Wednesday, May 01, 2013

When you don't understand what God is doing

I have a heavy heart these days.  So weary and heavy, but at peace, because God is always good. 

My dear friend, Kari Bennett, who is only 1 month older than me, who sang at my wedding, who has been a tireless homeschool support friend and guide, confidant, sister, middle-of-the-night counselor, road trip chum, Classical Conversations champion, has been sent home from the hospital with hospice care.  The doctors have said she has 2-4 weeks, possibly less, before cancer finishes its evil work with her body.

God can still intervene if He chooses, and what a glory that would bring Him!  She is so close to Heaven, the doctors have all their scans and things for proof, they couldn't deny God's miraculous work in her body if He chose to do it.  Let me be clear, I am not double-minded in this point: God *can* heal her physical body of cancer.

But if He chooses to heal her by taking her to Heaven, we will miss her.  Oh how we will miss her.  But we know His ways are perfect, and somehow He will still be glorified!

The LORD will keep you from all harm - 
he will watch over your life.  Psalm 121:7

I've really been wrestling with that...truth.  I must declare it to be truth, I admit I force my mouth to form the words.  It is truth, and yet I wrestle. 

My heart cries out to God, "How could little 11-year-old Selah losing her mother to cancer, *not* be harmful?  How is it alright that Abi won't have her mother at her wedding?  Oh Daniel... Kari is Daniel's biggest fan!  And oh dear Lord, I'm so broken hearted for all their future spouses, they would have had the most wonderful mother-in-law in Kari Bennett... 

"And her husband, who adores his wife, to not be able to grow old with his best friend since his youth.  Kari's parents losing another daughter... oh Father, it's too much.  It's all just too much.  I don't understand why You're allowing this to happen."

But God, in His mercy and grace, His unfathomable loving kindness, gently reminded me that I have been looking at His Word through my own fleshly, selfish, childish lenses.  Using my earthly circumstances to qualify the Word rather than going to God's Word to better understand my circumstances.  Wondering if God's Word wasn't true because of what I was seeing happen around me.  Oh dear Father, please forgive me.

If God says "all harm" then He must mean... ALL harm. 

(the heart whispers, but.... but.... but....)

The hard truth here for me has been that this situation - Kari's cancer, her 3 children growing up without her, her husband trying to survive without her, her parents' anguish, we, her friends, who enjoyed her as part of our daily lives for so long - this situation... somehow... must not be "harm" in God's eyes.  I don't think this means He is oblivious to our feelings, not at all.  But there's more to it.

Something was trying to edge its way into the periphery  of my mind and heart, something that had never occurred to me before.  Indeed, my entire belief system regarding suffering has been shifted on its axis because of this right here:

Could it be that our responses to our circumstances are what harm us, and not the circumstances themselves?

Now.... this would mean that Kari's cancer is not the harm.  Oh the muscles I've used to wrap my brain around this one.

God never did promise us perfect lives, did He?  Well, not earthly perfect.  The Word mentions trials, troubles, afflictions, sufferings, and all manner of hardships.  Here are only a few...

"Hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground.  Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."  Job 5:6-7

"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."  Psalm 119:50

"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction."  Psalm 119:92

Paul's response to persecution is a good example of what our response to trials and suffering might look like.  We don't deny the pain is there. 

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 The troubles will come.  The sufferings *will* come.  But if we believe God... if God is Who He says He is... if His Word is true, then He keeps us safe from all harm.  (Psalm 121:7)

We must look at all our circumstances with eternity in mind.  This life, the trials that come, the pain we suffer, the loss that is so great, we can't imagine how we'll go on...  It is all so fleeting. 

Just a whisper. 

We will experience sorrow, anger, shock, disbelief, mourning, illness, persecution.  All of these are real!  But we must gather those up and run to the Father with them!  Run toward Christ knowing that we need Him now more than ever, and not away from Him in anger. 

We can sit in His presence and *tell* Him we don't understand.  *Tell* him we're hurting.  *Yell* at the ceiling, God's got massive shoulders, He can handle your emotions!  Just *be* there.  Be in His presence.

 "Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Allow Him to minister to your sore heart.  Run to him with your anguish, don't run from Him because you're hurting.  He didn't cause Kari's cancer.  Until sin is gone and death is no more, we will always have cancer.  But God is there with you, never leaving you or forsaking you. 

I think of what Kari might come back and tell us all, if God does call her home and He allowed her to visit for 5 minutes.  When we all get to Heaven, we'll understand. And in view of eternity, which is so vast compared to this vapor we live in, Kari might tell us to rejoice for her - she'll be in the presence of Christ her Savior!  She might tell us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

She might tell us to stop wrestling, and run to Christ.
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