Isn’t it so easy to ask that question? “God, why are You allowing this? Why don’t You answer our prayers?”
I wrestled these questions a week ago, and they continued to taunt me for several days.
A week ago I was hospitalized for pregnancy complications. Before that I was on bed rest at home for three weeks. This is our second difficult pregnancy, followed by a baby we lost.
Besides the roar of worries about this little life in me, there are the anxieties about leaving two children at home, both so young themselves. And then the challenges of being hospitalized in a foreign country.
We’re missionaries in Ukraine, and this is my fourth hospitalization in four years. I’ve been here a week, and it could be several more weeks before I go home.
I’ve shared in the past that health problems are the biggest challenge for me as a missionary. The system and approach to healthcare are different than we’re used to. And public hospitals in Ukraine are not nearly as comfortable as in the U.S.
I’ll confess to some tears, anxiety, even fear. I’ll even be honest that I’ve felt sorry for myself and our family since I was admitted. But I’ve also been asking God to show me His purpose in this time. And He’s been speaking.
I began reading a book called One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. The style is a bit more poetic than my taste, but the truths she writes have impacted me deeply. She writes of learning thankfulness in the small and large, and especially in the hard times in life.
Today I’d like to share a few quotes from her book. I pray they speak to you as much as they did me.
“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?”
– Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
“When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?”
“That’s my daily work, the work God asks of me? To trust. The work I shirk. To trust in the Son, to trust in the wisdom of this moment, to trust in now. And trust is that: work. The work of trusting love. Intentional and focused. Sometimes, too often, I don’t want to muster the energy. Stress and anxiety seem easier. Easier to let a mind run wild with the worry than to exercise discipline, to rain her in, slip the blinders on and train her to walk steady in certain assurance, not spooked by the specters looming ahead.”
“Perhaps the opposite of faith is not doubt. Perhaps the opposite of faith is fear. To lack faith perhaps isn’t as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God.”
[referring to God hiding Moses in the cleft of the rock as He passed before him]: “When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving away, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: it is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging his perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look. Then we look back and see His back.”
“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because he knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of Thanksgiving.”
– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts