On Goodness & Grief

After a few days of concentrated time at home–
After I confessed my own flippancy from the prior weeks–
After I began to accept that my paid work would be completed (or not) around Amelia’s day–
After I realized that grocery runs needed to be strategic–

I noticed the conflict.

It feels strange to taste and see the apparent goodness of this season–
slow morning coffee
afternoon walks
ears finely-tuned to discern Amelia’s constantly changing chatter
reevaluating pace and priority
so many chocolate chip cookies–
and then remember the undercurrent of suffering. I am home and healthy, cooking and thinking, conversing and slowing.

But all over the world and in my city, people are sick and dying, medical workers are isolated from their families, kids are hungry, moms are tired, business owners are overwhelmed, and everyone is wondering, “How long?”

All along, the plan was for our church to move out of our building in April to prepare for the construction of a new facility in May. Once the Governor announced the stay-at-home mandate, the leadership decided to move out within 36 hours (while practicing social distancing with an extremely limited number of volunteers). Demolition is still happening–and on schedule. But my pastor’s words resonated far beyond the context of a new church home:

“I think the best description is that it feels a bit like a tug-of-war  (a tautness or counterbalance, a tension) between urgency and rest, between the necessity of moving and the mandate of ‘staying,’ between the swiftness of dismantling and the long pace of reconstructing.”

God’s sovereignty and the world’s suffering is not a novel theological discussion, although it is a consistently challenging and idol-busting one. Christians want to know what God is up to amidst coronavirus, believing that He is kind and brings forth good even in the worst situations. But we still hear the song of lament and are called to sing it, too. 
 We see the both/and nature of things all over the place.
The good and the hard. 
The normal and the foreign. 
That’s usually the case.
Maybe we’re more sensitive to it now. 

Like the pink dogwood blooming on a gray, 40-degree day.
Like my friend celebrating the spiritual life of her son while grieving the imminent physical death of her grandmother.
Like the grocery store greeter naming me “36” as I head toward the carrots.
Like newborn babies and private weddings and waving to nieces behind glass.
Like a crowded Chick-fil-A drive-through with teenage attendants wearing masks.

Isn’t it weird that even now, I can still get a #1 with half-and-half tea?

As I can, I want to keep my hands open, palms up to receive all this. 
To name the graces.
To pray for the suffering.
All the while believing He is who He says He is.

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