Because of Jimmy, this past week has taught me spiritual lessons that I pray I will never forget.
I rode my bicycle down to a quiet spot next to a big field where I like to have time in my Bible. I had been spiritually struggling for the past few days and weeks with the pervasive questions of "Why?" "God, what are You doing?" "God, I know You're in control, but why does it hurt like this?" More than maybe any time before, I felt so spiritually weak. It was like I was dangling off the end of the rope, not strong enough to even begin to pull myself back up.
As I sat down at the field, I cried out to God. I don't know if I was angry with God, but I can't say I was trusting Him fully. The only way I can think to describe the emotion is with the word, "why?" He led me to Psalms full of comfort, but I couldn't feel comforted. All I could think was, why, God, why?
God, I don't understand, I cried. I poured out my distress, a flood of turbulent thoughts thrown at Him. I felt like He was being silent when I needed Him most, that He had been silent for weeks. And it made me more desperate. I wanted Him to tell me something that would comfort me, or show me something that would somehow make everything okay. God, people say, "He knows our pain." Really? How can You? How can You understand what we are feeling, since You didn't lose Jimmy? You never have to say good-bye. Never say good-bye. So how can You know what this feels like?
Then, clearer than all of my cries and shouts, that still small voice whispered in my soul, I say thousands of good-byes every day.
My soul stood still. God had spoken. It was not what I had expected. But it was true. It was truth. And my eyes were opened to my God, His holiness, and His deep, deep love.
If I can feel so broken and torn about someone who impacted my life for just one week, how much pain does God feel as He watches thousands of those He created leave this life without loving Him? He created their inmost being and loved them enough to lay down everything for them, and yet says good-bye over and over and over again. My heart and mind aren't even big enough to comprehend the sorrow He feels. He really does know my pain. And so much more.
I read the end of the book of Job, after Job calls out to God through his suffering, asking God so many questions "why?" God answers Him, but probably not as Job expected. Reading those chapters brought me to realize that God is... God. He is holy. He is sovereign. And He is not subject to my feelings and emotions. Yet at the same time, He knows my deepest feelings, my every flinch of pain.
I still don't know fully what God has been teaching me in the past few days. What I do know is that it is leaving me changed. Today, nine weeks from the 31st, I am still struggling. It will be a long struggle for everyone. But I know that my God is great, my God is strong, and my God is near when I call.
And He really does know.