I watch from afar as they go through the hardest days of their lives. In mid-December my dear friends lost their 10-year-old daughter suddenly. She’d been sick with the flu, home with family all week while they were out-of-town having medical tests run. When they returned home she was rushed to the ER. Within hours she was gone. Blood poisoning. Another dear friend lost her 24 year old daughter before Thanksgiving, a week later another friend lost hers too.
What do you say in a time like this? “God will work all things for good, you’ll see!” “God’s got a greater glory, a greater lesson to be found in all this.” It’s the normal cliché that we so often hear in times where we don’t understand. We want to make sense of it, say something that will make us feel better. I mean after all how could a good God allow this to happen? There’s got to be something spiritual and deep to make it have meaning.
It’s true you know. God does have a plan in all things and He does work it all for good. But what does He really think about what has just wrecked their world? Did He do this?
I heard it often taught that everything that happens to us filters through the hands of God. It can’t touch us without His permission. The reference given was when Satan asked to have his way with Job and God gave permission.
As bad things came into my life I convinced myself that I too was being tested to see what I would do. It put a picture in my mind of a God who just waited while I suffered to prove something that needed to be proven or grow something that needed to be grown to receive some kind of glory.
How did I really believe all that I now wonder? How can a God who inflicts pain in order that He might receive glory be a God who loves? The two don’t mix you know. I can’t believe it all anymore as I watch things happening around me.
It leaves me contemplating my own thoughts with my own children.
I would never put my children through difficult things to make me look good or to make them grow more as a man or woman. The truth is I want to shelter them from hard things before it reaches their door step.
My daughter was 12 weeks pregnant when she went to see the first ultrasound of her growing child. They went in expecting to see a tiny, squirming baby but instead found an empty sac. My heart broke as I watched her ache in this world where things happen and babies die. I would never have wished that on her. I would never choose that for her.
I am a mere reflection of a God who says “my child”. After all I was created in His image.
He aches too. For none of this is what He wanted. This is not the way He set life to be lived on this earth that He created for those He loves. Sorrow and suffering were never part of the “in the beginning God created”. When that first bite was taken, of the fruit that was forbidden, paradise became badly broken.
I consider God as I watch my friends grieve from the inside out. What must it be like to look down on that which you created with a plan for life and watch it slowly die? What must it be like to watch those you cherish so dear ache so bad? Surely He must weep for me, for you and for them.
There is no way I can believe what I was once taught. For I am convinced that He anguishes as He watches His beloved live in a broken world that He never had in mind.
God came to heal the broken-hearted, to bind up their wounds. Jesus said He would release prisoners from their captivity and turn ashes into beauty.
He never mentions lessons to be learned.
He comes with arms that hold tight and a heart that grieves, and somehow, someway weaves the threads of pain into something deeply beautiful.
Where is He in the midst of life that bears the unbearable?
He is where I am when my child suffers. As Jesus wept for Mary and Martha overcome in their sorrow, He weeps for you, for me and for my dear friends who are so very lost in the depths of their sorrow. He gathers up their tears and places them in a bottle beside Him. He bears them up and holds them tight as He whispers constantly…
“Lo, I am with you always.”
©copyrighted: 2013; Julie L. Todd