Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Fight

I still don't really "get" it. I can't explain it to others who ask and I will be the first to admit to anyone that it doesn't make much sense to me. I have found a place on both sides of the fence at one time or another--the one which asks hard questions and believes the worst about the One who set it into motion and the one which asks hard questions and clings to the Truth, as is and as will be.

 I am always wondering when and how we are supposed to fight and simultaneously trust God's sovereignty. Sometimes the two seem mutually exclusive in my mind. Some days I wonder why the heck we put ourselves through chemotherapy if we trust Jesus and His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Other days I am knocking down doors and busting through road blocks because surely, this cannot be what God wanted.

I think I've been waiting to talk about this because I keep thinking that maybe next week I will grasp it a little bit better, or at least not swing so rapidly on the pendulum. It's true that nearly every time I open my Bible, The One Who Remains The Same changes, reworks, or expands my view on things that the day before I thought I might just have figured out. This conversation below is the one we have the most frequently. And most certainly, I will read another scripture tomorrow that tweaks what I understood to be true today, just a bit. The awesome thing is He never stops teaching and that HE Himself never changes -- so for that reason, I am writing.

In EMT school, after weeks of CPR training and testing, we were presented with the odds of CPR actually bringing people back to life. While difficult to measure, the statistics are surprisingly low--below 7% is a good guess. Some say as low as 1%. 

It was 12:15am and I was just getting ready to have my intern papers signed so I could leave--midnight had finally come. Now I was headed home to sleep for several hours before going back to school. The machines started beeping and the small, but sure, nurse began to shout out orders until the closest doctor arrived. A finger landed on me to begin chest compressions. It should have come as no surprise that standing over a real, warm, bare-chested human and putting my weight into the pursuit of pumping her body with blood, a job that intricately designed organs were meant for, would be quite different from my experiences with a plastic dummy. 

This woman beneath me, the one absorbing the forceful heart thrust I was delivering every second, was real and so was her daughter who was waiting outside the door. Forty two minutes later, her heart had shown no interest in re-programming and beginning again. The doctor called the time of death and I stepped down from the stool, my arms seemingly frozen in the position they'd held for those long, but fast-as-lightning, minutes. 

As I finally drove home from the ER, I was able to talk to a friend in a different time zone who was still awake. She asked me if I felt bad that the lady had still died. For some reason, I didn't really. Giving up a fight is always hard, but such solace comes when you can say with certainty that you did all you could. My role that night was small. As I physically begged this nameless woman's heart to kick back into gear, others worked furiously to provide adequate oxygen and intravenous epinephrine and atropine to give this woman her best chance of coming back to life.

Instead of going to class the next day, I went to get a massage in hopes of being able to use my upper body again someday. I have never been so sore in my entire life. I really did wonder if my shoulders would be stuck like this forever -- if I would always look like I was gripping reins while riding a horse. The pain felt good though, in a weird way. Even my body was crying out that "we tried, dadgumit, we tried."  Better than me, the doctor and nurses who didn't give up on a pulseless human for 42 minutes, knew the odds of bringing someone back to life. This was not their first cold body to cover--not their first tearful daughter to encounter with news she was praying against. But they fought. We fought hard. And then we trusted. Maybe the trusting should have preceded the fighting, but in the end, I know it was there.

We see it often in Scripture, the call to fight. "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless." "Seek justice for the oppressed." "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." Act, speak, seek, defend, stand, love -- we have a role in this fight, those words (and so many more!) are our proof. We are all called to a fight, all the while knowing true justice is not something we will see on this earth right now.

I am so results-focused. Quantifying successful loving has been a struggle for me since I started following Him. I want to win. I want to make a difference. I don't want to waste a second. I want my chest beating to bring life back and we want our banging on the doors of brothels to put little girls back into families and to reacquaint them with their innocence. We want our tears and our petitions and our time and our sacrifices to be rewarded with success. I do, at least. 

But the thing is, I don't think He really promises us quantifiable results or measurable success. At least not the kind I seek. He tells us to fight, undoubtedly. To stand with, to defend, to speak, to act... But He doesn't tell us this will end slavery or get the number of orphans in this world down to zero.  I don't think we're supposed to be so concerned with that, honestly.

I'm also starting to think He also doesn't always promise us the good, peaceful kind of sore that lingers to remind us we did all that we could do. If it comes, let me see it as a sweet, kind gift. If it doesn't come and I begin to demand it, maybe this has become far too much about me. Maybe He wants us to linger for a bit in that anxious "put me in the game, coach!" place of constant seeking and surrendering, offering (way too obnoxiously, perhaps) to be used if He will let us.

There are the things He doesn't promise us...and lots of times the sting is big. But the things He DOES promise us are good. So good. He tells us He will be with us. He tells us He will be Himself for us. He tells us that if we fight,then [our] light will rise in the darkness, and [our] night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide [us] always; he will satisfy [our] needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen [our] frame. [We] will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."And if that's not enough, He tells us He is coming back for us and none of this crap that called us to a fight will even be worth comparing or remembering.

There are days I convince myself I am fighting alone. Many days, unfortunately. I ask Him why the little girl who always ran home from school to show me her A's is now the same girl who was pulled out of school and is being sold for sex instead. I ask Him why that boy has to confirm the scoffs of the "I told you so"ers and find himself back in jail, when it's impossible not to see he is the greatest victim. I ask Him why no one who has any kind of power seems to give a damn that orphans are being oppressed, right before our eyes. I ask Him why the lady who drops her handicapped sister off on the street every morning to beg for money is rolling in wealth while her sister is pushed lower to the ground every day. I ask Him why all of this medical knowledge, all of this gifting is reserved for the sick who are rich, while body bags are overflowing in the slums.

I have so many questions. I know He cares; I know I only care because He cares; so I cling to what I know of who He is and join the fight. The results are His, my only obligation is jumping in and trusting that He is good.
"The truth is we may never fully understand why God allows the suffering that devastates our lives. We may never find the right answers to how we'll dig ourselves out. There may not be any silver lining---especially not in the ways we'd like. But we don't need answers as much as we need God's presence in and through the suffering itself. Explanations, I've learned, are often a substitute for trust. For a believer, God's chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be himself for you. And, in the end, we discover this really is enough." --Tullian Tchividjian


  1. What a powerful story and post.

    I'm another who came over from FPFG's blog and I'm so glad she linked to you.

    I realize you wrote this post a bit ago, but I'm so glad it was today that ::I:: read it.

    And the TT quote at the end was something I also needed to read today.

    Thank you. REally.

  2. Wow, God is great. Thanks for reading. And if you haven't read "Glorious Ruin" by Tullian T., I'd definitely recommend it!!!