“… that they would seek God, perhaps grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” —Acts 17:27
This past week I saw two things that didn’t seem to go together. One was a dusting of snow on our newly unfurled tree leaves. The other was a ridiculously active sloth at the zoo. Frozen spring leaves. A fast-moving sloth. Things that don’t go together. This got me thinking about other things that don’t go together, words that should never be in the same sentence like “child” and “cancer.” All of us, if we have our eyes open, will be called at some point to hold grace in one hand and pain in the other and wonder how we’re supposed to put them together.
The life of Christ perhaps best exemplified this holding of opposites, putting together things like “blessed” and “mourn,” “death” and “resurrection.” To ignore the places where these words clash together is to miss something fundamentally important about faith. And yet there are people who resolve the tension by choosing one side and ignoring the other; whose placid smiles choose grace and can’t really get their hands dirty on the pain side. The world needs more people who are willing to stand in that place of tension and be honest about pain, even the pain of holding on to faith in the midst of loss.
There are times we seek God with our minds and our rational beings and there are times when, failing everything else, we are left to grope in the dark. Times when there are no easy answers, when there are no answers at all. But we who are compelled to ask the questions stand there, hands open, looking now at grace and now at pain, and raising our hands in surrender to the one who reconciled opposites, who reconciled us, with his blood.