Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to Trust, Part 1: In Tragedy

Note: If you haven't, you might want to read Learning to Trust, Introduction: The Secret to Trust.
God bless!  ~ Rachel

“What’s cancer?”
A seven-year-old girl sat with her Daddy, confusion written across her face.  This child, though always old for her few years, struggled to grasp the meaning of her father’s words.
“It’s a serious sickness,” he replied.  “There are lots of different kinds, but they are all serious and have to be treated by the doctors.”
“And Mommy has it?”
“Yes.” He cleared his throat, “I have this book to read with you.  It will help explain what’s going on.”
The girl only glanced at the book, “Mommy has cancer?  Do people die from cancer?”
“Yes, Rachel, but Mommy will be alright.  It’s just going to take a while.”

I only vaguely remember having this conversation with my Dad.  I recall him reading a book with strange illustrations that explained cancer to a young child.  I remember the lady who came to cut and shave away my beautiful mother’s dark hair.  I remember the many play-dates with my grandmother and friends so my mom could go to the doctor’s office.  I remember bottle-feeding my infant brother when my mom was busy or resting and the foul smell of the formula.  I remember not going to church very often because we couldn’t bring germs home.
But, much more, I remember fear.
This wasn’t the fear I felt at the pool when I slipped off my little raft in the deep end when I still couldn’t swim.  This wasn’t the fear of strange dogs that might attack me.  This wasn’t the fear in my imaginings of being left behind in a store or having a strange man kidnap me while mom was paying at the gas station.
This was real fear.
A fear that held me tightly for several years into the future.  I was eleven years old by the time I was willing to stay at a friend’s house overnight… and even then, I was afraid that when I came home my Mom would be gone.

This was one of the times that it might be hard to look back and say, “Thank you, God.”  This is something that could cause my hands to close and to wonder, “Why, Lord?”.  No mother of four should have to think about who will care for her children if something goes wrong, should she?  No man of thirty-two should have to think about losing his lover and wife, should he?  No little girl should be tormented by fears of her mother being stolen away, should she?

To answer that question, I will have to tell another story.
Two girls of eleven years rode their scooters down the steep hill of the rode.  Each carried a small dinner in a sack.  In only a few minutes they reached their destination.  The green grass sloped straight in front of them and they sat down by a line of pine trees.  They ate in silence.  The house has been closing in on them; the hum of the television, the dark rooms, the quiet.  This was better.  The outdoors.  As they licked their fingers at the end of their simple meal, they both, once again, scanned their surroundings.  They stood and walked only a little ways before one spoke.  Her blond hair blew about her face as she murmured the words to her friend.
“We’ve already chosen the place here.”
Her friend nodded in silence. The blond girl found her friend’s gaze.
“You know, my birthday is really soon.  My Mom will probably be gone before then.”
Her friend looked out over their chosen place to eat their meal: the cemetery.  Hundreds of engraved stones stood around them.  It was peaceful.  She wished they could stay longer instead of going back to the house.  The house where death seemed to linger in the air.  She had come to be with her friend every day that week.  To talk with her… to be silent with her as her mother slowly slipped away in a nearby room.
The two friends parted later that evening but would soon meet up again.  This time at their church.  At a funeral.  A beautiful woman, inside and out, was finally laid to rest after an intense and lengthy battle against her sickness.  The girls embraced, exchanged a knowing, understanding glance, and then parted.

How can someone open their hands to this?  How can this be a blessing from a loving God?  Gruesome picture: my friend and I sitting in a cemetery talking about her mother’s death… knowing it to be inevitable.  Walking along the pine trees, waiting for the death of a Godly woman.
We want to shut it away… close the hands and the heart.
But wait!  We’re only seeing part of the picture. 
The story doesn’t end here.

Two friends meet again.  They are now almost fifteen years old.  They have both moved to new towns and haven’t seen each other in years.
“How have you been?”  the dark-haired girl asks.
“I’ve been great!”  her friend replies.  “I’m so excited about my Dad getting married this spring!”
“Do you like her?”
“She’s wonderful, Rachel.  I love her.  We’re all so happy.”
The dark-haired girl smiles.  She remembers a cemetery and a mother taken.  She remembers a book with funny illustrations and a mother kept.  She sees her friend’s face and thinks of a new mother soon to be received.

God could have taken my mother but didn’t.  God could have left my friend’s mother but didn’t.  If my mother hadn’t had cancer I wouldn’t have been able to stand by my friend’s side and bear the loss with her.  My friend wouldn’t be where she is today with another loving lady in her life if God hadn’t perfectly orchestrated it all.

So, is everything a blessing?  Including cancer?  Including death?

Nothing comes to us except that which has been perfectly planned within the will of God.
Everything that comes from God’s hand is good.
He has blessed us.
And He will use everything to glorify Himself.

So, yes.  Even when we don’t understand, we are blessed of God. 

I think this is where trust comes in.  I struggled with trust after my mom’s battle with cancer because I couldn’t see the big picture.  I couldn’t see how my experience would allow me to help my friend…  I couldn’t see how it would permit me to minister to MORE THAN ONE friend in the years to come who had a parent battling cancer.  I couldn’t see how the thought of losing my mom gripped my dad’s heart and turned his life around.  I couldn’t see how it would light a passion in my father’s soul to serve God with his life and go into ministry.
So, YES!  Cancer was a blessing.  An ugly-beautiful blessing.

So, what about now?  There are ugly-beautiful blessings all throughout my life.  Can I trust God with them?
I will never leave nor forsake you.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be His name.
Through Him all things hold together.
God is love.
I have overcome the world.

Just as flowing blood, nails in flesh, and thorns in face are the ugly-beautiful blessing that brought me my salvation… the ugly-beautiful blessings God sends in my life are meant to glorify Him.  
Yes.  I can trust Him. 

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Wow, very good. I'm not going say anything but Thank you for writing all that, anything more would take away from the meaning.