I think my problem is that I’m looking for certainty in a life where there really just isn’t any. Unless, of course, I choose to create it. I was reading the Bible this evening and came across Psalm 121. In it David assures the reader that God will protect and be a shield from danger.
While reading this passage, I couldn’t help but think of the Charleston 9 who died. I kept thinking while reading this Psalm, about how it seemed like the Lord didn’t protect them. It didn’t seem like he came to their aid, didn’t keep them alive, or make the bullets miraculously miss them. God could have done all of that. Jesus could have saved those people who were in His house, worshiping and praising Him. But He didn’t. He didn’t let them live.
And at first, I had a hard time rectifying that idea. That an all-sovereign, powerful God could, but didn’t spare the lives of his own people. But the picture of God that I was painting as I questioned this event was not the picture of the Lord that I know. I know Jesus to be one who answers prayer. And not just prayer generally, but my prayers. I have talked to God and He has fixed things in my life. I have known Him to come through for me when I needed Him. I know Him to send refreshing healing in places parched with brokenness. I know that God.
But how can I be certain of Him in light of the fact that He let those people die? I can’t. Unless I choose to be. At first I was so uncomfortable with this notion–that I had to chalk Charleston up to the sovereign plan of God, that I had to accept what I couldn’t understand, with no clear explanation. But then I thought about it. I was asking God for a certainty that I wasn’t going to get.
There is nothing that is certain in this life. Nothing. I think people get so caught up in the contradictions of the Bible and walk away from it because there are so many unanswered questions. But do we ever get all of our questions answered in this life? There are people that we think we know like the back of our hand, that we love and cherish, but that still hurt us unexpectedly. It happens to everyone. It’s part of being human and loving other humans. But I don’t walk away from my husband, let’s say, because he hurt me, and I didn’t expect him to.
I don’t walk away from my job just because my boss may make a workplace decision that I neither like nor understand. I may talk it through with my family, if it’s a major decision, but I don’t just walk away. I like my job, and I like what it adds to my life.
And as much as I don’t understand Charleston or how God could allow this to happen, I stay. I choose to draw closer to God, even in the face of uncertainty. I’m creating my own certainty. A certainty that says to God: no matter what, I choose you. No matter the cost, no matter my disbelief, no matter the disappointment, I choose you. And sometimes, like now, choosing Christ is hard. But so is creating any certainty in life: staying married, loving kids through their foolishness, persevering on the job. We choose our paths. We create our certainties. So today, even in the face of what I don’t understand, I choose Jesus.