Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Like Children

I have observed something about children. Their perspective on personal tragedy is different than adults. And this observation has taught me something about my journey with God.

For a child events like falling down on a hard surface, not getting to play with a desired toy, or being sent to bed while others stay up are major tragedies. They wail, shed tears, and loudly protest the situation. Yet, sooner or later, they allow their parents to comfort them and then proceed with life as if nothing had happened.

Now, what makes the difference between the parents' reaction to the emotionally negative event vis a vis the child's? The difference is time. The parents' life-experience has given them a broader perspective on this type of event.

They know what the child does not: That these experiences are to be expected, that the pain does not last forever, that life will go on, and that better times will come. This does not lessen the emotional content of the child's tragedy in the parents' eyes; they still sympathize with their child and wish the child didn't have that experience. But because they can frame this event in a broader context, they are able to offer comfort to their child.

Of course, the parents have tragedies of their own that their children are not yet old enough to fully comprehend: foreclosures, layoffs, mental illness, chronic illness, and death. The question is Who comforts the adult during these times? Who is able to guide us through the experience of death as one who has been there before? (You probably know where this is headed.)

God's time is different than our time, and that gives Him an eternal perspective on the tragedies of our life. He's been through greater tragedy than we can comprehend. Can any one of us claim to fully grasp the significance of famine, genocide, the fall of Lucifer, sin, or the Cross? (Perhaps this is why Christians sometimes talk so glibly about hell.)

So he picks us up, hugs us, tells us it will be OK, wipes away our tears, and releases us into an eternal life.

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