Several months ago, my husband suffered a very unexpected and critical heart attack. It was the type of attack called a “widow maker,” with 100% blockage of blood flow to his heart. My husband is very active physically and is a lifelong vegetarian, but genes are a difficult thing to battle. Thanks to the skill and response of a determined heart team, he survived and, according to his doctor, should live a good, long life. We have been assured by his medical team that his being alive should be categorized as a miracle.
Rachel Held Evans was an insightful and inspirational faith leader. She lifted high the holiness and essential grace of Jesus while challenging the status quo of religious thought and culture. This warrior for Christ was a faithful wife and a mother to a 3-year-old boy and a girl about to turn 1. During treatment for an infection, Rachel began experiencing brain seizures and was placed in a medically induced coma. Prayers for healing were raised around the world, but there was no miracle, and a month later she was dead. Rachel was 37.
During my husband’s recovery, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and prayers as well as the selfless acts provided for our family. When those we love are spared from tragedy or disaster, we rightfully fall to our knees in thankfulness to God for his protection and care. We all know people who have miraculously survived when the odds were against them, and we also are aware of others whose devastating passing takes our breath away. How do I, as a Christian, navigate this dichotomy?
For me personally, I have concluded that sometimes there are no answers. We may want to see things as part of some great plan, but sometimes there’s just chaos. It is in those times that I need to take inventory of the things of which I am sure.
I am sure a sovereign God of unsurpassed power and limitless perfection created all things.
I am sure sin, suffering, and death were not God’s intention.
I am sure that God has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout the ages, and that is why Jesus, who is fully God, became a man so we could finally see God clearly represented.
I am sure Jesus shows me a God of unconditional love, unreserved acceptance, and absolute grace.
I am sure that, because of Jesus, one day every person who longs to spend eternity with this God will have their heart’s desire.
Finally, I am extremely sure that I am not the intellectual, physical, or spiritual equivalent of God and, therefore, cannot fully comprehend all things.
I also understand that life in this world is not the way it was meant to be and is not the way it will always be, but this is the way things are right now.
Sometimes it feels like I'm watching from the outside.
Sometimes it feels like I'm breathing, but am I alive?
I won't keep searching for answers that aren't here to find.
So when the walls come falling down on me,
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea,
I have this blessed assurance holding me.
All I know is I'm not home yet;
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.*
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I believe these words from Jeremiah 29:11 are God’s plan – and His promise. I believe that God mourns with us because what He created as perfection and beauty has been taken over by heartbreak and ugliness. I believe that Jesus is my brother, my friend, my Savior, and my God. I believe that my faith right now is like “looking through a glass darkly,” but some day it will all be made clear.
I realize some may see this as blind faith, a Pollyanna worldview, and naïve ignorance. I only hope and pray that my time on this broken planet will prove just the opposite – that my faith is bold, my worldview is hopeful, and my reason is born from a solid relationship with a holy, merciful, and sovereign God.
So, I will live in this world, and I will embrace those who walk it with me and the journey set before me, but I know we were all created for so much more.
Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong.
*Where I Belong, Building 429, lyrics