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It's easy for others to give us advice. It may even be great advice. But unless they have been through some hard times themselves, words can often seem hollow, can't they? I like to listen to people who have passed through deep waters.
I've mentioned before that we had twins born with cerebral palsy. One of our twins, Alex, passed away at the age of four. His twin sister, Elisa, is now 24 years old. She is having a crisis with her faith. She appreciates sincere people and their prayers, but essentially she has told us, "Enough is enough. I have to accept this condition that I have and not have people pray for me anymore." I do understand what she is saying. I don't fault her at all. It would be easy for me to say something like, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way." But I don't live in her body and don't have to deal with the realities of her daily condition. At least, not in the way she has to.
It's hard for me as her mom. I've prayed for her countless times and will continue to do so. I know that God is bigger than cerebral palsy. I know also that sometimes people aren't healed, for whatever the reason. I don't want to live in an agitated state with God. I know how kind He is. I have to leave my questions with Him. I can trust Him, even in my darkest moments.
We also have a ten year old son who was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare, genetic disorder. At the time of this writing, he is the only one in the state of Iowa with this condition. There are a whole host of issues that are present with this diagnosis. There is also the possibility that his condition could worsen.
So, I've found myself at times bargaining with God. I'll say things like, "I'd like You to heal both of my children,but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Nathaniel. Elisa's condition won't worsen as much as his could, so please heal Nathaniel."
It's funny how I would think that God would require me to choose. I guess after all these years of not seeing Elisa get better, I feel the need to strike a bargain. I can imagine God saying back to me, "Do you really think I would force you to make a choice? Do you think I'm like that?"
No, I don't really believe God is forcing me to make a choice, but it can seem that way sometimes.
I've went round and round with this situation in my mind. Oftentimes, I am busy with school or things at home. I will just have fleeting thoughts about the whole situation. At other times, I'm filled with such sadness.
Sometimes, when I'm walking down the stairs in our home, I'll say, regarding Elisa, as my foot touches step one, "If for some reason healing is not in her future, for whatever the reason, could You just heal her hip?" When my foot touches step two.... "Could You heal her feet?", then on step three..."Could You maybe heal her hands?" God must often wonder about how stingy I seem to think He could be.
His love and compassion are limitless. I'm bound by what I see or don't see so much of the time. If I don't see it, then it must not be happening. If I do see something, then, "Whew, what a relief. I thought You might have forgotten me." Sometimes the pathway is so smooth and beautiful. I can rest and take in all the sights around me. But other times, the road is so rocky. I have to carefully watch my steps. I fall down and cry and wonder if God is near.
My walk with God reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places. The main character, Much Afraid, has told the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) that she will follow Him anywhere, no matter the cost. But she is disheartened at His choice of Guides to accompany her on the journey - Sorrow and Suffering. She shrinks away from them at first, but the path is so hard that she ends up reaching for their hands. As time goes on, she finds that not only has she changed, but her name has changed as well. Her two Guides have also been transformed and at last, she has reached the High Places.
No one ever said our journey would be without a cost.
As moms, we begin a journey with our children. At first we are their provider and protector. We kiss and hug away all the hurts. We wipe noses, read books together, take walks, and watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob.
But then, it begins to change.
Now, I'm not sure what my job is anymore. Sometimes I don't know what to do either. I can't make these situations, like Elisa's, better at all.
I can only speak the truth of who God is to them and to myself.
Even when I look up at the sky and wonder, too, if God is really there, if He really hears me, if He is aware of me and my children.
Yes, He is there. Yes, He really cares. Even when I am unaware of Him, He is beside me. Everyday He gives me strength to accomplish all the tasks I have to do in regards to their care. Sometimes at the end of the day, I'm even a little surprised at all I have done that day. But it isn't me at all. I know that all the credit goes to God and His loving care over me.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)
All the tears I have are remembered by and will continue to be remembered by God. The things that cause us to cry are noted by God and collected by God. My tears and your tears are precious to Him. Maybe He pulls out the bottle one day and remembers those tished mes with us. Maybe He shows us how He was present when we cried. I don't know. But I know that everything He does has a purpose for our good.
Whatever you may be facing today, you aren't alone. I pray today that God will show you how He is there with you. Maybe this is the darkest and loneliest time you have ever faced. Maybe you are wondering if God is even there and if He is there, does He really care about me? He really is there and He really does care about you and everything that has to do with you.
Part of the reason that I am writing down these thoughts is for the sake of remembrance. One day, if Elisa were healed, I will reread these lines and remember.
Whether Elisa is healed or isn't doesn't lessen the importance of who she is in our home. It's not that I won't be happy unless she is healed. It's just that I believe that God is a God of healing. It is part of His name and part of His character. The Bible is full of instances where Jesus had compassion on people who could not walk and healed them. I don't hold a magic ball or have some inside track of God's plan. But I do believe in and won't change my mind about His kindness.
And so, maybe, one day I will read these words again, but the circumstances will have changed in an incredible way.
Until then, I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is aware of me and my tears. I believe He knows what He's doing. I believe He is walking with me and daily giving me strength and grace. I believe He loves me far beyond what I am aware of at this moment in time.