It’s quiet outside now. She lets down the black shades and twists them shut, but keeps the window cracked open so she can hear. She flicks on the light above the stove, and starts cooking. First, it’s beef chili, with lots of cumin. While she’s cooking the meat and onions, she starts a pot of water for boiling strips of cotton. Once boiled, she will make them into test strips for her dyeing experiment. This time, she’s using blueberries, and hoping the color will turn out to be a beautiful, strong blue. She settles down to stirring pots, sipping on wine, watching Friends, and checking her phone.
Life’s been wild. If it is not enough to have a crazy virus seeping through your land, closing businesses and churches and keeping you from the people you love most, there is the terror of murder and rioting and wild men and women. If not that, then there is the burden of your own soul, watching all of this mess and wondering where you stand in it, and if you ought to be standing or if you should be apologizing for even being alive. If not that, then there is the news of so called “Christians” abandoning the faith. Why? There were too many unanswered questions, they say. Too many doubts. I just can’t reconcile the God of the Bible with the evil in the world, they say. At least they’re honest. You sit, wherever you are, biting your nails (if you still have nails left) and wondering what is the next shock the world will experience. What is the next evil that will come?
Yesterday, she drove with white knuckles from Grandmother’s house, hoping to get home without being stopped by police, driving past people with signs that said “Shame on Police” while the fear grew in her chest and crept up her neck as if to strangle her. She hates all of this evil and sorrow. But she mostly hates that she is afraid. She wishes she could go on, not caring and not feeling, and put to death the horrible fear that threatens to toss her headlong into rocks of doom. “You are my refuge and strength” she whispers as she flies past trucks and cars on their way out of the cities. She doesn’t know if saying that will quell the loud voice of fear, but for now it is all she can do.
What do you do when the voice of fear laughs at you, knowing that it has you in its hand and almost in its teeth? What do you do when you doubt and want to ask copious boatloads of questions about God and existence and life and death and sorrow? Does God look upon those questions with a furrowed, disapproving frown, as if to indicate that asking questions is equal to unbelief? Do you hide that part of your life; put it on hold or stuff it in a closet? It will come out again, you know. Doubts always do. You can’t bury them, burn them, or belittle them out of existence. Once there, they will wrap around your life like a grape vine, getting stronger and larger until you take a stand or a stab at them.
She remembers the time she and her sister drove up north to go camping. While driving through ghost lands of pine and rock, she asked about the doubts. Did her sister ever have them? How does she live in them and with them? How does reasoning and emotion play into faith and life? Her sister said she has those doubts and questions too. But you have to be willing to wrestle with them, she said. No, don’t let ignorance be your scapegoat. Do not let a man tell you the quick and simple solution to your questions. Pray and read and wrestle with God, like Jacob did. Wrestle all night and keep wrestling. It is faith that keeps you wrestling; you know that an answer will be found in God, and in no other, so you wrestle to find the answers in Him and by Him.
We become fools when we let our own reasoning or emotions or what joe-from-instagram-stories says lead us away from God and to the diseased and bubbling slough of unbelief. Next to that slough stands the old, wickedly shaped tree of Eden with its glistening fruit and a voice that still says, “has God said?”
What, indeed, has God said? He says He has made the world and everything in it; He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations….He marked out their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. [He] did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being…we are His offspring.” 1
Why is the world the way it is? We should ask this in front of a mirror, watching ourselves eat the forbidden fruit, and there perhaps we will have answer enough. God, who made this world and us and everything perfect, has given us life and joy and all things good. Yet we think this is not enough and in our blind wandering, we let go of what is goodness itself and go stumbling about looking for answers. We take the fruit of unbelief and go crashing into stone walls and stumbling into weeds and thorns. We go on “making mud pies in a slum”2 because that is what we are now satisfied with. We dig holes for ourselves to hide in; towers for us to cower in. We gripe and growl and grow bitter. We are running to the arms of the enemy, and all this time, God is still there.
Would we reach out for Him and find Him? He is not far from any one of us.
[Footnotes: 1. Acts 17; 2. Quote by C.S. Lewis]