Monday, May 29, 2017

Anything but this...

When the children were young and we were so very deep in debt there was no way out, when we were forced to one inescapable conclusion - that we had to declare bankruptcy - I groaned inside. "Oh God. Anything but this."

But of course it happened. And through it, I learned about mercy, and grace, and forgiveness, and provision. I learned which people were our friends and which ones didn't want to have anything to do with us because they judged us. I learned how God can take the most awful experiences of our lives and teach us lessons we need to learn: how to live within our means, for one thing. 

When the government came after my husband and took him to court - and we had no money to fight them - when they broke every promise they made to us when he stood trial, I closed my eyes and said, "God. Anything but this." But it happened anyway... and through that experience we learned the pain of being falsely accused with no way to fight back, and we learned who stayed, and who judged. We also learned even more about God's provision, and were given even more opportunities to forgive.

When our child was injured and had to undergo surgery - when she faced unjust treatment by one health care professional after another - when she was declared disabled ... I dropped my head to my chest and sighed, "Oh God. Anything but this." But through that experience we learned how to ask for what we needed, how to accept help, and how to see light even in the midst of darkness. 

When our other child rebelled, hung out with people who were in trouble with the law, stole for them, stole from us, and finally wanted to leave the province, I ached inside ... "God. Please. Anything but this." I was so scared, felt so rejected. But ... she left anyway. And through her leaving, I realized that the hedge of protection that I had placed around her no longer protected her because she had chosen to leave. At the same time, and probably BECAUSE of that loss of protection, I learned how to trust Him for all things, how she needed to be away from that protection to see how bad things were "out there".  I learned how to let go more and more of my need to control the outcome, and how to develop a relationship with her that grew more and more precious in such a short time. And I knew the joy of seeing that same child embrace a vibrant relationship with God - something she never would have done had she stayed. 

When she got evicted and had to live in her car, when she fought fatigue, sickness, hunger and cold for days and days ... making her so exhausted she fell asleep at the wheel and was killed ... I cried in anguish, "Oh GOD! Anything but this!!"  But of course, through the searing pain of loss, I learned the sweetness of God's presence, the wonder of true friendship, the amazing impact of her legacy the more I told her story, and the empathy that allowed me to be there for someone else who lost her own daughter not long after that. 

More and more I am convinced that God uses the darkest, most terrifying experiences of our lives to show us His great love and to make us stronger for whatever is around the bend. I have learned this through the things I have gone through, usually kicking and screaming like some petulant child. He is patient with me. I am learning.

Photo "Doctor In Surgery" by
taoty at
When my brother got cancer, and needed to have surgery, I knew by then that God was going to work something amazing out of it all. And He did. The surgeon got all the cancer. There is none left. Sure, there are physical problems still, and it is hard, but God has this under control. 

When my mom got dementia and went wandering one day last month, and had to be put into protective custody in the hospital, part of me went to that place of fear: "Dear God, no. Not this." But this time, I didn't stay there. I started to see how God was working even in the midst of this horrible thing in our family. I can see God's love in the situation even while she waits, still wanting to go home, to be placed into a nursing home - the last place she ever wanted to go. In spite of all of that, I have confidence that He will make a way in that wilderness just like He did with all the other barren places I have mentioned, and way more besides. 

He does this because He loves us. He LOVES US. Not because there is anything we've done or not done - but because He WANTS to. That's it. No more than that. 

And I am sure that He will amaze us all. And that He will delight in His lavish love when our jaws drop at how good He is to us.

So ... when people ask me to pray for God to take something away from them that is hurting them, or hurting someone they love, I will pray - of course! But I pray for God to do the same kinds of miracles that He did for me and for us, ... for them.  I pray that He shows them His presence not only with them, but IN the whole situation. I pray that they have peace, that they will learn the joys of letting go of their situations and clinging to Him. That they will realize that He is right there with them.  

I have seen too many miracles happen "in the midst" to believe less than that. 

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