“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)
Rivers. Lakes. Waterfalls. Elk. Hiking trails. Mountains. Glaciers. Birds. Wind. Sunshine. A picnic in the woods. Doug and I had a great day the other day as we drove for the first time on the North Cascades Highway (Route 20), celebrating our 31st anniversary of our marriage. I felt my soul refresh as we experienced the beauty of God in nature, where seasons and elements over the years have made themselves known. As Doug wrote about that day, “As we looked at the majestic mountains, the valleys carved by glacial forces over time, we both celebrated the adventure that God has had us on as well as the reality that God works in his time, in his power, shaping, carving and creating something beautiful. Our marriage is a testament to God and his deep love for us that shapes us and moves us toward his mission together.” We reminisced, trying to remember what we did for each anniversary, where we were living. We talked about our childhood homes. We were thankful for each other, and for God being there every step of the way. In every good but imperfect marriage there is a messy mixture of good and bad, sweet and sour, joy and pain, trials and the times when everything seems to go well. God being there in the midst of brokenness, indeed in all times, is what I love; it’s our hope. He’s the one who gives us the love that we have for each other, and it’s by his grace that we are in it for the long haul.
On the way to the North Cascades Highway, we drove to the other side of Oso, where the landslide went through a year and a half ago. The land before and after was lush and green, lined with trees; the area of the landslide was stark, mounds of broken trees and dirt and a huge mountainside that looked like the side of a rock quarry. Not only did it bring solemn silence, as we remembered the loss of life and homes, the horror, but it also reminded me of the brokenness of life. No one expected this to happen, but it did. In the last year, amazing people I’ve known have passed away, others have divorced; people have experienced brokenness in other ways. Justice and mercy issues across the world have been on my mind. Fervent prayers have not been answered in the way we wanted them to be, many tears have been shed, and there’s the giant gaping loss of persons who should be here but are not. Broken expectations, loss, pain.
But there is hope. There is rest. There is God working in the brokenness. A friend just posted this quote on Facebook:
God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. – Vance Havner
That’s a beautiful realization, a great thing to ponder. And maybe we can pause there, even as we grieve, for we have hope for us here and hope for our loved ones to see Jesus face to face. God is the Creator, the giver of good gifts, who doesn’t bring us sin and evil, but does redeem the events of life mysteriously in some way. We are on a mission with him to bring healing and light and goodness to the world in the name of Jesus. We can be very glad in the places where the Kingdom has shown through, where prayers have been answered with healing and justice. But may we trust him with all of our concerns and expectations. One of my heroes, Elisabeth Elliot, missionary and author of many books including Through Gates of Splendor, just died. Her children made a statement that she had been battling dementia about a decade, and that her attitude when she was diagnosed was, “Well, I trusted God with all of my life so far, and I’m going to trust him with the rest of my life as well.” God is good, even in the brokenness. May we mourn with those who mourn and pray. And may we be glad that God is our refuge, and be refreshed.
Kelly can be reached via email.