Maybe There’s a Good God
A friend of mine is a therapist. Sometimes she tells me about difficult conversations, painful stories, helpless moments. She’s always careful to keep things confidential and to protect her clients, of course, but even nameless sadness needs to go somewhere. Sometimes she asks me to pray. And I do. Pray, that is. Because I almost never know what to say.
Today, another difficult story. Horrible in all the usual ways, the usual contours of pain, loneliness, despair. A lifetime of trauma, a lifetime of being told that and treated like they had no value. Feel that life isn’t worth living. Feel abandoned by God. What use are words in the face of such a life, such an experience?
There’s a notification on my phone this morning. An album I had pre-ordered is available on iTunes. It’s Arcade Fire’s new one, Everything Now. One of the songs is called “Good God Damn.” I scanned the lyrics while thinking about this dear soul who feels abandoned by the world and by God.
You wanna get messed up, when the times get rough.
Put your favorite record on baby, and fill the bathtub up.
You wanna say goodbye to your oldest friends.
With a good God damn.
With a good God damn.
Lay out your clothes, it’s time to go.
It’s always darkest before the dawn, but the sun never shows.
It was an expression of despair that seemed grimly appropriate after the story of the morning. The sun never shows. Yes, I imagine that’s what abandonment must feel like. Just like that.
But the song takes an interesting turn from its initial bleakness:
But maybe there’s a good God, damn.
Could there be a good God, damn.
Maybe there’s a good God.
A curious little comma, that one. Maybe at the end of it all, there’s goodness. Maybe the sun does show. Maybe there’s a welcoming embrace for the lonely people, the falling apart people, the easy-to-ignore and discardable people, the people who have given up on seeing the sun. Maybe divine mercy is, finally, as strong and as sure as we need it to be, however long it is in arriving.
Maybe God himself knows what it is to feel cast aside, rejected, despairing, abandoned. Maybe somehow God draws near to these little ones in a way that only someone who has descended where the sun doesn’t show can. Maybe this is how a good God works. Damn.