Long ago a friend gave a quick response to a serious question that contained more insight than he realized or probably intended. The question and answer was as follows.
“Where was God in the middle of the Los Angeles riots?”
Right now, I am struggling to keep things in order. Work is going full steam, overwhelming in the corners, and frustrating at the edges. Personal projects are taking longer than I anticipated and now people are expecting things that I will not be able to deliver. Additionally, there are kids growing up and off to new experiences at school, websites to be maintained, and commitments that must be kept. In the midst of all this, a friend at work is taking a position in our dialogue that is providing far more insight than I want, or thought I would ever need.
His relationship was to walk with me, slightly ahead, asking the tough questions, and encouraging me to find the answers. Something has changed. I do not know what or exactly when but now things are different. I am not sure he is with me. His questions carry a conclusion rather than query. Our conversations are painful and difficult, instead of the earlier one full of enthusiasm and energy. His insights are drawn and detached from reality, but then I am not able to walk from his perspective.
As difficult as it is to say, I am not sure our current relationship is one of friendship. I know that I did not always see things this way. I look to the past, and I now see my own journey with others in a different light. I understand that I have abused relationships in the past because I demanded more than a person could give, I ask before giving, I talked before listening, and I assumed before they had a chance to finish.
God is different. God models what works best for us with each other. Paul summed it up well.
“Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12.15)