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Thursday, August 8, 2013

When Life Falls Apart

What do you do when your life seems to come to a dead stop?

There can be any number of causes - a career or a relationship can suddenly end, or your health can change to make everything you enjoyed before inaccessible.

The feel-good authors will tell you to get back up and dust yourself off.

After all, it doesn't matter how many times you fall, it only matters how many times you get up.

Sincere Christians will tell you to trust that God has something better just waiting for you, and that you should trust His wisdom and providence.

Well, okay.

The thing is, when your life's been battered into unrecognizable fragments, getting back up can be pretty unappealing. Why bother, if you've been pink-slipped at 55, or your husband's gone to Acapulco with his secretary. His male secretary.

Sure, you have value that transcends what people may do...but at those moments, just try to believe it. You can't. (Or, anyway, I sure can't.)

And yes, God cares, but it seems pretty abstract. When you're afraid to get the mail because, what can it be but bad news? - it can feel like you're at the wrong end of God's bowling alley.

Pretty hard to 'count it all joy' when, Hello! - here comes another 16-lb ball. And God don't throw no gutterballs.


So what do you do? Shrivel up in a ball like a spider in a propane flame?

You can, but first, think about someone else whose life went horribly wrong. Or should I say, Someone else.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowds threw palm fronds on the road in front of Him. When he left, on the way to Golgotha, the same people were throwing rocks.

Could He pick himself up, dust Himself off? He probably could have, being God and all, but He didn't. It wasn't what He came for.

And do you believe for a minute that He counted it all joy? That the Via Dolorosa was kind of like a stroll down Rodeo Drive with an uncapped Visa card?

Good. Neither do I.

Jesus had to do one thing. He had to take it. All of it. He had to take the hurt and the humiliation, the sorrow and the suffering. He had to live the full measure of those things - and he had to complete the experience in a feeling of abandonment. "Why have You forsaken me?"

Modern preachers like to say that Jesus didn't really feel abandoned by God. He felt that the sin he was carrying for humanity was abandoned.

What a load of hooey. The guy was being tortured to death. He was hurting. He wasn';t splitting theological hairs.

And in the end, He rose from the dead, to a greater glory than anyone imagined.

But he had to be DEAD first!

When you're hurting, live with it. Don't let people make you feel bad because it hurts, and you can't get over it yet. Don't think that you're not a good Christian because you can't walk out whistling a happy tune.

Sit and bleed awhile. You'll be in good Company, and eventually, if you take His hand, that Company will pull you back onto your feet.


  1. "But He had to be DEAD first".


    I'm so glad He gets it.

    1. I think that's one of the dichotomies between Christ and Christianity. Christ GETS it.

      A lot of Christians want to make our faith a feel-good religion, concentrating on signs, wonders, and miracles - and neglecting the essential comfort that is at its core. That there are strong Arms that will pull us out of Hell, no matter how deeply we're mired.

      But to be pulled out, we have to know that we're there, first.

      As He did.

  2. Andrew,
    I think one of the worst things we can do to each other is give pat answers when things fall apart. And the best thing is just to BE. Be here. Be silent. Be steady. Be Be ready...to hug, to cry, to hold someone up, and yes, to bleed right along with you.... You get my drift. Isn't this what Christ intended when He said we were to be ONE body? Not that we would stand separate, and pat each other on the head, but that we would be strong when another is weak, that we would be solid, when another is shattered, that we would learn to lean into each other, that we would be CHRIST to each other. I know that's "shaky" theology, but I think you know what I'm trying to say.


    1. I don't think it's shaky theology at all. I think you have the story of the Gospels, and particularly John 3:16, bang on.

      The shakiness comes from years or reinterpretation, particularly in recent times. A lot of prominent theologians and preachers have taken Scripture out of context, and have set up a comfortable framework that attracts people in good times, but that is ultimately unfaithful to Jesus' path from His trial to His rising.

      The really bad thing is that 'modern Christianity - or Christ Lite? - is that it doesn't address the reality of pain that can't be taken away by a prayer, or trials that end in death. And that's where it becomes something of a Betrayal of the Great Commission. We LOSE people that way.

      Thanks for stopping in - youir comment was a great addition!