This morning, I am fresh faced, hair still wet from an overdue shower. My legs are crossed as I type and my eyes still a little puffy from yesterday’s news.
Thoughts are running through my head like, “Why is God making His children suffer?” “When will we have a break?” “Will we ever feel normal?” “Are His promises really true?”
We’ve got two kids with the same rare disease. Since they receive treatments at the same time, that means we must deal with double results at the same time. Sometimes, it’s double the joy. Sometimes it’s a heartbreaking split. And sometimes, our world crumbles when they both get bad news.
Facebook reminded me that 4 years ago this month, our oldest was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. As I read my emotions from a post back in 2012, I wanted to go back in time and hug that girl. I wanted to tell her the reality of the journey, about the arduous road ahead. About the people who wouldn’t understand or the ones who would gossip or compare or walk away.
But, I let her be. Because I remember that girl prayed for 4.5 years to get a diagnosis. She knew her firstborn baby was sick, really, really sick. And she fought until that day. And she’s still fighting.
I wish I could tell her that six months later her second child would be diagnosed with the same disease, but I couldn’t. Would she still have believed that God is good?
I decided to let her have that moment in time, when the diagnosis was the victory, and the hope she had in Jesus’ power was enough to carry her through.
Yesterday, just for a moment, I forgot that God is good. I knew that He was good. I’ve seen His goodness. But present tense good? Like right now? Today?
It’s not easy to wrap my mind around His goodness when we continue to witness our children suffer with what we call an invisible disease, a disease that no one can see on the outside. The ups don’t last long enough, and the downs linger too much. Chronic illness is a beast.
I didn’t do a good job gathering myself before I needed to pick up my youngest (healthy) child from pre-school. I didn’t want him to see me cry, but there was no way out of it. My body wouldn’t hold back, as if the involuntary response was the only way to breathe. I faked a smile, gave my blondie a big hug, and pretended life was normal, only long enough to get to the van and turn on a movie. I couldn’t face his innocence or his vibrant health. I was hurting so much for the other two who no longer have either. For this moment in time.
Even normal tasks, like buckling a child in a car seat or preparing food, are immobilizing when you’re faced with digression of disease and bad biopsy results. I wanted to freeze in that moment of time, with the movie to occupy the unsuspecting three year old, until I was no longer numb.
I drove in silence, then forced myself to make food. I decided to sit on the porch to eat, hoping that sunlight and the soothing sounds of nature would calm my soul.
For some reason though, in that moment, sitting wasn’t enough. I needed my Bible and to feel the presence of Jesus.
I opened the good book and positioned my salad for an Instagram picture, and in that very moment, the wind blew, strategically landing on Psalm 103.
He heals diseases. It said.
He redeems our lives from the pit. It said.
He gives us good things. It said.
He will restore our youth. It said.
Tears stained the wooden deck, and with a strong yet silent voice, I said, “No He doesn’t.”
He doesn’t. I’ve asked Him to heal disease. What good things can I see? When will He restore these childhoods that have been replaced with the murky smell of hospitals, surgeries, pain, emotional distress?
While my head knows these are merely rhetorical questions, I could feel my heart try to close. I could feel it pushing HOPE out because hope hurts too much.
Put up that wall, McKenna. It won’t hurt as much next time.
But, it was in those quiet moments that the Lord impressed this on my heart. THIS is the time when all of my KNOWLEDGE of God must guide my heart.
My knowledge of God’s goodness keeps my soul faithful when my heart doesn’t believe it.
I remember reading stories in the Bible about the people that waited for answers much longer than I have, stories of people who have endured insufferable amounts of pain.
I know people personally who have encountered much more than I can comprehend. So these words I write will never be about comparing their struggle to mine, or mine to yours. Struggle is universal. And struggle is real.
I think of the friend that has been abused. I think of the friend who lost her husband for the sake of war. I think of the mom who lost two of her three children. I think of the friend who lost her husband to a senseless act and is left with three boys to raise alone. I think of the friend who feels purposeless. I think of the friend whose past is so dark that she believes sabotaging her future is the only way to survive.
We ALL have our “thing.” This is mine, and that is yours. Mine cripples my soul and makes me question the goodness of the God I love.
But this God. My sweet, sweet Savior. Let me tell you about Him. He can handle me. In fact, He sees my struggle and He loves me BECAUSE of it.
He didn’t give me a physical answer yesterday. He gave me more promises. And more truth. And peace I didn’t feel before. I found these things by CHOOSING to be still in front of Him.
And today? He gave me a new dawn. In that new dawn was a renewed faith that He will follow through on his promises, whether on this Earth or in His perfect place called Heaven.
In this place, there will be no tears. Can you just take a second with me to take your mind there? ABSOLUTELY NO TEARS. No pain, physical or emotional. No jealousy, no gossip, no judgement. No bad decisions, no debt, no crossroads.
Heaven is HOPE.
When my earthly hope fades, God reminds me that he has PREPARED an eternal place for me. He prepared it by sending the only son He had to die a death he didn’t deserve.
All hope is NOT lost.
It may feel devastating. It may be unfair. It may be expensive or draining or monotonous. Life can do that. Because life is hard. And because we live in a fallen world.
But it is NOT LOST.
God sees us. Each and every one. He knows our story. He made us. And the benefits of loving and trusting Him far outweigh the “freedom” of trucking through life alone.
I leave you with a song I wrote yesterday, only hours after hearing of the biopsy results.
“Because He Loves Us,” as inspired by Psalm 103:
Forget not the things that He’s done / Forget not all His benefits / Forget not the love that He gave / Forget not the blood that He shed
Because He loves us / Because He loves / Because He made us / Because He made / He wanders in the wilderness just to hold his child / Because He loves us, yeah, Because He loves.
He pursues me when my heart wanders in the wilderness of self-pity, sadness, and confusion. He will RESTORE the years that have been taken, so that we can taste and see that He is GOOD.