Lesson #1 in Trust – my word for 2021.
I’m writing this from Cook Children’s Hospital watching my daughter eat a cafeteria food dinner. Just 3 days ago, she endured a 5 hour spinal fusion surgery. One for which the doctor told me they would have a neuro line to continuously monitor all her limbs to make sure her brain was still communicating to them. I wanted to plug my ears and say, “la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you”. I’m that mature. I prefer to stay blissfully unaware of things like that.
The morning of Shelby’s procedure, I tearfully hugged her and asked my husband if we could change our minds. I knew a slow (6ish weeks) and painful recovery awaited her. Since they would cut through her back muscles, hard work awaited her to be able to rebuild enough strength to sit up, stand and support herself. And trying to make our special needs young lady understand that she can’t bend, twist or lift for a while sounded impossible.
And yet I knew that the 64 degree curvature of her scoliosis could not go untreated. It would eventually impinge on her vital organs causing immeasurable complications and eventually death. Could we have avoided this painful process for her. Yes. For a while. Is she better off going through it? Absolutely. And I request that some of you remind me of that more than once over the next few weeks.
I imagine God might feel this way at times. Difficult circumstances in our lives can be direct consequences of our own actions. But more often than not, we don’t understand why certain things happen. Can the all-powerful God protect us from anything bad ever crossing our paths? Of course He can, but He allows that which will benefit us or someone else in the long game.
I won’t pretend to know why God does what He does. If I completely understood Him, He wouldn’t be God. He’d be just like me. And I’m not someone you would want to create and sustain the universe. But I did find a few possible explanations for our sufferings in the New Testament.
- To be able to relate to others and comfort them with the comfort we’ve been given. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:6 NIV
- To develop maturity. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV But don’t beat yourself up if your “monster” doesn’t leave you joy-filled. We are allowed to grieve and express those true feelings. “Considering” it joy simply means that you know God is in control and therefore you know He will bring some good out of it.
- To turn our hearts toward heaven. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 NIV We all work extremely hard to be comfortable here. Each new invention and modern convenience supposedly makes our lives easier. When we struggle, it reminds us of our eternal hope – a perfect place in the presence of our Savior.
- To teach us to depend on God and not ourselves. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9 NIV With the touch of a keyboard we can seemingly find the answer to almost anything. It becomes pretty easy to think we can handle almost anything. But when things happen beyond our control (death, illness, job loss, relationship drama, natural disaster to name a few), we often lean harder into Jesus. And that’s what He ALWAYS wants, whether we face an annoyance or a catastrophe.
- To bring glory to Himself. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3 NIV God can use anything to show us or someone watching us more of who He is. And the more people who understand His majesty and might, the more people come to a saving and life-changing relationship with Him.
The surgeon told us Shelby would probably be 2 inches taller with her spine in proper alignment. I will be curious to see the difference once she is able to stand fully again. And just like Shelby, the most growth often happens through painful things.
And now for this week’s featured post!
Have You Lost Your Joy and Happiness? by Maree Dee struck a chord with me this week. Maree’s way of speaking truth and encouraging simultaneously reminds me of the way Jesus taught. Visit Maree at embracingtheunexpected.com. It might be just what you need.
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