What’s to be done about all the things that “never should have happened”?
I look at my life, and I look at the lives of the people I love, and I think about all the things that really never should have happened.
Things I never should have done, whether mistakenly or naively or even willfully. Things that never should have been done to me, whether accidentally or willfully. And things that never should have happened to the people I love most — never ever, not even in a million years.
Sometimes I replay these things over and over in my mind and think, “if only.” If only, if only, if only. If only that thing or that series of things had never happened. Then life would be better. It would be more full of joy and less full of pain.
I sit and wish I could go back in time, back before that event, before that pain, and I wish I could change what happened, either for me or for the people I love.
Sometimes I think about the “never should have beens” TOO frequently.
Because I cannot go back and change what happened. No one can. It’s no use wishing for a different past or a different present. It won’t ever happen.
But sometimes, the thing that happened is so terrible, so dreadful, that I honestly don’t know how we can move on. What then? What do we do then?
I sat with this question this week, and here is the place I landed: CHRIST.
The only thing I know to do, amidst senseless and brutal suffering, is look to Christ. This is why we need Christ — for all the millions and billions of things that “never should have happened.”
This was the very purpose for which Christ was sent into our world. He is here today, with us and in us, precisely for the things that never should have happened. Yes, even when those choices were made and those actions were committed by Christ followers. Christ is here for ALL these things.
Maybe you don’t have any nagging questions about God’s goodness or why God let something happen to you. Maybe you never kick yourself for what you have done in the past.
But maybe sometimes you, like me, loop around all the “what ifs” and “if onlys” and “never should have happeneds.”
When I think of these unanswered and unanswerable questions, I’m reminded of some of the parting words in C.S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces.” The main character Orual is so like me, so prone to bitterness, so prone to questioning. But then she has an encounter with the Divine and responds:
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You are yourself the answer.
Before your face questions die away.
What other answer would suffice?”
I’m reminded of Job’s response to the Lord near the end of their very long conversation, and I’m reminded of the disciples’ confession in John 16:30:
“Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You.”
I don’t know what these questions and regrets looks like in your life right now. I don’t even know what they are going to look like in my life, moving forward.
All I know is that as I sat with the anguish and with the questions this week, that I knew, all over again, that Christ would be the antidote to the poison. That He would be the answer. For me and for the people I love.
Because we all need Christ for the “never should have beens.” No matter who did them.
And in the end, after all our questions and maybe even in the middle of all our questions, I pray we will be able to proclaim along with the modern hymn:
“Christ is enough for me.
Christ is enough for me.
Everything I need is in You.
Everything I need.”
Amen, and amen.
(originally posted on FB)