“How long do we put up with this, God? Are you gone for good? … Where is the love you’re so famous for?”
—Psalm 89:46, 50, The Message
I hate it when he doesn’t talk to me. Especially when I feel like I’m dying for lack of a word from him. If I could just have a reminder of his love so I know he’s not walked off for good. But I get nothing. If I could see him, there are times I’d want to pound him with my fists and yell back into the quiet peace of his face: “Why don’t you just SAY SOMETHING!!”
Just as I am suspicious of people who too easily feel that Jesus is their friend—that he lives to make them content, that he can be summoned at a moment’s notice to bless their every want, speak to their every need and reply within seconds at their convenience, I am also suspicious of myself for thinking sometimes that Jesus is not my friend. “Who are you really mad at in that case?” a (real, live, here-on-earth) friend asked when we talked about that urge to shout back in Jesus’ invisible face.
Who indeed? Am I really mad at Jesus for not talking when I want to hear him most? Or am I mad at the same suffering and pain that caused Jesus to die for love of the ones who live through it? When I’m hurting, when I’m angry at the world, sometimes the last thing I want someone I love to do is put their hand on my shoulder in a wordless gesture of support. Buzz off, I want to say. Leave me alone and let me stew. Why do you show up now and not when I really needed you? There is a front of defensiveness I cling to stubbornly even when it takes all my energy to keep it going. But Jesus is like that friend who keeps his hand on my shoulder long enough for me to move past being angry and get to the place where realize that I am tired, tired, and what I really want more than anything is to let it all go and know that someone else is in charge, someone who has a plan, someone who will one day work things together for good. Do I believe that is true? Yes, I definitely do. Is it a comfort to me when I'm sick of the silence? Not much. But I do know that my faith often hangs in the split-second moment between being angry at the hand on my shoulder and then wanting to receive it.
What a friend we have in Jesus. If we could just learn to live with him …