Last night I spent a few hours in the hospital with a friend whose son is being treated for aplastic anemia via a bone marrow transplant. We were discussing how interesting it was that we spent the 4th of July with them, watching fireworks, BBQing, laughing and having fun, and none of us had ANY idea that within a couple of weeks, their eldest son would be admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening disease.
But isn't that true for every tragedy that happens? No one EXPECTS a heart attack. No one plans to have cancer. No one schedules a broken leg. No one anticipates death.
We go through each day thinking about tomorrow. We plan meals. We schedule appointments. We book vacations. We sign up for little league. And why not? We all assume tomorrow will come. It does not matter what we have seen or experienced ... the human condition is filled with a type of arrogance that says we DESERVE tomorrow. We should HAVE tomorrow. And not only should we have it, but it should be exactly as WE planned it to be.
How often do we complain because something does not happen in our time frame? We do not get the house we want. We do not get pregnant when we want to. Our children do not read when we want them to. The car breaks down. We cannot afford the vacation we want to go on.
Scripture says, "The heart of man plans his ways, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs.
This is a verse I repeat to myself over and over because I am a person of control. I have an order and plan for everything and it is all supposed to fall in line. The Lord has had to work on my heart in this area since I was in college and He continues to work in me today .... sometimes with gentleness and sometimes with intensity because I am not obedient to surrender my life and my will to Him.
And then I find myself sitting in a hospital room with a mother who is watching her child suffer ... a mother who does not know what tomorrow holds ... a mother who has to cling to the promises of God because she cannot change any of it. She did not plan to sleep on a hospital chair for 6 weeks. The mother next door did not plan to have her 6-year-old relapse with Leukemia, filled with steroids and living in the hospital for the next 8 weeks or more. None of the parents in that hospital want to be there. All of them would trade places with their children in a moment. But they can't. The Lord is using these tragedies to bring them to a place they could not get to on their own. Some trust Him and rest secure in His promises. Others are angry and do not understand.
And as I sat there watching, thinking, listening and praying I felt overwhelmed with the sense that regardless of all that was happening around me, God was still God. It really is that simple. We either believe who He says He is or we do not. We do not have to understand. We do not have to like it. We do not have to see it coming. But we have to trust. We have to trust because there is no other way to find peace. Our hearts and minds are driven my emotion and logic and when tragedy happens, logic disappears. There are no simple answers and we certainly have all control taken from our hands which leaves us feeling desperate and helpless.
But GOD IS STILL GOD.
He is faithful. He is just. He is real. He is merciful. He sees our tears. He knows us. He wants us.
It is easy to praise God when life is what we want it to be. But we are called to give thanks in every circumstance ... which is usually when we least expect it.
I am so thankful for the time I had with my friend last night. My perspective was broadened and my faith was encouraged. I still remember very clearly the night I delivered our son Matthew who had already gone home to be with the Lord. I would never have chosen that ... I still long for my son ... my heart still grieves for him. And last night as I looked at the parents in those rooms, holding the hands of their precious children, who may or may not live to see adulthood, I was thankful that I love and serve a God who loves those children more than those parents could ever begin to understand. He watches over the sparrow .... He holds His creation in His hands. There is no better place to be.