Always good...or never good

We know from all his writings that Paul trusted not only that God is sovereign, but also that his character is faithful and good (1 Thessalonians 5:24). It's critical for Christians to believe this, too. Why? Because without these additional attributes, we could view an absolutely sovereign God as a potential big bully. If I can't trust that God is always good and faithful, then God goes on trial with each particular circumstance of my life. I become the doubter who's like the waves of the sea, always being tossed about (James 1:6).

Of course, it's easy to say I'm confident that God's faithful when I've escaped a negative situation, but is he still faithful when the friend I've lifted up in prayer for more than 30 years has never returned to faith in Jesus? Or when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and had to face chemotherapy? The truth is, either God is faithful and good in all these situations, or he's faithful and good in none. How we decide between these opposite choices determines whether we live with confidence (and peace) or anxiety. ~Ruth van Reken at Confident Living

This is the deep lesson of the past year - the year of surrendering Amelia: her life, her quality of life, her safety, her delightfulness. Either God is still good in this, or He is not good in anything. As she walks away from me on the dusty orchard road hand-in-hand with her papa, I reflect. In retrospect, it is easy to see His blessings of this past year. Her smile is crooked now but it is still her smile. Her eyes are crossed sometimes, but they are still the limpid pools of a wise old soul they have been since she was born. When she finds it impossible to walk, she skips instead.  How am I at skipping when walking is impossible??

And these other three...the three who watch Mama wheeled into surgery after surgery and wave goodbye from the porch when she leaves for cancer scans and treatments...the three who help Amy up after a seizure, who wipe up her vomit while I watch her breathing, who come running in the dark night to wake us when she is flopping at the edge of the bunk...oh how my heart aches for these. Who suffers more, I wonder? Those who are in the middle of the pain, or those who must watch and tend and worry and pray?

She turns four. It is a whole year later now. A whole year that we cannot ever get back. A year in which, by God's grace, homeschooling went forward, and children learned what they needed to learn (in books and in life). The choices are so full of heaviness, you can feel the weight of them as you turn them over in your mind in those last moments of the day as you pray in the dark, wrapped in your husband's embrace, monitor purring in the background with the sound of children's slumber.  In those moments when your mind is completely alone on a precipice of Faith, is God always good or never good?

Are you clinging, or pounding your fists on that Rock?

She has a partial complex seizure from the stimulation of running up and down the straw bales at the orchard. You lay her down, straw hair on straw bed, and she smiles up, the crooked, seizure smile, the eyes that don't quite track together, the stiff little limbs. Somehow, through all of this, you've taught her to smile when she is seizing.

The verses echo through the weeping-wrung emptiness of the hallways of your soul...

He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. (Ps. 72:13)

No one who is living and has faith in me will ever see death. Is this your faith? (John 11:26)

The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (I Corinthians 15:26)

The end of the day...this momentous birthday, the one we were given a 50/50 chance of ever seeing her celebrate.  I click through the images in my camera, and realize afresh how many moments have been stolen already by the small deaths this illness has brought.  Yet, in the balances of the Truth and Universe, how many more moments have been gained...moments that would have most certainly been ignored, taken for granted, or spoiled by pettiness and smallness of mind, had God not allowed us to suffer the near-loss of this precious daughter.

I close my mind, and I see the birthday present, with a big bow on it: TODAY.  Every day for the past year.  365 gifts.  Counted, noticed, beloved...because they are broken, bruised, crooked, tenuous.  Praise be to the God who is always good...always faithful...always near...always listening, loving, lavishing.


holy experience