Almost two years ago, I said goodbye to one of the most important people in my life. I held my dad’s hand as tears streamed silently down my face. There was a crazy jumble of emotions inside of me; relief that my dad was finally free from an incredibly painful experience, sadness, loss, concern for my mom, pain for my kids… And in the middle of all of it, this big question “Why?” was bouncing around my brain.
Actually, I don’t know that this was really the question that I was asking at all. I knew that answer – we live in a sinful world, and because of that, awful things happen. The question I think I was really asking God was, “Why not?” Why not step in and heal my dad without taking him to heaven? Why not spare us from all this pain? Why did that guy recover from his cancer, and my dad not, even though he was so healthy otherwise? Why not?
To this day, I don’t think I’ve gotten a clear answer for that question. I received a question in return. “Do you trust me?”
This is me being honest. For quite a long time after my dad died, it was hard to trust God. I knew I needed to. I knew what I still believed to be true about Him. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust that He was still in control of the situation. It was this… every time I would read a passage from the bible where I saw the word “good” in relation to God, I had to wrestle to believe that. Trust in His goodness, even when He allowed me to lose one of the best relationships in my life? How?
Again, not a lot of answers. “Do you trust me?”
Really, that period of time seemed to signal a shift in my relationship with God. Up until my dad’s cancer, I would say, I had a pretty painless life. I mean, there were things that came up here and there, but for the most part, it wasn’t too difficult to say that I trusted God. It didn’t take a lot of effort to claim that truth for myself. Of course God was good!
Yet suddenly I struggled to voice that. Do I trust Him, in the middle of leaving our classes in Missouri to come home and watch my dad die? In the middle of my kids’ pain at losing their grandpa? In the middle of trying to raise support to get to West Africa? More recently, in the middle of breaking an ankle right as we are in a busy time of needing to meet up with people and share about our ministry? Although, to be fair, it’s not God’s fault that I’m a klutz. There’s still that thought though… You could have stopped it and you didn’t. Why not?
No answer there. God doesn’t owe me an answer for that. Maybe someday He’ll give it, but it certainly isn’t because I deserve it. Just like I didn’t deserve Christ’s death in my place; or grace, mercy, love, the air that I breathe today. I don’t deserve these gifts, but I have them.
This is getting long, but I really want to share this last thought.
As I was turning all of this over in my head, I pictured a little girl, about 4 years old, huddled up under a bush at the bottom of a really tall tree. Outside the bush, there is a raging storm going on… lightning flashing, thunder booming, rain just pelting down – this little girl’s nightmare.
Suddenly she hears a voice calling her name through the storm, and she sees the outline of a familiar face. Her daddy! He comes closer, and reaches out for her, knowing that she’s not safe where she’s hiding. The little girl pulls back, not wanting to be out in that storm, not knowing that hiding under a tree in a lightning storm is dangerous.
He calls her name again and asks her a question, “Do you trust me?” She nods reluctantly, and inches out into his arms. The rain immediately begins to sting her skin, and the thunder and lightning seem to grow even more wild. She huddles against her daddy’s chest, shivering, and begs him to stop the storm. He could, but he doesn’t. In the past, he has, maybe he would another time, but right now, he doesn’t.
The little girl doesn’t understand why he doesn’t, but she doesn’t realize something even more important. He doesn’t have to stop the storm, because she is already safe with him. She may not be happy at the moment, she may not be comfortable, she might even be pretty miserable, in that moment, but she is safe with the one she put her trust in and he’s taking her home.
That little girl and I have a lot in common. We both want our Father to make it stop. We want to say, “Yes I trust you, now it’s over right?” But we are both forgetting the most important things – He’s got us. He loves us. And He’ll never leave us to struggle, hide or cry on our own.