We're in the darkest watches of the night.
Grace's heart failure has worsened as of yesterday. The fluid has spread to nearly every organ and even around her brain. This is a pain that heretofore was unfathomable for me to imagine. I've never been so broken and so sorrowful.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
My heart cries out nearly constantly to the Lord. While we can do nothing but wait on Grace and wait on the next few weeks, our souls wait earnestly for the Lord.
When I was introduced to Matt and Sarah Hammitt's blog from the band, Sanctus Real, who also have a child with a serious heart defect, something he said in one of his posts struck me deeply and has resonated with me since.
After experiencing yet another health crisis with their son and having to head back yet again to the hospital, he wrote that with tears streaming down their faces, he told his wife, "This is why theology matters."
This is why what I believe about God matters.
And it's never more profoundly obvious than in times of deep grief.
I fear that many Christians in our country have a devastatingly flawed understanding of who God is. I'll share a recent example. I noticed a conversation on Facebook in which someone had commented that their child had not seriously injured themselves and someone had responded, "God is good!"
Yes, God is good. But is he only good when things go well? Or the way we want them to? Or the way we think they ought to go?
Jesus himself told Peter that Satan demanded permission to sift him like wheat. But Jesus had prayed for him, that his faith would not fail.
Jesus didn't pray that Peter would not experience it, but rather that his faith would not fail. I fear we've become so oriented to prayers of avoidance that we're woefully ill-equipped and unprepared to handle suffering and testing when it comes. The account of Job is a similar story. Satan demanded permission to try Job, to prove that he would eventually curse God if he suffered enough. And yet, after losing nearly everything of value (his children, livelihood, health, friends, reputation), he said, Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. Another translation says, Yet will I trust in him.
What we believe about God matters.
And what we believe about God is often revealed in times of suffering. If we've had a belief and understanding of God that he is our Wish-granter in the sky, our personal Genie to call upon, someone to manipulate to get our way, then the moment life comes crashing down will leave us reeling and often angry at the image of the god we had created. But it was not the image of the true God described in his Word.
I can truly say, with no pretense, that this experience, every parent's worst nightmare, has deepened our faith and trust in God. I often pray that Satan would not gain one inch of ground in our family and marriage through this. That God would receive all the glory due his Name through this.
I believe with all of my heart and mind that God is sovereign. That he sees the end from the beginning. That his love is unfailing and his kindness is inseparable from who he is. Like I heard today, He is immutably loving. Unchangeably loving.
The apostle Paul, after describing the crushing and afflictions they were experiencing, said this,
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
- 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18
I do not downplay our pain. These days I weep as easily as I used to laugh. My heart feels crushed. But truly, daily, moment by moment, his grace is sufficient. His power is at work in us, accomplishing in us what we simply could not do on our own.
And at the end of the day, I trust him. I trust the Lord Most High. Creator of everything seen and unseen. The one who has prepared an Eternity that makes the beauty of this world shrivel and pale in comparison.
For from him and to him and through him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.