Some days are rougher than other days. Some days I don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I then God gives me one more thing. And another.
I asked my wife if maybe we live on an old nuclear testing site, or a sacred burial ground. If I listed every health issue that my family and I have gone through, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Most people don’t. Most of what I do in Emergency Rooms is try to convince the doctor that, yes, we really do have these rare disorders. It was much, much harder to do before everything was computerized. Now if we can only get them to look at charts….but I digress.
And I wonder. Why yet another thing? Why do I spend hours at the doctor’s? It seems to me that there is so much more I could be doing. I have people to visit, books to read, sermons to prepare, writing to do, communities to be involved in…
But I am sitting in another doctor’s office.
As a disclaimer, I don’t at all begrudge my family for this. I love sitting with my wife and daughter when yet another thing strikes. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I know that if I am not there to advocate for them, they would be ignored or not believed.
A broken arm or a nail in the head is believable. You can see it. Doctors are good at things like that. We, my family, never get those. Our are the diseases that they tell you about in medical school. One doctor said that he spent 6 hours in a seminar on it, and then they said, “But you won’t ever find anyone with that, so don’t worry about it.” But I digress.
My father used to tell me that my business is always with God. And that is where I wonder. I have questions and I want answers and I wonder.
I don’t resent my family. They suffer more that I do, and my heart goes right out to them and I want to just take all of this away. But I can’t. I see other people running and swimming, camping and biking. I see other people traveling and golfing and hiking. And I think those days are over for us. (This isn’t about fitness and essential oils, by the way…)
But why does God continue to inflict? Why is it one massive thing right after another?
So I cry out to him. I beg him for mercy. I want answers. But it seems as if he is so silent.
And then I remember that he isn’t silent. He answers the curse that is on the world with the cross of Jesus. God became flesh and took all of this on Himself. He laid it on his only-begotten son (these two sentences do not contradict. They resolve in the mystery of the Trinity. “The word was with God and the word was God”).
There is a curse on the world. By man, death entered and reigned over all. But by Man came the resurrection from the dead. United with Christ in resurrection doesn’t come without union with his sufferings. We are only just tasting that in our family.
Why? I don’t know. I know that we all are one aneurism away from the grave.
We are one virus away from death. One aortic rupture. One spontaneous colon rupture (which I’ve had, by the way – but God spared my life).
And then I remember that this world isn’t our home. This world is “under the sun”, what our forefather called “the valley of tears.”
So I stop. I look up. I remember.
(My daughter lost her ability to smell. She said, “That’s OK, Daddy. I’ll smell things in heaven…”).
I try to remember that but my heart hurts for her.
I try to remember that we will run and hike and stand and walk and sing in the new heaven and the new earth; I try to remember that I will run hand in hand with my wife through the hills in the new earth when our bodies are made new, and that gives me peace for another day.
And I try to remember that God’s grace is not promised to be sufficient today for everything he will bring on me tomorrow, but it is promised to be sufficient for whatever trial he brings me at the time.
My father told me once that worrying is useless. He said that everything he ever worried about never came about. I agree that worrying is useless. But it is a bit different for me. Everything I have ever worried about actually did happen, and worse. But worrying is useless because of the sufficiency of God’s grace and the fact that I am a creature, and do not hold the world in the palm of my hand.
I am still anxious though. I still fear. I still wonder. I still want answers.
And He responds as he always has, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And it is.
I used to think that this meant that he won’t give me more than I can handle. But that isn’t true at all. I have had more than I can handle over and over and over again.
And when I get another blow that I can’t handle, I want an answer. I cry out. I have no idea how to take a step or what step I should take or if this is the right way to go, or if I should just stay, or if I go the the ER again knowing that they most likely won’t be able to help or if I should not go and perhaps watch a loved one decline until it is too late and I could have fixed it but I trusted the wrong guy and what do I do now and I just don’t know………..
And then I stop. Breathe. I try to understand that it is actually too much. My life is not held in my hands. My wife’s life is not held in my hands. My daughter’s life is not held in my hands.
We are all one aneurism away from death, and that won’t change by any decision I make or fail to make. All I can do is the best that I can, which usually isn’t all that great.
There is so much I don’t know. And far more weeping ahead. I know that ahead there will be more suffering and more death and more pain and many, many more questions.
So here is what I’ll try to do.
- I’ll try not to get involved in disputes that aren’t mine. I have too much already, and God hasn’t promised me grace to get involved in other people’s disputes.
- I’ll try to remember that today has its own worries. The amount of emotional energy I have been given is limited. It is enough for my day today, my circle today, my family today, my congregation today. God will replenish that for tomorrow, for his grace is sufficient for me.
- I’ll try to remember that “I will smell things in heaven.”
- I’ll try to remember that there is not one person who cried out to God for mercy who did not receive mercy.
- I’ll try to remember that God still sends rainbows.
- I’ll try to remember that I’m human, and when it is all too much for me, that is OK. I wasn’t made to be a god. I was made to rest in the arms of another.
- I will try to remember that the day will come when I will again say goodbye to someone I love and it will wrench my heart again.
And then I will breathe. I will eat some pie – but sugar free, my body still won’t cooperate with what I want to eat. But I will have great pie in heaven.
I will listen to some music and maybe find something new.
And I will continue to cry out, and continue to wonder, and continue to want answers.
But I will try to remember that God hasn’t promised me to answer all my questions. He has promised much tribulation, but after that we inherit the kingdom.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.