This summer has felt much more like winter and in the past few days, I have become ravenous for some sign of spring. Since early May, it seems like loss has closed in around me like a thick blanket of snow and ice. First, our friends lost a baby in a tragic turn of events. Six weeks later, a friend lost a 12-year battle with brain cancer followed by another dear friend who was called home after enduring 5 years of a blood disease. To top it all off, just a couple weeks ago we had to put our 14 year old family dog down after watching her health decline rapidly over the last several months. As if all that weren’t enough, some emotional losses have been at the forefront of this season as well. In one week I will send my youngest child off to kindergarten and I will mourn a different kind of loss. Last, but not least, these warm summer days have brought the end to some friendships that I believed were much stronger than actuality revealed.
In all of this, I have wrestled with my own sadness, and watched those around me reeling with grief. As I attended our friend’s visitation, what could I possibly say to his widow and three daughters? Tempted to ask if they needed anything, I knew in my heart the question was inadequate and empty. Of course they need something. They need their father and husband. They need to see him, hold him and finish life with him. The intensity of their grief seemed immeasurable. But in that very instant, something else immeasurable occurred to me. It struck me that perhaps the depth of their sorrow is only matched by the depth of God’s love and comfort.
From there, the revelations came fast and furious and right in the midst of them came the truth of Newton’s third law. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What Newton found to be true in the physical realm seems to be just as true in the spiritual one. For every human emotion we experience, God has an equal and opposite reaction. When we sin, the expanse of our regret and remorse is powerfully countered by the great expanse of God’s forgiveness. In the times that we are desperate to hear God’s voice above a raging storm, He is just as desperate to reach us in our pain and anguish. Days that we find ourselves in rebellion, running fast and furious away from His arms, I believe God is pursuing us just as furiously and feverishly. And in our darkest moments, when we feel most alone and lost, God is most anxious to reveal His presence and comfort. An equal and opposite reaction. Our darkness reveals His shining moments. Our caverns and valleys give way to His appearance on the mountain pulling us out of the mire.
The Bible is full of stories in which God reacts to dismay, failure, and desperation with equal amounts of peace, forgiveness and hope. When Noah received a flood, God sent a rainbow and a promise. When Esther reached for courage, God responded with protection and provision. And perhaps, most profoundly, when the disciples grappled with the death and ascension of Christ and an unknown future, God sent the Holy Spirit.
During this season of loss in my own life, I’m not sure what God’s reaction will be. But in any case, I’m looking forward to it. If the depths of my sorrow are any indication, then I can trust that his equal and opposite reaction will be spectacular and glorious. I am convinced that in the presence of the deaths I’ve experienced, God’s display of life will be nothing short of miraculous. I love that I have a God who exercises love and mercy at every turn. A God who responds to our abundant desperation with an abundance of grace. A God who takes Newton’s genius to a whole new magnificent level.