“…and we’ll sing ‘Hallelujah’ and suffer.”-Levi the Poet
Today is an interesting day for me.
It is my 22nd birthday. It has also been 7 months since I lost my friend Jordan. It’s one of those days on which celebration eludes me, yet somehow I am held afloat by the joy I have in Christ. The crushing weight of grief doesn’t overwhelm me like it once did, but the subtle hint of numbness in my spirit is still there, counterbalanced by an overwhelming peace and sense of joy that I haven’t experienced before and I am still, 7 months later, feeling contrary emotions all at once and not knowing what to do with it but embrace the reality that God is in the midst of that pain and that joy.
I am currently reading a book by Tullian Tchividjian called “Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free.” In it, he says this:
“So what would a God who was present in suffering look like? First and foremost, He would be a God who suffers Himself. Maybe even dies. A God who meets people in their suffering, rather than on the other side of it. Pain might even be one of his primary avenues for reaching people.”
These past seven months, no…these past 22 years of my life, God has been teaching me to trust Him. There is a lot of peace in the midst of the storm, and there is so much turmoil. But God is present. It’s something I’ve had to remind myself of over and over and over, but I don’t regret it. Neither can I regret the pain it took to get here. Every single time I sat in a puddle of my own tears at the travesty I believed God had committed against Jordan’s family and his friends and all those who loved him. Every single time I sat, smiling at my own goodness and admiring my own self-deluded fantasy of myself as a stand-up Christian guy. Every time I betrayed that veneer by indulging in my own sinful nature and lustful appetite, believing no one could see me behind the safety of my own computer. Every time I left my Bible to gather dust and stood up in front of the crowds talking about a Gospel I didn’t know, God was there….all those times, I see the hand of my Maker, moving the pieces into place to ruin my own self-worth and force me to look deeper for something more than myself.
I cannot live for something as small as myself. I cannot live for something as inanimate as a mirror. I cannot live a life to glorify my own agenda. But in 22 years of life, in 22 years of failed attempts to glorify God and live devoted to Christ…I have learned that this life is not about my effort. If it was, I would be doomed. It is about the redemption that was paid for me. It is about Jesus, who humbled Himself, who gave Himself over to death to defeat it! I deserved Hell, but I got Heaven. I deserved condemnation, but I got salvation. It was for all of us that Jesus died, so we could have life.
So as I reflect as my own life, I reflect on the life of my friend who I miss dearly, and I reflect on the life that was poured out for me. I reflect on suffering not to bask in it, but to understand myself that suffering will be put to death in the end when our beautiful Savior returns to take us home. And that day is coming. Tomorrow is coming. And when it does, we will finally be free.