I stopped by my local Walmart today to pick up necessities like creamer for my coffee, coffee for my creamer, chips and peanuts (because there is actually protein in them – you know, something good for you). I looked for bing cherries and plums which sadly could not be found ANYWHERE! And I bought frozen pizza because I needed to make dinner tonight. . . and I just don’t do that anymore.
I remember thinking that I need to relearn how to make dinner everyday. I know, it sounds crazy doesn’t it? But when life falls apart – it really falls apart in ways others just can’t fathom. I’m not really sure how it happened – or even when it happened – but I have lost my way in so many ways that it’s just completely bewildering to me.
And then I saw her. A beautiful young teen, completely bald, with a germ prevention mask . . . Cancer. . . it’s such an ugly, devastating and frightening word. She looked completely healthy, even happy. . . but my heart hurt . . . for her . . . for her family.
As luck would have it (or divine assignment more likely) we had parked next to each other. The young woman climbed into the car while her mother unloaded their groceries into the trunk. I commented to her about the beautiful weather as we both went about filling our vehicles with the must haves and the I just wants that filled our Walmart bags. But, I really wanted to say more. To speak of things far more important than a beautiful day.
I just didn’t know how.
I wanted to tap the sticker on my van door. The one with the wheelchair icon that reminds others to give me plenty of room when they park beside me. I wanted to say, “You are not alone. I understand what living with deep depths of fear feels like.”
I wanted to tell her that she is a warrior . . . a brave, brave woman in this broken world. I wanted to tell her that I had prayed for her daughter – for her as I pushed my cart out to the car. I wanted her to know that there are others out there putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing, holding it together as best they can and trusting the Lord in spite of being terrified at what He might allow to come to pass in their lives.
I just wanted to let her know that I understand her – who she is deep down in her soul, in ways only those who have lost, or live in constant fear of loss, can possibly understand.
But I didn’t.
I just didn’t know how. And I hate that.
She seemed so together, and yet I wonder if she is really just good (far too experienced) at putting her game face on – for her daughter and for the world at large.
The greatest of these is love . . . was written across the back of her purple t-shirt.
That there is her strength on days she feels all too weak.
The love of God – holding her up – carrying her through.
I wish I had spoken up.
I wish I knew how.
I wish I could have helped her to feel just a bit less alone. A bit less afraid. A bit more fortified for whatever else the day, week, month, and year might hold in store for her.
And as I exited the parking lot the tears began to flow for that mother – for her child – for innocence lost – naïveté forfeited to rogue cells multiplying and hiding until the destruction they wreck could no longer be hidden and the world as she knew it began to crumble beneath her feet.
I cry for the brokenness around me. Everywhere I go I see brokenness like flashing neon signs.
How can God stand to look upon it – to be unable to overlook it or ignore it. How can He stand to hear the unrelenting cries of fear and sorrow that must surely rise up from the hearts of His creation every minute, every hour . . . Every day?
Does He endure like Christ did on the cross for the joy set before Him?
Is He fortified by the joy of the presence of the saints who have already joined Him before the throne of grace?
What does a day in the life look like for God? It is beyond my ability to comprehend.
The birth of a newborn baby, the salvation of a lost soul, a life destroyed by drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, and all manner of evil, welcoming a saint into their eternal home. . .
All in a days work.
Maybe God longs for that day . . . the day after judgment day . . . the day after evil has been defeated and the saints gather around His throne . . . more than we ever could.
If the whole world is in His hands, the full weight of the world also rests squarely on His shoulders. Have we ever stopped to consider the cost of His long suffering love for creation? It’s higher, much higher, than the price of watching His sinless son die on the cross.
What does it cost to love so much that you endure because you are not willing for any to perish?
“The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” ~ 2 Peter 3:9 AMP
Sin entered the world and with it death and disease and unquenchable evil as Satan seeks to destroy that which he cannot conquer. And in the meantime, God works out countless stories of redemption in broken hearts and lives. And if Jesus did only that which He saw His Father do (John 5:19*) then how many oceans are filled with the tears of God (John 11:35*) while He lovingly catches every tear we cry (Psalm 56:8*) and keeps them in a bottle?
He never asks us to weep for Him, but He does for us and every tear we cry is precious in His sight.
What kind of love is that?
One beyond my ability to comprehend. (Jeremiah 31:3*)
I dare say I did not cry alone as I left the Walmart parking lot today. No, I’m pretty sure God the Father weeps for that beautiful young teen as chemo and radiation wreck havoc upon her body in an attempt to destroy the cancer cells before they destroy her. And I’m fairly certain He weeps for her mother as she puts one foot in front of the other as she fearfully walks her daughter through treatment. I even think God weeps for my lost and bewildered self as I struggle to regain my footing after the loss of my girls and in the face of the degenerative disease that is slowly and systematically doing its best to take the only child I have left from me.
He sees. He hears. He protects and provides. He weeps.
“So Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” ~ John 5:19 Berean Study Bible
“Jesus wept.” ~ John 11:35 Berean Study Bible
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” ~ Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
“The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3 ESV