This is why I am so passionate about teaching folks that we are all in this together.
We may believe we live in a "safe neighborhood"...until a burglary or suicide or arrest for domestic violence or abuse a few doors down leaves us shaken and fearful. We may believe we work in a safe place...until a shooting on a domestic USA military base clarifies how naive that is. We may believe that, although the working wounded beside us are struggling in silence with a sense of isolation, their issues are not our problem...until it dawns on us that we are adding to their pain by failing to see Jesus in their face. We may believe that we are "better", "nicer", more deserving of a "good life" that THOSE people, the people whose wounds are more visible and sins more public...until a letter in the mail or a knock on the door teaches us that "those people" are us and the people we love.
We are all broken and in need of rehabilitation, restoration, redemption. And we look in all the wrong places to ease our pain. We build walls that make us far less safe and embrace behaviors that consistently add to our pain...and so we again do MORE of the same things that are not working.
But in a breath we can take a chance, small though it may seem to us, that God speaks truth. And here is that oh so unbelievable truth. GOD loves us. God has always loved us. God will always love us.
But it is unbelievable because no matter how hard we try, we know the horrible truth...we don't feel very lovable. And the more we wade deeper into those lying behaviors that promise to assuage our pain, the yuckier we feel. And the harder it is to believe that a perfect God, the creator of all life and the complex systems that support life, could have any very personal interest in such a broken vessel as we know ourselves to be. Maybe we have even put our toe in the water and asked God to help us, hear us, but then we quickly embrace doubt and maybe even more destructive behaviors because it is so scary to think that God might not love us, that we are just too worthless, too horrid for God and that would truly be the end of hope.
So what do we do, filled with pain and doubt as the rage seeps out and leaves despair? I have this Bible verse printed large in my office: "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24) I love this because it reminds me of this truth: on my own this belief thing is just too hard to manage. But God, knowing this, invites us to say so and ask for help. Now, my girlfriends would say, "Well isn't that awfully hard for the menfolk?" Yes, in truth it is hard for all of us in the truest parts of our hearts. The stronger we are, the more able the world knows us to be, the harder the humility thing is. But it is the essence of getting to the truth. It is our brokenness that opens us to the love of God. To the degree we are independent, self-dependent, we limit the room God can work in us (and through us).
So I love this father in Mark who is willing to lay down EVERYTHING for love of his dying child. He loves and lives as Christ loves and lives for us. And he shows us the way when he prays, "Lord, I rely on you for everything, including my ability to rely on You!"
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)