“Why is it good to cry?”
My daughter asked the question while I was driving. Tears were rolling down my cheeks behind my sunglasses and I had hoped she wouldn’t notice.
I took a deep breath.
“It’s good to cry because that’s how we share our sadness with God,” I reasoned. “We cry and then He comes to us. And He makes the sadness beautiful somehow.”
She squinted her eyes in confusion.
“But He doesn’t come down to be with us, does He?”
In some ways, she’s right, my four-year-old. God came down once, in the person of Jesus, and He will come again. But He wasn’t sitting beside me while I was crying that morning. He wasn’t in the passenger seat handing me a tissue, reminding me that one day He would make everything new.
God does comfort us through his people, the church, the body of Christ. But does He come down and comfort us personally? I think He might.
I guess I’ll start with the sicknesses. The seven cold viruses I had from October until March; the three infections, the pneumonia, the bronchitis, the antibiotics and inhalers and steroids.
I was sick almost constantly this past winter. When I try to recall specific memories, I see mostly the CVS drive-thru pharmacy and box after box of zinc lozenges.
Despite praying for protection, despite the incessant use of hand sanitizer, despite every homeopathic remedy known to the Internet (including swallowing garlic cloves whole, which I’m sure everyone around me appreciated), I couldn’t seem to stay well.
And honestly, it left me feeling unprotected by God. Maybe even forgotten by Him. He could have prevented each and every illness. He could have wrapped me in an impenetrable shield. He could have healed my immune system.
But He chose not to.
And that was hard. Hard to understand and hard to bear.
But looking back, I see that Jesus used the darkness of that season to turn my face to the light…so I could see with open eyes the glorious moments when He comes and comforts us directly.
I was at the Sanibel Island Farmers Market in Florida this past March. I was finally healthy, walking in the sunshine, shopping for dinner. And then, at the far end of the parking lot, I saw a long table filled with mangoes.
Not cold, pale, green mangoes, the kind wrapped in those sad foam nets, crammed together in grocery boxes. Hot mangoes. Piles and piles of mangoes sitting in the sun, soft and red. And behind the table, a man was slicing them faster than I’ve ever seen, his knife reflecting the sunlight.
He saw me staring at the table and he reached out to hand me a sample. I took one bite and tears started to drip down my sweaty cheeks.
I was crying at the farmers market in Florida in the middle of the afternoon.
But this time, my tears weren’t asking God to come. God had come.
Somehow, in that bite of mango, God said to me, “I am here. And I am good.”
I think somewhere along the way in my winter of sickness and sadness, I became convinced that God didn’t give good gifts. That He just gave us the “bread of adversity” to teach us, to train us to persevere, to humble us. But that’s just not true. God loves us. And He loves to give us good gifts.
So no matter where the road is leading and no matter how thick the darkness looks right now, I promise – God has good gifts ahead. Keep walking. Keep waiting. Keep looking. There may be a table of mangoes right around the corner.
PRAYER | God of All Comfort, come to us when we cry. Wrap us in your love when we feel unprotected in the wind. Open up our tired eyes to see the beauty you set before us. Take our hands and lead us into the light.
WORSHIP | Thank You | Jonathan David Helser