).
There are so many just between the pages of his Word who share your pain and much more (Hebrews 11). My favorite passage that I return to over and over again is Romans 8:28-39 where we are reminded that if God would give up his most precious thing for us, his Son (himself in the flesh), is there anything else he will hold back?
I’m sure we could exchange life scars like a couple of old soldiers, but I could never know your pain, nor you mine. But God does and he is not unmindful of it. I pray that in the midst of your anguish, you will put your hope and faith in the cross.
Thanks, Wayne. I think we can all relate to this in some way or another.
When God holds out on us, I remember the last words of Christ’s prayer lesson in Luke 18 – about the widow who did not get discouraged. “Will God find faith on the earth when he returns?” http://bible.cc/luke/18-8.htm
It’s true. Do we really believe what we say we believe? It’s very challenging.