Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cold Comfort (Snowy Day Contemplations)

Snow makes me happy. I was born in January, so the majority of my birthdays have taken place in snow. When I tell people I prefer winter to summer, I actually mean that I prefer the cold to the heat. It’s inefficient to be a fan of snow unless you live someplace it’s certain to fall constantly, and that ain’t Tulsa. But here it is, at the end of March, and it’s pretty magnificent.

Snow makes me contemplative. I assumed when Melissa started this blog, I’d take the opportunity to indulge my contemplative side. As it turns out, my contemplations in regard to Elijah tend to be a little too... terrestrial. Rather than get all emotional, I talk about doctor’s appointments, surgical details, travel schedules. All that organization brings sharp focus to the reality of the situation, and so sometimes, I think dark thoughts. Which is why, when good things happen, I’m plesantly surprised. It’s like enjoying snow but never seeing snow; to make the best of summer days makes sense operationally. And speaking operationally, it makes more sense to deal with Elijah's challenges with the most positive attitude possible, free from dark thoughts. It’s also easier emotionally. But how to do it?

Bet you didn’t think we had dark thoughts anymore, did you? After that “Tulsa World” story, everyone was so impressed with how positive Melissa and I were about Elijah’s situation. And the truth is, we are positive, we really are. It helps that everyone who meets him immediately falls in love. There’s no way our promotions and blogs and articles could convey how adorable he is. It’s all on him. Today, with the snow falling, we spent the whole day playing and playing and playing. He’s discovered Sophia’s collection of Little People – the houses, the figurines, the cars – and he’s smitten. His favorite was opening the little front door to the house, hiding his pacifier inside, and closing the door. He saves his big laughs for when he’s proud of himself.

But if there’s reason to be happy, why indulge in dark thoughts? Where do they come from? I’ll tell you where. They are the result of logical conclusions. Academics won’t tell you this, but the scientific method is poor comfort in the face of adversity. Which is unfortunate for me, because I rely on logic quite heavily. That’s why I’ve recently been reading “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis. I wanted to know what a Christian author had to say about the reason God allows us to feel pain, both physical and emotional. He makes a compelling and very scripturally supported case, but as I read searching for comfort, I found a cold treatise in its place. Lewis tells me why pain is necessary in our universe, and why it’s essential to salvation, but when the pain cannot be explained, what coping mechanism will suffice?

Lewis takes his responsibility to representing Christianity seriously, and so he does the right thing and admits that we can’t think our way out of pain. He says that only faith in God’s love can support us through times of adversity and oppression, and if we find our intellectualism bringing us some portion of comfort, then it’s God’s love that is required to push us the rest of the way, to that level we call “peace of mind.”

God knows that having all the answers, even if that were possible, would not give us comfort from our pain. Why must it be this way? Hey look at that, it’s a bit of circular reasoning. I just asked, “Would someone please give me enough information to explain why information doesn’t bring comfort? I won’t feel comfortable until you do.”

Some people wonder why God would allow Elijah to suffer, and why we would praise him after he’s responsible for such a thing. I’ll be happy to talk to any of you about this – just e-mail me, seriously – but in the meantime, please know that I’ve given the matter a lot of thought, and prayer which is more helpful than thought, and I’m certain that God loves Elijah and deseves my thanks and my worship. Chew on that until we talk again.



Anonymous said...

I know about circular thinking and how often it takes me from my finite human perspective to God's point of view. Few of us deserve what happens to us, whether it is by our own hand or circumstances but God holds the answer to our questions and the lessons come in the form of grace and mercy for all. Eli is this gift/treasure and we are the most lucky people in the world to be his family. Phillip Yancy has a book about physical pain too, "Where is God When it Hurts". Appreciate the snowy days no matter how others may see them. I do. Granna

Stacie said...

Awesome post...and I think I want to read the book now. Thanks for sharing.

Angie said...

"Some people wonder why God would allow Elijah to suffer, and why we would praise him after he’s responsible for such a thing."

God loves Eli more than even you do. Its hard to even comprehend that. But...

And God is not responsible for Eli's suffering, this fallen world is. God knows his suffering, and yours and weeps with you. God IS responsible for all the love and laughter and joy that you see in spite of all this suffering too. This is what we praise.

That's what I think.