So I got a call from my dad today.
Many of you know he had prostate cancer several years ago and has been in remission since. His PSA levels were up and it looked like things had returned. After a battery of tests, he's all clear. Just needs injections every few months.
I love good news. It's fun. It's. . .good.
And we prayed that he would be ok. That his cancer would not have returned. We asked the Lord for this and He granted it.
But God is not required to tell me "yes." He is not a yes man. He is God. And yet I have to tell you, bad news is still . . .bad. We prayed for years that the Lord would make Robert, Jenny's dad, walk again. He never did. Robert went home to glory last November. And he's walking now. But the Lord wasn't tricking us. He wasn't telling us, "Aha! I was going to make Rob walk in heaven but you wanted him to walk now. See who's bigger? See who's God? I answered your prayer. Just not how you wanted it."
God is not like that. Simply, though asked through tears of petition, He told us, "No, my child." and He did it over and over. I mean we begged Him to heal Robert here in this life. And God told us no.
How do I react when I ask God to take my father's cancer away and He doesn't? Is that news still fun? No. Of course not. How horrid to enjoy the suffering of the fall. But God is not simply the Lord of good news. He is the Author of the Good News. And that Good News makes all the difference. When the Lord took Rob home, the grief was bearable because we will indeed see him again. He had passed from life to eternal life. From agony to glory.
See, God's goodness is not dependent upon my perception of reality. He is good and He does good. My ability to understand Him is irrelevant to His being. He has invited me to walk with Him, to love Him and be loved by Him forever. He has invited me to join Him in His redemptive work. But that includes suffering. It includes pain and heartache and doubts.
Though impenetrable the mystery of the Incarnation, I have in it a picture of a man fully dependent upon God. I am to walk with Christ as He walked with His Father. His time here on earth was not an easy one. How silly that I expect mine to be. How evil of me to think that God would make life hard for me to tickle some perversion. Or to think that He wants merely to dominate me and make me small. If He wanted to do that I could not combat Him. If He desired slaves, slaves He would have.
But He created children in His image, not to rule but to love. Truly He rules us, but He does so in love. And in the context of a relationship. He is at once King and Shepherd. Warrior and Lover. Servant and Lord of all. And He has invited me - invited us all- to join Him in the journey he has for us. A journey filled with joy and sorrow, battle and peace, exhaustion and rest. He has invited us to share this journey. Oh, that I continue in it, no matter what news comes on the phone.