No Good Can Come From This
EDIT 2022: My views have totally changed since this posting. I simply don't think this way any more. But leaving it here because it's where I was at the time.
God is good. All the time.
There was this mom of three boys. Just as her oldest was graduating high school and her youngest was beginning high school...when she could start carving out some real time for herself and her husband, she felt the lump. Breast cancer. Aggressive. Chemo. Dense dosing. Neuropathy? Not good news for someone whose job relies on her hands.
There was this other mom of three boys. She loved them more than words. At the same time, she prayed for a girl. She felt strongly in her heart that her family included a little girl. But it just never happened. A few false alarms. Miscarriages. Maybe she was wrong about the girl. After all, she's over 40 by now.
There was this teenage boy. He had been orphaned and abused for years on end. Finally adopted, he despised the people who cared for him and who showed him unconditional love. "What's love, anyway? I don't even know what that means." Trust no one. Get close to no one. Look out for number one; isn't that what everyone else is doing? Your so-called "love" must have a catch.
There was this teenage girl. She hated herself. She thought everyone else hated her, too. She saw herself as a burden, not a joy. She would hurt herself daily, leaving lasting scars as reminders. She just wanted her life to be over and she made attempts to end it. She hated God. "Fine, 'God doesn't cause evil to happen, He just allows it.' Well, even if He's just allowing this, He's an asshole."
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4–5)
This week, the first mom gets this news: "Your MRI indicates a complete resolution" of the tumor.
The second mom has not only become a mom to a precious girl through fostering, but 7 days ago, gave birth to a (surprise!) baby girl.
The boy? He's beginning to know and accept love. His entire countenance has altered and his heart is softening. Today, for the first time, he stood on the other side of the planet, face-to-face with the biological brother that, less than 5 months ago, he didn't even know he had. (They've talked twice a day every day since summer. I wish you could see the photo of these brothers together. I don't think I've ever seen a smile that genuine in my entire life.)
The girl is finding herself. She's realizing her value. She still struggles, but fights through it. She has her family, true forever-friends, her amazing school, her church family. She's experiencing True Love. And she's chosen to accept that Love. Not only accept it, but proclaim it and follow Christ in baptism this coming Sunday.
The timeline of suffering in these examples ranges from 1 to 18 YEARS. God certainly doesn't follow my preferred timeline or methods. And I won't be so Pollyanna that I fail to mention that sometimes, the cancer kills, the child is never born or even dies, the orphan doesn't know love, and the girl ends her life. Faith IS trusting when something is beyond understanding. Faith is holding on to hope even in the darkness.
Each of these stories are from a small handful of people I consider my closest friends. The girl, of course, is my own daughter. Let me tell you, some of these stories include vile ugliness I won't even write about. I can't adequately express the dark places we have been. There have been times when it seems there is absolutely no light. Hopelessness. Despair. Not everything in each of our lives has turned out the way we want. Even today, there are still unanswered "whys." We all still have major struggles, setbacks, and pain ahead of us.
But God. But God. But God offers an oasis in the desert. He offers grace in the midst of us cursing Him. When I find myself running from Him or feeling like he's turned His back, all I have to do is stop and see he's right there. Beside me. In front of me. Carrying me. It reminds me of a song we sing/sign at church. I can't get through the lyrics without tears because of the depth of Truth:
Behold the Man upon the cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers
It as my sin that held Him there
until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.
God, just like our Prayer Request page from the adoption, I want to use this week to remind me of Your faithfulness despite what seems to make no sense and even appears cruel at times. Thank You for being patient with my doubt, my anger, my apathy. Thank You, God for such crazy-amazing reminders over the past 7 days. It's truly been an incredible thing to witness.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. ...So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18)
We just finished reading about the life of Adoniram Judson. Every night I would have to tell Dan the newest part of the story we had read that day. I was amazed at the suffering that followed this man who had given up everything to tell the Burmese people about Jesus. I even said, "You know, you sometimes want to say 'God, what in the world?' Here is someone who has done what so few are willing to do. Where is his blessing? When does he get a break?" I finished the book thinking how blessed we (the Perrymans) are. Even in living on the other side of the world away from friends and family, our daughter with a lifelong life-threatening disease, news of friends in very hard situations needing our prayers. There's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says something along the lines of "What else do I have besides you?" It's so true. What else do we have besides God? Not the assurance of good health, safe surroundings, or happy endings. But we always have Him. And somehow, He lets us know that is enough.
I have prayed for your precious daughter and am celebrating her decision to be baptized and follow Jesus. I know your mommy's heart is full of joy in this moment.
Reading this for the second time this morning because I LOVE God stories! And I know a couple of folks you're referring to! But I rejoice with ALL of these mercies...we are part of the same family, knit together by grace whether we meet this side of heaven or not. BUT GOD, indeed. Praise Him.ReplyDelete
Thank you, I needed that. There is nothing scarier than seeing your child struggling. Thank you for your transparency and the reminder of what makes the difference.ReplyDelete
I have been praying about adoption for years - pretty much since I stumbled on your blog just as you were traveling to get your boys.. Dh not there - yet. But G-d...