It was a rough day. I had a conversation with a friend that centered on two other young women who have cancer. No, the cancer wasn’t the center of the conversation – God was. Sometimes things are said by those who mean well that make God into an unlovable, horrible, callous brute.
Then, there were some family issues that were tinged with frustration and sadness at situations that didn’t need to be as difficult as they actually are. Some systems intended to keep organizations running smoothly neglect to factor in human intentions, emotions or compassion. Yet, we must somehow navigate those systems to the best of our ability without loosing hope.
The final blow was the bird. It flew directly into my picture window, leaving some of those soft, belly feathers behind. I looked out and saw the poor thing laying in the dirt. If birds could pant, it was panting. One little leg was curled in…the other stretched out and twitching. I didn’t know how to help it. I wanted to walk away, but couldn’t keep from looking back. It’s feeble, trembling breast seemed to be slowing down – indicating to me that that last of it’s life was slowly leaving that little body. The bird was a robin – to anyone who has lived through a Minnesota winter, the first robin of the spring is a symbol of hope – signifying that winter will loosen it’s mighty grip and warm weather will be a reality. Hope was dying in a pile of dirt in my front yard.
That’s when I lost it and let the tears that had been building all day flow. Where is God when these things happen? Does God cry, too? Does God feel the pain of families going through devastating illness? Does God see the futility of bureaucracies that have become more important than those they were designed to protect? Does God loose it when one of his beautiful creatures lies dying in the dirt? Couldn’t God just breathe life back into it? Or touch it like the Gospel of Thomas says the boy Jesus did, bringing it back to life? (Okay, the Gospel of Thomas is a conversation for another day – – but, I couldn’t help to think about it’s story as my little friend lay there gasping.)
I needed one more look at the bird for assurance that it was finally out of pain. That amazing thing was – it was gone! No, nothing could have ‘gotten’ it. It fell behind a short, brick wall where it was protected from predators. Besides, this was a span of about 5 minutes! It had recovered from it’s trauma – most likely it was temporary shock from having the wind knocked out of it. Apparently, it was once again going about life as a bird. Okay, a bird with a very bad headache and some stiff joints. But, none the less, it was alive!
How often do we feel like God has abandoned us? Things happen, young mom’s get cancer, situations sap our optimism and energy, birds fly into windows and hope seems to be dying. Yet, if we give God a bit of time; some trust; and the opportunity to do what God does best, we will find that God is working in and through all situations. Sometimes we simply need to look in God’s direction and pant a feeble, ‘Help’. Sometimes we need to look at a another’s pain and recognize where and how we can ease their load. Sometimes – sometimes we need to breathe deeply, stop ranting and know that God is present…even if we have to look long and hard to see God’s at work.
I guess that’s what it means to surrender it all to God.