If you talk to anyone who’s involved in a huge tragedy, you can’t say those cute cliches like “Pain forces you to grow” or “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” It sounds hollow and stupid, and I would slap myself in the face if I said those things too.
I believe more and more that not every pain has a lesson. I think sometimes that pain is just pain, that life can be a mystery, and it’s all part of our weird wild crazy human experience. Pain is part of being human. We don’t need to spiritualize everything. We don’t need to wrap things up with a bowtie. Sometimes there is unresolved tension and we need to let it bleed.
However, here’s why I believe in the Christian faith.
I believe in Jesus because his life means God actually showed solidarity with us in our pain. I know that doesn’t solve pain right now. But when I’m hurting, I don’t need a lecture or a connect-the-dots-theology. What I need is a friend who will stay with me side by side and hear my venting, embrace my shaking, love me through my slobbery flailing mess. I need a presence who both understands my pain but is just enough above it to lead me through it.
And if I believe the narrative of Jesus, then we have both a person who has been through what I’ve been through and a divine presence who can help pull me through the worst of it. Jesus on a cross showed an unresolved tension that bled — but Jesus out of a tomb showed there really is a bowtie to this whole thing, a far-off nearly imperceptible light at the end of this tunnel.
Maybe we will find out the “reasons” one day for why everything happened. Maybe they will satisfy us, or not. But by then, the answers probably won’t matter anymore. Because we’ll be face to face with the God who was with us all along, the only one who never left us in our mess and who truly understood us as we are, venting and angry and hurting and all, and we’ll find out He really did love us despite us, and He suffered infinitely more than we could ever bear to face on our own.
I hold onto this hope. It feels foolish some days: but on those days, it’s all I have and all I need.