Yesterday I shared a post from a place of deep gratitude that my kids are okay. Friday night I got a text from Kaleigh saying that she was going to the emergency room. She was out for a walk with her mom, and had a tightening in her chest. Her left hand was tingling, and she broke out in a cold sweat. She said later that it felt like her heart had stopped for a moment. Given her ongoing health issues - an autoimmune disease that we've been trying to treat for several years - the possibility of a cardiac event raised immediate concern. At the emergency room they ran a number of tests - x-ray, EKG, blood work. The doctor said there was no sign of anything wrong, and sent her home. Since that time, she has felt better. (Big thanks to the emergency room team at Kettering Medical Center.)
Then on Sunday night I got a call from Alex, asking about our roadside assistance information. He said that he'd been driving back to the summer camp from a staff party, and they were going through heavy rain. He hydroplaned, and went off the road. There were no injuries, though he and his passengers were pretty shaken up.
As any parent would be, I was extremely thankful for the outcomes of both of these incidents. Every parent's greatest fear is that something happens to our kids. I'm so glad my kids came out of these events okay, and in my post, I expressed my thankfulness for God's protection.
But in the midst of my own gratitude for my kids' safety, I was reminded that not all events have these same outcomes. I think of dear friends who have lost children - whether by disease, or accidents, or even suicide. Does that mean that God wasn't there when these parents were praying?
What if the outcomes this weekend had been different? What if Kaleigh's event had been an actual cardiac incident? What if Alex or his passengers had been hurt, or worse? Would that mean that God hadn't been with them?
I'm reminded that we live in a world where hurt, pain, and death are still part of our reality. These realities invade all of our lives - yes, even praying people. Jesus stated the fact very simply: "In this world you will have trouble." We shouldn't be surprised, or assume we've been abandoned, when these things happen.
In the class I taught at the college about spirituality and healthcare, we dealt with the question of Why. We talked about how people who are going through sickness, injury, and death often ask, "Why me?" I suggested to my class that a more appropriate question is "Why not me?" As long as we live in a world of sin, these things are a part of our reality. And as such, I know that throughout my life painful things will happen to me, as well as to everyone I know. Knowing this doesn't change the hurt when we go through these things, but maybe it takes us back to an understanding of the world we live in.
I believe that the things we experience in this life can only be understood when we recognize that there is a battle going on in this world. There is an enemy - Satan - and he is responsible for the hurt, pain, and death that we experience. John, in his first epistle, said, "We know that we are under the control of the evil one." We are in the midst of a controversy between God and Satan, and the enemy is doing all he can to bring pain to God, and to his children. The war won't last forever. Scripture promises that the day is coming when sin and death will be no more, and every tear will be wiped away.
Until that day, God promises His presence. He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." He promises His Spirit to comfort and strengthen us when we hurt, when we don't get the answers to our prayers that we would wish for. He's still there. Our great need in those moments is to trust Him, to turn to Him with our pain, our sorrow, our questions. One of my favorite songs says, "When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart."
I'm thankful today that my kids are okay. I still believe that God had His hand on them over the last few days. But I still have questions. Why have dear friends lost children? Why is my daughter still battling this illness? Why are there so many things that cause us hurt and pain? But I'm thankful that scripture tells me that "God is love." Maybe, ultimately, that's all I really need to know.