God pulls out a book with thousands and thousands of pages and lays it on the table (for the tech geeks reading this…cough, George…pretend he pulls up a spreadsheet on his MacBook Pro). He flips several thousand pages in, and shows you the text that explains the details of your birth. He flips backward a few hundred pages and shows you the day that your parents first met. Forward again to their wedding day and you see the vows that they made to each other and their decision to have children. He goes back to a few dozen pages after your birth to your first spanking. Then he cross-references your emotions of that moment with your mothers guilt and feelings of failure. Back again a thousand pages to a scene where your mom was beaten mercilessly for breaking a family heirloom and she swore she would never hit her own child. Forward again to the scene when you were 17 and you were arrested for vandalizing a bridge, all the result of my mother never again disciplining you when you disobeyed. Again and again, God showed you these progressions of time and events. He showed you the time your boyfriend broke up with you because you wouldn’t give in to his request that night in the back of his car. For many pages afterwards, every event is marked by your feelings of sadness and rejection. You speak up then, “God, why didn’t you help me back then? You knew my heart would be broken, and all because I was trying to be a good girl. Didn’t you care about my happiness?” He just flips forward a dozen pages to a scene between that same boy and another girl. She is crying because she doesn’t know what to do about the pregnancy. He tells her it isn’t his problem and advises her to just take care of it because he has a reputation and a future to protect. So on the next page she walks into a clinic a scared little girl, and walks out a shattered woman who will carry shame and regret the rest of her life.
You look up at God and say “I had no idea that is what you were saving me from. I was so angry at you for not answering my prayers for all that time. I understand.” And this is how the time is spent. Looking through moments of sadness, joy, anger, loneliness, and ignorance and seeing how each time was tied to a series of other moments in your life and in the lives of others. God flips to the middle of the book, to the section headed “The Present.” He shows you where you are in your stage of life, with your career, your community, and your relationships. You put your finger on one conflict in particular. “This,” you say to the Lord Almighty. “Why am I going through this?” He flips back to a poor decision you made years before and you are able to connect it to the long-awaited consequence you now face. “Oh, I see.” You sigh. “So this is what has to happen?” He nods. “I have to accept it then. But could you help me? This is going to be hard and I don’t want to go through it alone.” God puts a hand on your hand and says, “of course.” You pause a moment and then say, “And could you show me how I can make it right?” He flips forward to the next page and you see exactly how. A few pages more, you see how everything has been made right again.
Next, you come to the page marked “The Future.” You don’t understand why God is allowing you to see this and you aren’t even sure you want to, but curiosity gets the best of you. Besides, you have big dreams for the future. Forgetting that the allknowing God is sitting right beside you, you think a quick prayer. “Just let my kids be healthy, my marriage strong, my friendships longlasting. I hope he gets that promotion so we can buy that house. Oh and let my sister be healed of her suffering. Amen.” You look at God and you begin. He shows you what will happen next Friday. “My son’s two year checkup?” you ask, with fear in your eyes. You go on to read about how a routine test shows something abnormal. You read about 6 days of doctor visits, procedures and scans that give a prognosis that shatters your heart. Leukemia? God pulls you into his arms and he hugs you. Every emotion races through you now. Confusion…he has always been so healthy. Guilt…its my fault. I should have bought organic foods. I shouldn’t have drank artificial sweetener when I was pregnant. I should have nursed longer. Anger…why him? Why us? Its not fair. Fear…what if he doesn’t make it? I won’t survive if something happens to him. Sadness…I don’t want to see him in pain. “I can’t go through this,” you tell God through your tears. “You will make it through, and I will be there for you every step of the way,” he says, and with one hand he thumbs through the pages. Slowly, your tears dry up as you see the healing come. You even laugh once as you read about how one time in the hospital, your toddler plays peekaboo with an angel that only he can see. You sigh with relief when you read the words the pediatrician says 18 months from now. “The cancer is gone.” You look up at your heavenly father, “I’m sorry that I don’t trust you. But why do we have to go through this?” The Lord shows you in the book the numerous people that you meet at the hospital. You see that there are some children that don’t survive. There are families that divorce under the strain of the diagnosis. God shows you how you are able to help those other families. You can see how much more love you show your son through his life. When he wrecks the car on his 18th birthday, you are just relieved he is safe. You can already feel your heart swell when you read about his first day as a Pediatric Oncologist.
You go through your entire life. For every struggle, pain, circumstance, you are able to see the reason for it and how God uses it in your life and the lives of others. When you return to your life, you are able to walk through every event and see it through God’s eyes. There is no fear because you know how it all turns out in the end. Its nothing you would have ever asked God for. We ask God for blessing, not pain. But we can understand why it is necessary and we are then able to appreciate God for the ways that he comforts us through those times.
Of course this is not how real life works. If God spelled out the reasons why things happen, it would require no faith from us. We would not spend hours on our knees in prayer. We would not turn to God when things made us feel scared, sad, lonely, and anger. But if we could just trust that there IS a reason for our circumstances, we can sooner learn what we need to learn, minister to those who lack faith, and love others how the bible commands.
I’m not sure I will ever be strong enough in my faith to ask God to give me difficult circumstances so that I may become more like him or minister to others in a similar place. When George and I first decided to have children, I would not have prayed to have three miscarriages. I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone, especially myself. I never thought that I would be in this place, but I am thankful that God allowed me to go through that. Of course I miss my three babies terribly and I long for the day when I can sit with them in heaven and finally hold them in my arms. But I’m so glad that I have been able to speak with so many women that I love and help them through their pregnancy loss, even if all I can provide is the knowledge that they are not alone. What I can do, is pray for God’s will to be done on earth, just as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). And when difficult times come, I know that God will be with me no matter what. As it says in Matthew 28: 20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (italics mine). Sometimes God gives us insight into why bad things happen to us, even before they are resolved. For me, I believe that God has revealed to me why He has allowed certain things to plague this time of my life. It doesn’t change the difficulty I experience, but it does give me hope for the future and it helps me to get through the day. If you have asked God for understanding and He has not given it, just “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) and wait patiently. If there is some challenge you are facing that is well beyond what you can handle, take a few minutes to read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 (see it here ). It is my favorite bible story.
Check out this beautiful song!