Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh me of little faith...

When I was born, my life was uncomplicated and happy. I likely made it to the ripe old age of one or so before I realized that life had conflict and problems. It doesn't take us very long to realize that life is not perfect, not even close. We face problems constantly, from the small and manageable, to the large and life altering, the ones that make you laugh to look back on, and the ones that make your stomach hurt to even think about. A life riddled with problems is not the exception to the human experience, but rather its the rule.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. There's no method to how life's problems are divvied up among us. She gets hers, he gets his, I got mine, and none of of us got the issues we got because we deserved them more then someone else. Mary didn't get off easy because she was better then Bob, and Bob didn't get so much more to deal with because he was worse then Steve. That's not how it works. Our life's circumstances are not determined by whether or not we're deserving of them or not, if that were the case, we'd all have horrible, sad and tragic lives. Because none of us are deserving of perefect lives, none of us get them, but undoubtedly some of us get "better" lives then others, if we use suffering as a measuring stick. Some of us suffer so much more, and its easy to wonder why.

Why did that tornado take his house but not his neighbours?

Why did she lose pregnancy after pregnancy, and her co-worker has more kids then she wants or can handle?

Why did his wife die of breast cancer that was detected early and thought to be treatable, and his boss just survived an operation to remove an inoperable tumor?

Why did our baby die from a condition and surgery that many babies have survived before and since?

When we think like this, its easy to get panicked by the seemingly randomness of how suffering is handed out. Its easy to imagine that God isn't in control really, because surely if he were he'd realize how unfair life is, and how unequally the pain in the world is divided among us all. Millions starve in Africa, while millions are obese in North America, can't God see how strange it all seems? Yes. He can.

We make the assumption of believing its supposed to be fair.

Or that suffering should be shared.

That would be nice, in a perfect world.

But we don't live in a perfect world, we live in this one. And this world is full of imperfection, and hurt and sin, and tragedy, and suffering. Its the price we pay, for simply being human, descendants from the first tragically imperfect people. Life is inherently hard.

So he suffers, she doesn't, they hurt, their neighbours don't, they experience loss, and their best friends experience surplus. It's the way it is. But those who suffer are no less blessed then those who live a seemingly blessed life. God doesn't work like that. You can't tell how much God loves you by counting your material blessings, or by taking stock of your losses. He doesn't think like that. He doesn't sit down and plan your life, before you're ever concieved and think, "I really love Karen, so I'm going to give her everything she ever wants, I'll answer every prayer and bless her with many beautiful healthy children and a happy thriving mariage, because thats how much I love her". Conversely, he never says "I'm not going to be very impressed with Joe, I can see that now, so he'll lose his job, and his wife, and his kids will resent him, and I think he deserves that". That simply isn't how its done.

We're all loved the same by Him. He created each of us to love us, but he didn't dole out our suffering or our blessings, they just happen. And as he watches in Heaven, our lives unfold before us, he weeps when we weep, and he celebrates when we celebrate. And he is there. He walks beside us through each triumph and each trial. And this is where we are all truly blessed. The miracle we can all experience, whether our lives are happy and free from strife, or they are pocked with pain and loss, we can all experience His grace, and mercy, and comfort. We can all lean on Him for strength and love and he can grant us the courage and fortitude needed to endure anything, and I mean anything.

The answer to the question, "how much more can I take?" is this, "as much as you get". You can handle anything, and everything, with Him at your side.

You can endure and endure and endure some more, if you lean on Him when it hurts the most.

Nearly two years ago I gave birth to my precious boys. And when I learned that Everett was sick, very sick, I started to pray. We prayed harder then we ever prayed before. For healing, for a miracle, for Everett to recover and for our fears to be put to rest. We prayed that we would not have to experience the pain of losing him.

When we has 20 days old, Everett could take no more. His heart was sick and tired. His lungs were sick and tired. His body was so sick, and so very tired. And when he was 20 days old, leaning over his bedside, I prayed to God to not take him, and I whispered pleading words in Everett's ear and begged for him to not leave me. And when he was 20 days old, he left.

Crumbling into pieces as I left Sick Kids for the last time, with a bag of belongings to remind me of my boy, and a shattered heart and broken soul, I felt angry with and abandoned by God. He didn't answer my prayers, he didn't make him well, and he didn't spare me from my hurt. And in the following months after Everett's death, I was angry. I made it up in my mind that either there was no God at all, or He was unkind, and unfair, and that I didn't need to believe in either of those scenarios. There was no comfort in it.

But as the months went by and I turned by back on God who did me wrong, I felt lonely, and hollow, and pained beyond words. I felt agony that could not be relieved, and one day I heard Him whisper to me, "lean on me". It sounds crazy, but I heard it, over the sound of my own sobbing, I heard a call to come to Him and be comforted. And reluctantly, and with great skeptisim, I did. And I was relieved.

And that was the miracle I never prayed for.

Whether or not I believed that God was there and loved me, I was still grieving and missing my baby. That would have happened to me no matter what. God didn't do it, life did. I was dissapointed because I had misguided faith. My prayers werent' answered because I prayed for the wrong thing. Rather then pray for healing, and for the outcome that I wanted, I should have been praying for the strength and comfort to get through whatever happened, if I had have prayed for that I would have seen immediately that God was there and with us through it all.

Every day since that day, I have had endless amounts of comfort and grace and love available to me. Salve to my wounds. Medicine for my soul. Each and every day. When the pain hits, like it often does, He is there to bring relief, and that is a miracle we can all have if we pray for it.

How much more can I take? I used to wonder this.

I still wonder this.

And now I know this to be true, "If He leads you to it, He will get you through it"

Just ask.

Oh me of little faith, I should have known.


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