The people at Home Depot probably thought I was crazy. I stood staring at a wall of bits, unsure what I was supposed to buy (In our household, sending me to Home Depot is like sending my husband to the grocery for feminine products; always a lose/lose). Other customers must have thought I was far too attached to my need for a 1-1/2″ bit as tears were pooling in my tired eyes.
I wasn’t crying because I couldn’t find the small metal tool, but they didn’t know that. I was crying in sheer helplessness. My feelings of helplessness from the disasters and the sudden tragedies of loved ones were all mounting like stacking blocks. They had to crash eventually.
A precious lady I led in a discipleship group many years back lost her twenty-something brother when he was struck by lightning last week. Horrific, yet the family is clinging to hope in the Lord.
My Appa’s heath continues to decline, and as such, we find ourselves hundreds upon hundreds of miles away from his bedside and the errands that would serve my Amma.
My sister and her husband live in Beaumont with her wild gaggle of boys, which only increases my sense of utter helplessness as I watch the news of raging waters and torrential rains.
The people in Home Depot did not know that my tears were not attached to their products or lack thereof, they were attached to a deep well of helplessness peppered with eternal hope that all will be made well.
I see the same fear in my four year old’s eyes when he catches short, interpreted glimpses at the images of Harvey’s havoc. Just last night, he popped out of bed with a slew of questions and ideas. How do they get to the boats? What if you don’t have a boat? What about their stuff? Does California ever flood? What about my Legos? Are the dogs scared?
His precious brain, wild with wonder and trust, trying to make sense of pain and devastation. He innately knows that these things should not be, yet they are.
I see myself in him, I see humanity in him trying to make sense of the brokenness, trying to find explanation and categories in which to put the helplessness.
We don’t need help with helplessness, we need help with hope.
Goethe once quipped, “Tell me of your certainties, I have doubts enough of my own.”
All week, as my doubts have assaulted me, I have borrowed from Anne Bradstreet’s certainty, as penned in Upon the Burning of our House (penned after losing everything to a fire in 1666).
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then, coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest His name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.
It was his own, it was not mine,
Far be it that I should repine;….
Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best.
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit…
And did thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mould’ring dust?
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.Thou hast a house on high erect
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.
It‘s purchased and paid for too
By Him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by His gift is made thine own;
There‘s wealth enough, I need no more,
Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love,
My hope and treasure lies above.
While no houses are burning, many are resting in standing water. My prayer has been and will continue to be that those affected would be pointed to the certainties of the Christian faith, which provides a framework for such terrible pain and offers the One true hope for which we all deeply long.