An expression that came to me years ago, and that I have polished with use over time is the simple statement, “I can work with that.” I imagined initially and have even come to believe more convincingly since then that this is what God says in many of our challenging, regrettable, or grief-laden experiences.
I first heard these words at a time in my life when the early debilitating stages of chronic illness had ended my plans for an academic career, and it seemed highly doubtful that I would be well enough to consider any other alternative employment in the short or long term. As devastating and dark as those days of uncertainty and loss were, it also seemed to me that God was saying, quite simply, gently, and encouragingly, “Don’t worry. I can work with that.” God could work with my dead ends, broken dreams, physical suffering, and precarious future.
It has likewise seemed to me that many of us over a lifespan face times either when we have made choices that have been less than wise or life-giving, or when we have encountered circumstances beyond our control that have caused us much distress. When that happens, we may feel like giving up; we may feel defeated; we may feel alone. But I sense a gracious, personal God being neither defeated nor disappointed nor indifferent. Rather, God looks at us with the eyes of love, the commitment of a compassionate heart, and the will and capacity to be engaged, to stay connected, and to respond to what is rather than what might be. God says, “Never mind. I can work with that, too.”
Like I say, I have polished those words with use over many years–several decades by now since they first came to have meaning for me. They say something about a generous, capable, relational God. They say something about how even our worst experiences can be shot through with grace. They say something about hope. Not only does God never abandon us, but God never refuses to exercise divine creativity with our earthly dross, discouragement, or despair.
If this resonates with you at all, when in your life might your ears have been tuned to a similar persistent refrain, “Don’t worry. I can work with that”? I have dozens of examples in my pocket so far. Most of them turn into rather remarkable stories, if I follow the threads long enough.