Comfort & Joy
“The point isn’t to protect us from all the bad sweetheart. Its to be with us through it.”
- Charlie, The Chronicle of the Three.
After a month of getting out of rhythm I found myself firing back away at the second book in my trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three. It may not make much sense to say this, but sometimes my characters surprise me. The story goes to places I hadn't initially planned. They say things that I hadn't thought they would say. Weird, I know but I guess its my process, to let my imagination be a little too real.
I have this character in the second book (possible spoiler alert) who I am quite fond of, a curmudgeonly old man. Mostly he's snark and support but then this scene came along. I had intended it to just be Zoe asking him a question. In a couple lines it led to a place I didn't have in my outline notes. It wasn't a major story change or even a life-changing revelation. Rather it was a quite moment, two sentences that gave you a glimpse into someone's past, pain and soul.
When Charlie's small reveal brought up a deeper question from Zoe, this was his response, "The point isn’t to protect us from all the bad sweetheart. Its to be with us through it.”
I bet you can guess Zoe's question. Its a question we ask when the world or our world hits a bump or sometimes a wall. Whay does God let bad things happen? If He's so good and so powerful then why not just stop the bad from ever happening?
These questions can take us on a theological rabbit trail discussing free will and all that goes with it. It can get really deep and sometimes confusing and convoluted. We want clean answers and sometimes they just aren't. That's where faith has to step in.
This season has seen ups and downs. Our nation and world has experienced tragedy and so have the lives of some people dear to me. We don't understand why things happen and we just want God to take the bad away, to protect us from it. But more often than not God wants to protect us through it.
Challenges breed character. They make us stronger. It says it in James 1:2-4.
"Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Pain, trials, troubles, testing, whatever you want to call those crappy things that happen, they are creating something stronger in your life. Something that will help get you where God has created you to go, to fulfill all that He has purposed in your life. They are the path to fulfillment.
But sometimes we can know that fact, we can even believe it, but we still don't like it because, well, pain hurts. We are crying and bleeding and scared and all the things that strike us when the bad happens. Its hard to have prescpective about the good of our future when you feel like you can't breath. Its hard to count it all joy.
Thats where the comfort comes in. To protect us through it, God walks with us. He doesn't disappear or abandon, He shelters.
When you find yourself in a point of conflict, or tragedy, when you can't seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel, remember that you are in the shelter of the most High. You are never alone. Trusting that comfort brings a renewed joy.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust....
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91)