I suppose part of a “suffering” experience is feeling far away from God. Lately I have often thought about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, his petitioning his Father to “take this cup from me”, the feeling “forsaken” on the cross…and of Job when he cried out “If only I knew where He might be found!” I have identified so well, with these sentiments, as well as some of David’s Psalms these last several months.
Scarier than feeling pain, is feeling nothing, I think. For several weeks now I have felt just that. Maybe this “nothing” is God’s grace, a survival mode of sorts to be able to function in spite of heavy circumstance. Whatever it may be, it has been a strange place.
But I can already see the fruit. My empathy-meter has reached an all time high. I am slow to judge, and quick to identify with another’s pain. I am more forgiving of weakness in others as I have experienced it myself. And I “see” with new eyes, with His eyes, all of the hurt around me.
It has been a hard pill to swallow, all this coming to terms with things I never thought I would have to consider…all this sharing of Phoebe and realizing that she’s really God’s, I mean really, really His. And I have scraped bottom more than once. I have completely lost my marbles in a tiny ER room and found myself incapable of stopping the tears despite embarrassment. I have had crazy visions of pulling all the tubes and wires off my daughter and just making a run for it to God knows where.
I have had words from the Lord that left me soaring for days and moments when I just know that everything is going to be okay. I have laughed so hard I cried at Phoebe’s silly talk in the wee small hours and I have let those tears become sadness in the very next moment because I can’t bear the thought of losing her.
It’s been enough to make a girl feel like she’s a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. And then with an undetectable, subtle shift, something breaks open. A small crack of light peeks through the nothing and I can feel a little bit of joy. I see the purpose in the nothing for the first time. It hasn’t all been for naught. And that’s as far I can see right now, but it’s something, and it feels a little bit like hope.
One of my favorite online devotionals is http://www.adisciplesnotebook.com
and this is what I found there tonight;
God’s trusting child may say in times of trouble:
FIRST: He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that will I rest.
NEXT: He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.
THEN: He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
LAST: In His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.
Say: I am here—
(1) By God’s appointment.
(2) In His keeping.
(3) Under His training.
(4) For His time.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you; and you shall glorify me.
Psalm 50:15 (ESV)