My mother used to say that God protects us by not allowing us to see the future. Jesus himself told us that "each day has enough trouble of its own."
We arrived home, after a two-day drive back from Eastern Washington, on Saturday evening. I had not spoken to my son, K., for a couple of days, but our last conversation had not been promising. He had seen the doctor and was back on antibiotics for a new infection.
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The verdict is in, and it is not a good one. He was taken back off work last Friday and will have to have another surgery as soon as possible. A week from today he sees the surgeon for the exam and to set the surgery date.
He is discouraged, and understandably so. I am not exactly jumping for joy myself. As we talked (and wept together) he vented his frustration and fears, he also voiced his doubts. His doubts about God's love for him. About whether God truly cares about his situation.
Again, this is understandable. Due to the nature of his injuries and the required surgery to repair the aorta to his heart, he was told there was a small chance (about two-percent) of becoming paraplegic after his auto accident twenty-seven years ago. He became one of the two percent. Then five more surgeries, double amputations, infections, hospitalizations, a never ending struggle as the years of his young life rolled by.
But he never gave up. He never quit. And he rarely indulged in self-pity. He was nineteen at the time of his accident. He is in his mid-forties now; and this time it is different. He is tired. He is worn down from struggle and pain and disappointment.
He showed me the cards his students had given him last Friday, as he explained that it was his last day at work, because the doctors had told him he could not continue. He cried when he told me how kind and sincere his students had been about missing him and wishing him good luck with his "next operation." Dear Lord, in his case there is always a "next operation". Or so it seems.
However, this time is different. The surgeon told us ( I was with him during the first consultation a few months ago) that if they had to operate again, it would be the last time. He has "no more spare parts" as the surgeon put it.
Small wonder he is experiencing doubts. We Christians like to put on a good face, we like to shoulder our burdens with some dignity, and maintain a stiff upper-lip when we find ourselves unable to maintain our joy.
Nevertheless, here is my real hope and my honest conviction. God is bigger than my son's doubts. He is stronger than my sorrow. He is greater than the sum of our fears and disappointments. He "remembers our frame and knows we are but dust." He takes into account that our lives "are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14 NIV)
And He cares. His love is ever present, unchanging, immutable. It is only by his grace that I can face K.'s doubts and maintain that God is good - all the time, in every circumstance - including these in which we now find ourselves.
This dilemma of "how can a good God allow such pain and suffering in this world He created?" is not new. Job faced it. C.S. Lewis wrote about it in both The Problem of Pain (a rather abstract look at the issue) and later in A Grief Observed (a raw and broken personal account after the death of his wife, Joy Davidson.)
We all have doubts. But some are brave enough to face them, own them, acknowledge them. Some do battle with their own doubts. I always think of the man who said to Jesus, "Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24 NIV) Now that is an honest doubt.
Jesus did not reject "Doubting Thomas" - he simply met him where he was. If you have your own doubts today, He will not reject you either. He will meet you where you are, where you live and struggle and reach out for hope and strength to meet your day.
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I am reaching out for hope for K. and for strength to face the day. Thank you for your prayers. Hope your day is hopeful, too. Until next time ... Marsha