Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Into the Dark Places

This week, we're talking about how we, as Christians, don't respond to hard things the same way that the world does, and we introduced the story of Jeroboam's wife yesterday. In 1 Kings 14, Jeroboam sends his wife to the prophet to find out what is going to happen with their child, and the prophet tells her that the child will die as soon as she sets foot back in her town. 

But she goes home anyway. 

She goes back home. She takes that step that she knows will seal her child's fate. She puts her foot down tenderly, but confidently, in the place in which she dwells, knowing that with her next step comes her child's last breath. And it's reasonable, maybe, to ask...why? Why would she do such a thing, knowing what she knows?

But it's exactly what she knows that enables, empowers, and encourages her to do that very thing. It's the fact that she knows that she's carrying a message from the Lord, that if she doesn't take that step back home, no one in her house will know what the Lord had to say about this. She knows that if she doesn't go, even if her child doesn't die, an entire household will wrestle forever with questions that she has the answer to, even if the answer is not what they wanted to hear. 

That is why we, as Christians, do the things that we do. It is why we step boldly into the dark places. It's why we're unafraid to go into the hard places. It's why we are able to take that next step toward a reality that we'd rather not embrace - not because we have resigned ourselves to disaster or because we're excited about God's judgment or because we believe it's inevitable and just want to get things over with, but simply because we know that the dark places have a lot of questions that we have the answer to, whether the answer seems satisfying to our soul right now or not. 

This world has questions that its own understanding is completely ill-equipped to answer. It has doubts about...everything. About God, yes, but about itself. About the things it thinks it understands about how things work. Anyone in Jeroboam's house could have looked at that child and known that death was imminent, but their own understanding was insufficient to respond to the deep ache of those torn between yearning and mourning. Only the prophet, only the Lord, could speak to that kind of ache. Only Jeroboam's wife knew the words He would say. 

Several years ago, I was seeing an oncologist for management of a medical condition. And on our first meeting, he talked about how persons of faith are usually the first ones to jump in and say, yes, run the test. Do the biopsy. Ask the questions. He said persons of faith are the ones most likely to just want to know, and they are the ones least afraid of knowing. 

As we ought to be. We know this world holds no power over us. We know that there's nothing in this world that takes God by surprise. We know there's nothing He hasn't planned for, nothing He can't handle. And so we know that, come what may, there is an answer to whatever ache we might experience, whatever questions we might have. We know that we are not immune to the things of this world, but we also understand that we have the answer to this world's questions. We know. We have the very word of God. 

And if we don't cross that threshold into the darkness, how will we ever tell anyone else? 

It's why we step into the hard things.  

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