A game dredged from long ago memory is Kick the Can. It’s a poor man’s Kickball! Any metal can will do, and it’s played with two teams kicking the can and then running the bases to score runs baseball style. Like most other games involving skill and balls, I certainly didn’t shine. I didn’t even care all that much about shining! I’d much rather read a book or watch others play. It’s more difficult to handle life as a kick-the-can exercise. There is no comfort in kicking a painful can down the road! There is no closure in kicking the pain away temporarily only to have the waves of grief and pain plummet the heart and soul all over again in short order.
What if some well-meaning someone counsels: You just need to live in the truth that God is in
control and trust Him. That is a very true statement, but it’s a process hard won in the daily battle with pain and loss! It’s a terrible burden to dump such a seemingly self-righteous platitude on shoulders already slumped under the heavy burden of unexpected loss or the burden of constant barrage and assault. How is such counsel helpful to the grieving child whose parent is dying? How is such advice helpful to a parent suddenly thrust into the world of special needs with their child? What good does it do to speak such words in the face of devastating loss and even death? What help does such a quick prescription offer in the midst of unrelenting, bone-wearing care-giving? The blanks to fill in are almost endless and tailor-made for each individual sorrow.
Scripture has at least two examples of this sort of spiritual (?) admonition in the face of unrelenting, heart-deep suffering: Job’s friends (Job 16) and the man who was born blind (John 9). Job’s friends did come to sit in the town dump on top of the ashes with him, but they offered little in the way of REAL comfort and even implied that somehow Job must deserve his plight. The man born blind received his sight when Jesus healed him, but some asked, Who sinned – this man or his parents – that he was born blind? NICE! With friends like that………….
There is one more instructive Biblical example of desperation: the father whose son had overwhelming special needs in Mark 9. Dad is desperate for help and comes to Jesus as his last hope. He begs Jesus to help – not even sure Jesus can. He says, If you can do something for my son … Jesus assures Dad that He can and will help. Dad grasps at that glimmer of hope and says, Lord, I believe you can and then just as quickly falling back into despair that still clutches at the hope Jesus offers, Help my doubt! (Mark 9:24) That may be all there is, but it is enough because of the One we come to for help and hope:
Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help! … Listen to my cries for mercy. -- Psalm 130:1-2, MSG
We don’t need to kick the can down the road!