Last night the tornado sirens started wailing around 1 am. I'm thankful for Aaron, because I tend to sleep through things like that. In fact, I stirred a little when they began, and then asked him, "Are you okay?" When he answered yes, I rolled over. Great.
But he, being more awake than I, drug Maggie and me down to the basement. It was Maggie's first time in the basement - no way will she venture down those scary open steps herself. (And, no, Dad, we are not going to let Maggie stay upstairs and get carried off by the tornado. Even though I know that's what you think we should do.)
Today is an afterglow of last night's storms. A day wrapped in the kind of dim light that, at 3 in the afternoon, makes a day feel long folded into dusk. Thunder is rumbling low, and I have a candle burning. Candles + thunderstorms = match made in heaven.
On the job, we still wait. A couple of good interviews have come and gone, so perhaps we will know soon.
In complete honesty, let me say I am grateful for this season we are in. (Is there a way for you to hear that without the tinniness of corny notes?) I was reading from Thomas a Kempis the other morning. My flesh wants the discomfort of this season to pass - and quickly please! These ancient words burrowed into me:
Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
He has many seekers of consolation, but few of suffering.
He finds many companions at His feasting, but few at His fasting.
All desire to rejoice with Him; few are willing to endure anything for Him.
...those who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for any comforts they receive, bless
Him as readily in temptation and anguish of heart as in the state of highest consolation.
Goodness, it feels weird to call this season suffering, because it is slight. Regardless of how full the cup of sorrow is, it always tastes bitter to the one holding it. In this present "anguish of heart" I see a face of Jesus forgotten in the blithe seasons. The Jesus who sweats blood and cries over Jerusalem. The Jesus who walked lonely and was forsaken totally. The Jesus who sees every orphan, every injustice, every pain.
Jesus could have given us that job that pays $10,000 more than any other job currently on the table. Bam. He could have. And I would have praised Him, and then likely picked out new curtains, a new rug, and some new maternity tops.
Please know that as I write this, I'm afraid you will hear a false holiness, a sham of humility, or a guilt-trip because you like material comforts, you awful person. Please believe that is not my heart. Sheesh, I wanted that job desperately. If they called back and offered it to Aaron today, I would do a jig.
What I want you to hear is that there is value in suffering. Whatever your cup, whatever your cross. Our God doesn't take pleasure in hurting us. No. Could it be that the hurt is a kind wounding, a "severe mercy" as Sheldon Vanauken called it? Because in suffering, we see Jesus more clearly. We see the treasure He is compared to the other sticks propping us up. In suffering, we see the world more compassionately. There is someone whose heart is hurting worse than mine. What Paul said was true: our God comforts us "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
Sometimes, He empties out the house. We sit in the echoing rooms, and we find that they are filled with Him. And then...
then we cannot even remember what we loved that once sat in that space.