“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you. And it is well with me.”
Those are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “It is Well.” Lately they have been running through my head because, well, it there is a lot of heartbreak happening right now. I know that tragedy happens every day, but lately many of my closest friends and loved ones have been dealt some horrible blows and burdens.
And God is sovereign still.
When I was 16 years old, Justin (my older step-brother, who was 23 at the time) was killed in a motorcycle accident. After he died, my whole universe and everything I thought to be true kind of imploded. I had always thought that those far off “bad things” only happened to other people, and that as long as you prayed, lived a good life, did the right things, that somehow you and your family would be shielded from it all.
I was wrong.
After he died, I was faced with two choices: Believe in a god who really wanted to save me from heartbreak and pain and tears, but crazy cosmic forces kept him from intervening, and so he watched helplessly from the sidelines as my brother died. Or, believe in a God who absolutely is all-powerful, all mighty, created the universe, and absolutely could have kept Justin from dying, but for unknown reasons simply chose not to. I chose the small god.
I was wrong.
Honestly, I am more comfortable with the idea that God is unable to stop bad things from happening, instead of the truth that God is sovereign and that everything that happens, even tragedy and heartbreak, is under His control. To tell you the truth, sometimes I want answers.
I want to know why a two year old and a twenty-something year old have to die of brain cancer.
I want to know why people die in mass shootings.
I want to know why children are orphaned, die of starvation, are abused, neglected, abandoned.
And I’m not even getting started.
I want to know why. And I don’t know. I don’t have the answers and truthfully I’ll probably never know fully why.
The only thing I know for sure is that God is sovereign still.
Because a funny thing happens when I expect perfect order and fairness in an imperfect, broken world. I start looking for heaven on earth, and folks, it ain’t here. This place was never meant to be all that we hope for and yearn for. This is just a “pit stop” (as my mom calls it) and we expect it to be Disneyland. Through it all, however, we praise God and know that He’s in control even in the midst of our pain.
I can’t wrap this topic up with a bow because I don’t understand how or why things happen. Life is messy, and complicated, and heartbreaking, and we don’t know why.
I’m okay with that, because God is sovereign still.
So today, if I could go back and talk to my 16 year old self, I’d tell her to take heart, because tragedy and heartbreak don’t mean that God doesn’t love her. I would tell her that things don’t always make sense and to get ready, because this world will break your heart sometimes. I would tell her that God is with her and that God will never abandon her. Most of all, I would tell her to choose the Big God. Even though it’s hard. Because that God, the one who sent Jesus to die for our sins, that Big God is sovereign yesterday, today, and tomorrow and always. And He loves her more than she will ever know.