The other day I ran into a friend, in the middle of a public setting, and a comment was said for which I did not respond. Not because I didn’t want to, not because I didn’t hear it, and not because I didn’t care, but because I didn’t know how to have that conversation under an umbrella, at a football game, in the middle of a mingle. The comment was heavy, deep, personal and highly influential in how my friend perceives God.
The comment from a painstaking journey of grief and loss was capsulated in one statement, “God chose not to bless us.”
I am not sure what I did in that moment. I think I held eye contact, trying to demonstrate how deeply I cared, while trying not to allow the outside of me to demonstrate what was happening inside me. I have not specifically walked the path these friends have walked. What right do I have to respond? But then, it’s *my God* for which they are referencing a pretty intense accusation or maybe even a statement of fact from their interpretation and I want to be physically sick, in that moment. I feel the deep pain of that statement, wondering how I respond, how they have fully landed on that conclusion, and if what they believe is really the truth of our mutual faith.
Are they really going to pound their stake into this hard ground?
All I think about is how I feel like I’m the wrong person, for the life in front of me, but God is making me the right person. If He can address my belief, I’m confident He can run head-on to their belief, in spite of the long, treacherous path their circumstance has called them to walk.
Does God saying ‘No’ constitute as a non-blessing? I look up the definition.
Blessing = God’s favor and protection
And then to the opposite of blessing, which drops a long list, including two extremely painful words: rejection and refusal.
Wow, no wonder they feel “God chose not to bless us,” as the answers to their prayers have been ‘refusal’ which most certainly must feel like ‘rejection.’
What if there is more? More for my friends and more for all the people struggling with some big ask, the deepest heart desire, the perceived right answer which constantly ends with another ‘no.’
My friend had the courage to voice what I believe thousands of people feel. What is our role in responding to a heart level cry?
I think about Job’s friends, during the front days of their visit, when they got it right with the gift of presence. Did my presence, standing there, get it right?
Or was my friend waiting for me to speak life, hope or peace over obvious loneliness, brokenness and disappointment?
What if ‘no’ is not actually synonymous for rejection? What if ‘no’ is God choosing to bless us? What if God’s favor and protection is giving us the opposite of what we want?
I’m pretty sure every scripture I could have shared would have felt like empty platitudes to the moment. I felt a deep urge to love. To love outside my capacity, outside my line of thinking, and outside the confounds of my belief system. I don’t need to figure out the truth of the statement to process the sorrow behind the statement.
And what I know about God’s love for me is He meets me in my pain. He comforts me. He sustains me. My pain looks different, but pain is not isolating, it’s universal. We all know what ‘no’ feels like and loneliness, rejection, fear, frustration, discouragement, anger. No one is on an island.
If we went on a debate of blessing, we could all say God blessed me here, but not there. But in the context of blessing, do we not immediately think of what we get versus what we don’t get?
God is bigger than a “get.” God’s blessing is bigger than a “got.”
In the same conversation, my friend explained the gift of knowing Jesus from a young age and how their faith in God had sustained them through the continued path of pain. Identification of one of the greatest blessings, our eternal salvation, was brought forth in the very discussion of a firm thinking of “God chose not to bless us.”
What if blessing is different than we perceive from our finite minds? What if the very statement of “God chose not to bless us,” is a limited thinking of who He is, His ultimate purpose for our life, and His protection over what we cannot see.
My life has given hard hits too, ways where I could similarly communicate, “God chose not to bless us,” but through God’s grace upon grace, He has held me with the blessing of hope, endurance, and courage.
He is giving me eyes to see the greater story, in spite of public opinion, research, or a million different perspectives. And I want all my friends to see past the limitations of a Sunday service, a small group, a counseling session, or a nature hike. Though all may play a role in encouraging us, nothing solely defines us, except the intimacy of a daily encounter with Jesus. Jesus meets us in the middle of our thinking, no matter if it’s aligning to Him or off base.
Pain and grief develop courage. For me, courage has been a necessary attribute I’ve needed to survive my life which makes my brain understand the blessing. The blessing of hurt makes me want to meet someone where they are because I know where I’ve been.
If I could have found my words, I would have told my friend, “here, let me squat down in this wet dirt, and hold your stake, while you pound the mess out of it, of what you feel right now, and let’s get the stake firmly in the ground. Then, you come back to this stake, alone, and meet with Jesus about your belief. You’ve been vulnerable and you’ve acknowledged it, owned it and claimed it. Go there with Jesus as nothing is too big for Him. If it’s valid, He will help you shore it up, and if it’s wrong, He will help you pull it up. But right now, let me hold your pain with you.”
No thinking is too hard for Jesus.