Where God is when you cry on your pillow
[Anna] had talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. —Luke 2:38b
An adorable, goofy, music-loving ten-year-old is beaten so badly by his dad that the kid has to sleep on his stomach, not his back. This same kid went to a Bible camp for a week around that time. His mom took him to the camp, drove off, and never lived near him again.
I feel the boy’s tears on his pillow. I hear his questions to God. Where are you? Why is happening?
Later, the teen’s relationship with his dad worsens—if that can even be possible. His breakup with his girlfriend has nothing to do with her—or even them as a couple. His once promising music career plateaus. Into his pillow, he may have asked deeper, broader questions. Do we have a distant God? Do we have an inactive God?
I still have tears on my pillow some nights. In the moment, in the dark, and into the silence around me, I do not know where God is, or how God is.
And then I know, quietly, that God is where God has always been. I also know that God uses women like Anna, whom we will talk about tomorrow, to BE the difference. A widow in her early twenties in a world that devalued women, especially ones who have lost their husband to death, Anna must have had tears on her pillow, too. She must have been scared. She must have felt alone. She certainly faced uncertain—even troubling—times.
She didn’t wail, at least for long. She didn’t wallow. She didn’t wait. She moved closer to God. She literally moved into His sanctuary, a Temple. In doing so, she learned what we can learn: that God reveals God’s self to—and through—us when we know we may meet someone who spent the previous night in tears. In meeting this person,
God uses us as messengers and in-the-moment missionaries in the world His Son came to save.
Anna talked about Jesus, this child she met, to everyone. She told people about Jesus because she knew hope in Him conquers hurt—in time. She also knew belief in Jesus, when shared, make tragedies a triumph if not in this life (and good can and does comes from bad), then in the life that follows this one.
And that, honestly, is enough.
Actually, it’s everything.
Evil can win. As a result, maybe you’ve had tears on your pillow. When they dry as mine do, we have an option. We can move with Him, and loss, while it is never completely gone, never completely wins either. When we remember Anna, we learn loss teaches us that love does win. Yes, loves wins. In time. Every time.
PRAYER: Lord, remind us when we are ready that You hear us cry. And don’t stop there, please. Call us to love those around us who also cry so that we may weep with them, hold their questions, and listen for how—and where—we are to share Your name. Amen.
This photo is of Brody Rose, the actor who plays young Bart Millard in the movie I Can Only Imagine. The movie (which I reference here) is based on Bart’s life, and Bart, who did cry on his pillow before becoming the lead singer in MERCY ME, openly shares how his relationship with his once abusive dad changes because Jesus entered his dad’s life and, in time, blessed Bart’s life.
We can learn of Jesus’ love through our loss. I encourage you to listen to the song I Can Only Imagine and yes, oh yes, watch this film if you have not yet done so.