A very sweet sister we know from our church; passed away Saturday night. Sabrina had been battling cancer for quite a while... and the Lord finally took her. Her funeral was held today, and though I was unable to make it, she was on my mind constantly. It brings tears to my eyes to think of her 3 young children being left without a mother to help raise them. Over the past few days I've heard people say things like, "Only 31 years old..." and "It's hard to understand why God would take someone so young who has people in her life who need her." It IS hard to understand sometimes. But, God is God. That doesn't change. His reasoning and His choices are far above our understanding.
As I was pondering this today, my mind went back to a very dark time in my life. Before Benjamin was born, I suffered 3 miscarriages. All within the first 18 months of our marriage. Psalm 56:8 says, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” That scripture certainly takes on immense meaning when you have cried as much as I have. During those couple of years, I wept so much that I thought surely I would run out of tears. To think that God keeps record of each one is astounding to me. He must care for us so much deeper than our minds can even comprehend.
When I was still in high school, my mother gave me a book to read that she said, "changed her life". The book is titled "The prisoner in the third cell", and it is indeed a "life changing" message. The book is very thin, and the story is of John the Baptist and his experience in prison. When John the Baptist was thrown into prison and Jesus didn't SEEM to care, I can not imagine how he must have felt. Reading that story, I always think to myself, "I wouldn't understand either. I would have been confused as to why Jesus would go around healing people all over, and yet, leave me (the one who preached and prepared the way for Him) to rot in prison!" John sent a couple of his disciples to question Jesus and ask if He was "the one" or if they should "look for another." Of course, Jesus told them to go and tell John the miracles they saw Him perform- that the blind saw and the lame walked... and then He ended His answer with this:
"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
And whenever I read that sentence for the first time, I just stopped. And I thought,
"Wow... that has never even crossed my mind before... but... have I ever been offended with the Lord?...
"Am I offended with Him now?"
That's a serious question to consider. I remember lying in my bed while in the midst of losing one of my babies, and I was thinking, "Lord, I just don't understand. You KNOW I've always wanted to be a mother. That has been my number one desire growing up. Why would you continue to take my babies away from me when there are girls out there; getting pregnant out of wedlock and complaining because they don't even want their child?! Why would you let them have a baby, and not me?!" I knew these thoughts were not right. I knew I was offended with the Lord. Did I still trust Him? Yes. Did I still know He was in control? Yes. Was I offended that He would put me through that? Yes. Deep down in my heart, I knew I was.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I talked to Him about it. And I was honest when I prayed. There was no point in sugar coating it with God when He already knew the truth. I would just sob and sob... and I would say, "God, I AM offended... but please help me not to be. I want to trust in your decisions so much that I am okay with you taking one of my precious babies away. I want to realize that every second of life is a GIFT from you, not a debt you owe to us." I would often pray for hours, just crying and pouring out my heart to God... the only one I knew who could heal me. And He did.
I handed Him a heart that was broken into a million pieces. I couldn't begin to put it back together. To me, it looked impossible- and quite frankly, without the Lord, I know I would have wanted to end it all. That is how deep my depression got. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread, and that thread was Jesus. He was the only one who could pull me out of that dark pit of sorrow. He embraced me. I felt Him do it.
There have been 2 times in my life that I can remember feeling a unknown physical presence embracing me, and as I was weeping, curled up in a fetal position on my bed that day, I felt Him do that to me. God had never been more real to me than He was at that moment. Is that why I had to endure the suffering? To draw me closer to Him? I don't know. God knows. God knows the reason. It isn't for me to know. But, as I admitted to Him and to myself that I was deeply offended with the Creator of the universe, He took that away from me... and gave me peace.
I believe that Sabrina had that same peace. I heard her testify in church many times that she was okay with God not physically healing her, if He chose not to. If she was like me, she probably had to remind herself of that daily and accept that peace all over again. Offense has a funny way of creeping back into our hearts after we think it's long gone. For awhile, it was a daily decision I had to make. To say "yes" to my Savior's plan for me, and to continue holding His hand.
When I lost my third baby, I felt an urgency to pray to the Lord for healing, so I did. I believe God provides healing in many different ways. And for me, He led me to the correct doctor to find out what was causing my female problems. I believe sometimes, God provides us with the knowledge to "heal" ourselves. My obstetricians, midwives, and fertility specialists couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, but, God led me to a chiropractor (for a different reason), who found a curvature in my spine that explained my problems. I began receiving treatment, and shortly thereafter, I conceived Benjamin. In a way, I feel blessed to have experienced the love and loss of a child. I now can better understand how difficult it must have been for God to surrender HIS son to a brutal humanity, who would ultimately crucify Him. God's love so exceeds mine, so I imagine that his grief would as well. Perhaps I got a very small taste of His sacrifice, and its significance.
God views death differently than us. I truly believe that. And I truly trust Him.
Today, I am not offended with my Lord.
These are 2 of the best books I have ever read. (Same author) Definitely both on my "top 10" list.