“Following Jesus is a lifelong journey, filled with glorious mountaintops and low, dark valleys.” – From She Reads Truth, Hebrews Study
Since our loss, I have found that I have become more fearful for Riley’s life. There are many nights when I will feel completely gripped by terror, as horrific images enter my mind of something tragic happening to my sweet daughter. It makes me feel panicky as I try to swallow the reality that God could actually let that happen.
I’ve had to ask myself a lot lately: How do I love and serve a God who could let my children die? Who did let my child die? Who is letting children die in horrific ways in Iraq. It’s scary that He could choose to allow every single one of my children to die young. That feels so scary. I don’t feel very secure. In most other difficult experiences in my life someone or something else has hurt me or let me down, and it has driven me into my Savior’s arms. But what about when it is my Savior who let me down? I don’t have a stable foundation to turn to, and it makes me feel like I have no footing. Which kind of makes me freak out.
It has been difficult for me to not just try and hold God at arms length. I can sing in worship, telling God to take all of me and have all of my heart and all of my life. But the real song of my heart is singing, “All of me, except for this pregnancy. You can’t have this baby. All of me, except for Riley. I can’t bear the thought of anything happening to her. All of me, except for my trust.”
The crazy thing is, I’m acting as if I just learned something new about God. That He may allow my children to die. As if He deceived me somehow. But I’ve really always known that! I knew that God can and does allow horrible things to happen. He allows pain and suffering and death. And He has been upfront about that from the beginning – all you have to do is read the Bible. That is how we learn about who He is and How He works, and the pages of scripture are chocked full of bad things that happened that God did not stop. No, He has not ever deceived me to believe that He wouldn’t allow these things to happen. Up until this point my theology of suffering wasn’t weak, but my experience of it was.
When I married Jordan four years ago, there were things I thought were true about him that are, there were things I thought were true about him that simply were not (wait, he’s not going to romance me and try to sweep me off my feet 24/7?!), and things I knew were true about him but I just hadn’t fully experienced yet. In marriage, both spouses learn things about each other through the experience of doing life together. If you see something that surprises you or something you don’t particularly like, I suppose you can walk away from that person. But if you keep walking on in your covenant with that person, you will find more depth and beauty on the other side of the learning curve as each of you get to know more of the real person that you married and you stick by them (or so I’m told!).
So I find myself in a similar place in my walk with God. He sure isn’t going anywhere and, by His grace, I’m not going to either. I hadn’t fully experienced this part of who God is yet. And I don’t know what this part of Him means for how the events of my life are going to play out. But here I am. I’m trying to piece together the puzzle after the picture I had put together has been completely shattered. I believe that there is more depth and beauty on the other side of this, and I thirst for the taste of it.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. – Hebrews 5:8
Even God’s own holy son Jesus Christ was no foreigner to suffering. He was not exempt. As a matter of fact, he took on the full wrath of God, a form of suffering those of us who call on him will never need to know. I take great comfort in that today.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.