a few days ago my cousin died. he was young, newly married, and full of life. then, he was diagnosed with cancer. it was fast moving and deadly. thinking about his wife and family, today, reminded me of an excerpt from a book i read a while ago. it’s called This Beautiful Mess. it is about the kingdom of God and how it controls our lives as Christians. even though this world is a mess, there is still beauty in it because God is still in control.

the story this excerpt is taken from is about a family whose son suddenly became ill and is very near death…

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During those weeks, some well-meaning people gave us the right answers.  “God knows what’s happening,” they said.  Or, “Josh will be fine because we’re praying.”  The right answers seem right to say, of course, and seem right when you hear them, but they don’t help much.  To be honest, the right answers began to make us angry.  Somehow Christians have a hard time saying things like, “I don’t know why the hell this is happening or how it will end.  You guys must be scared to death.”  I guess we all need to be able to explain life down to every last detail even when the answers don’t mean anything to us.  We just can’t stand the questions.  But in the kingdom of God, I have come to believe, it is all right not to have all the answers, and I think Jesus likes it even more when we don’t make up safe ones that are safe and easy but hollow.

Just because people prayed did not mean that Josh would be okay.

Just because God knew what was happening didn’t mean I did.  Or that I knew how God would intervene for our family.

Just because I knew a Bible verse that says God will answer when I pray didn’t mean I wouldn’t lose my kid to some stupid killer infection.  His answers are not always my answers.

It’s exactly this type of shallow religion that makes people afraid to walk through the wild and untamed fields of the kingdom of God.

Ever notice?  Some people seem to have a Gap version of Christianity—a polished franchise faith where everyone is always winsome and smiling.  But I’m not interested.  During those days when Josh couldn’t leave the hospital, I was constantly aware that my son could die and that, if he did, I’d never be able to replace him.  I believe I was supposed to be aware of that.

My friends Jim and Marilyn lost a son in Iraq.  I thought a lot about them during those days in the children’s ward.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with a good answer for their pain.  For the past year, I’ve seen grief written in their lives.  I’ve seen the courage it takes for them just to come to church.

Tension hurts.

“Our Father in heaven,” we plead, “Your kingdom come. Please.”