I need to paint today but in truth, I am wrestling with God a bit at the moment.
2020, for certain, has been a time of upheaval, uncertainty and loss of safety and security we have perhaps taken for granted.
Maybe you can relate: the rules I have depended on have been broken.
My prayers and pleadings for healing of people who bring nothing but goodness, love and faith to the world, seem to go unheard and the losses of two beautiful souls and the suffering of their families have stunned me so that I am finding it hard to find center some days.
As I was taking a walk on Sunday, breathing in the beauty of autumn and watching leaves fall on the path in front of me, I was reminded that it is not because of me that the world continues it's path around the sun. The world does not operate according to Gretchen. It feels much safer to think that I have a line of direct access to God that might influence what happens on earth, and that my understanding is His understanding, but it is also a completely egocentric faith- no faith at all. It feels more comfortable and predictable if life is kind of based on a merit system of sorts. I know this isn't what the bible says and I learned personally a long time ago that bad things happen to the best human beings and that prayer is not always answered. It is only my responsibility to love those around me and pray for them and then let go, trusting God is big enough to hold the world and see everything that I cannot, through space and time. My cousin, whose faith is great, said this in the midst of crisis last week as her 7 year old son's life hung in the balance: "And if not, God is still good." Those words are hard and sharp and difficult to believe with conviction when prayers from the depths of our souls go unanswered.
In the old testament, the morning after Jacob wrestled with God during the night, God walked away and changed Jacob's name to Israel, which means "struggle" or "to wrestle with". The ancient Jews believed that God invited each of us into a wonderful wrestling match. Why wonderful? Because struggle in our faith and comprehension of God's ways means we are intimately questioning and seeking God, which is not a bad thing if we are to grow in understanding.
I want the roots of my faith to loosen from the safe ground of control and narrowness of thinking that tells me my understanding of God and faith is complete. It is messy at the moment. I am wrestling with God. And even as I know that my understanding on earth will never be complete, I ask for courage enough to let go of my will and accept Gods, with full confidence and trust. Even as I struggle with the paradox within the answer that "though with man it is impossible, nothing is impossible for God."
Today, my painting is dedicated to that struggle and to celebrating the lives of all who have gone on before us this past year, as well as those left in their wake, who we walk along with through the grief. And to two angels in particular, Deacon- vibrant boy with a heart bursting with love who lived every minute of his life to the fullest, and Thao- whose radiant spirit of love and compassion was life giving to me and so many others.
" Oh our God...we have no power against this great multitude of sorrow that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You." 2 Chronicles 20:12