“What’s my job?” she asked her 4-year-old daughter. “Your job is to make everything OK,” she replied simply.
To make everything OK. That’s Mom’s job. She kisses boo-boos, fixes snacks, carries you when you’re too tired to walk and gets you a blanket when you’re cold. Life, according to a 4-year-old, would not be OK without Mom. Life, according to a 4-year-old, would be terrifying, hungry, tiring, boring, wet, scary, lonely, confusing, cold, hot, unimaginable..and, frankly, that’s not OK.
Young children have such a beautiful way of articulating complicated and important truths in our lives. It’s refreshing. They have yet to come up with the exceptions and excuses that take what should be our first thoughts and twist them into something in which we fail to take confidence. It’s why Jesus reminds us to have faith like a child. It’s uncomplicated in a way that draws us into trusting and loving God more, the way that we were created to love and trust our Creator.
There are countless names and qualities we can attribute to God: Jesus. Lord of Lord. King of Kings. Yahweh. Prince of Peace. Eternal. Holy Spirit. Wonderful Counselor. Judge. Father. (To name a few.)
Father. It’s a word that can ignite an array of emotions for some and be emotion-less for others, yet it subconsciously presumes several truths. Father, like Mom, is supposed to make everything OK. Right?
God’s been in the business of making things OK since the beginning of time as we know it. He loves, cares for, redeems, forgives, restores, heals and gives second chances over and over and over again. If you read through the Old Testament, really read through it, not merely glance at a few verses or stories here and there, you can’t help but see that as a theme. If God were a person, He would have given up on the Israelites and all of humanity somewhere in the first few pages, chapters or books. It doesn’t make sense how He pursues people so relentlessly. It just doesn’t. But He does. His love makes it so He can’t help but want to make everything OK. The disconnect, however, seems to be found in the definition of “OK.”
With a quick click of the mouse pad on my laptop, I looked up the origin of the word OK:
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: probably an abbreviation oforl korrect, humorous form of all correct, popularized as a slogan during President Van Buren’s reelection campaign of 1840; his nickname Old Kinderhook (derived from his birthplace) provided the initials.
Forget the presidential reference and think about the idea of something being “all correct.” All correct, to me, means the way that something should be. It’s right. Not wrong. The disconnect, again, seems to be in the sometimes-ginormous chasm found in between our idea of OK and God’s idea of OK.
God’s goal is to restore relationship with His people because He loves. That would make everything OK. For creation – including people made in His image – to be back to the way things were before sin entered the world in Genesis 3. We see promises in the Bible that it will be the way God intended it to be, that everything will be OK. Eternally. That will happen. But we’re not there yet. We’re waiting and hoping on the OK to come one day and forever while we live in a world that is, clearly, not OK.
Our idea of OK often hinges on comfort and circumstances that we think would be the best solution to any problem. God is concerned with our well-being. I believe that to be true. But, sometimes, our comfort and circumstances isn’t what will make us love and trust God more. God cares too much to let us always get our way when it comes to making everything OK. He knows that His OK is not only a better OK but actually the best OK possible.
There are always several “issues” about which I am praying. I want God to make them OK. I want people about whom I care to know God’s love. I want to be married. I want my knee to get better on my timeline. I want a friend to get pregnant. I want someone to get a job. I want a friend’s broken marriage to be restored. I want a friend’s dad to be miraculously healed of cancer. These are not bad wants. In my mind, these, and many other circumstances, would ultimately be OK if they were taken care of according to what I think would be OK. And I’m not sure that God would disagree. Relationship, healing, reconciliation…those are all things with which God is concerned. He doesn’t forget, not notice or ignore our prayers.
So what happens when things don’t turn out OK? Does that mean that God made a mistake? Are things not OK?
I repeat: It’s the sometimes-ginormous chasm found in between our idea of OK and God’s idea of OK where we struggle the most, most often felt (to me) in the when and the how the process unfolds.
As much as I want these things above, I wrestle with the idea that my idea of OK is different than God’s. God might be doing something so huge, and I’m simply missing the point. I’m stuck in the middle with tunnel vision focused on comfort and circumstances unable to see the end, unable to see how God is truly making everything OK according to His great big love and great big plans.
So where does that leave us?
We live in the middle. In the not-OK reality where we must choose to trust that God’s OK is the best OK and that He is actively working in the situations where we want Him to make everything OK, even when we can’t see it and it doesn’t feel like it, which, I’m not gonna lie, is tough. It’s hard to see pain and suffering and loneliness and it just not work out over and over again. It’s hard and annoying and frustrating. But it’s in those moments, in our letting go and saying, “I give up!” where we are able to see God most clearly. We see how much we need Him. We see how much we can trust Him. We see how much He loves. We are a 4-year-old little girl fully dependent on Him to make everything OK. And that’s beautiful.