Sunday, January 22, 2017

When All Feels Lost -- the joy in a sad story

  * are raw and real if you don't want to read

    Something in this morning's sermon sparked this thought process. I listened to the sermon 3 times and couldn't find it so I can't really explain that other than it had to be in the part about the hard times often being good...along the lines of what Paul David Tripp calls Uncomfortable Grace. What I thought I heard was the idea of being completely exposed before God which sent my mind to the night of Knox's accident.
   I have never spoken of this publicly and I might change my mind later and delete; it is always hard to decide what to share and what not to share. The judgement house of people's minds is not a safe place and thus I tread carefully. The night Knox  died I was a bit hysterical, and in particular, the moments between when I found him and a later point of time, I felt completely exposed, naked so to speak in front of God and everyone else, but particularly God. Being exposed that way in front of God felt safe, and in front of everyone else it felt like"just punishment" and a unique kind of experience where something intensely private is known about you, but it is out of your control...a defeated feeling.
   I really only want to talk about the spiritual moments though. I walked down my stairs to the living room because my friend was doing CPR and my crying and vocal prayers were scaring her daughter and I wanted her to be able to concentrate. As I prayed out loud, in that moment, I knew that I had nothing but God. His presence was intensely real and I knew that He was with me while I begged and pleaded for Knox's life. That memory and the intensity of His presence along with His reassurance that regardless of what happened I would not  be abandoned and our family would come out the other side with some semblance of okayness is one of the things that helped me retain my faith through our ordeal.
   I felt so naked and exposed. I think being completely helpless makes one feel that way. But, I also felt very known. Though I begged and pleaded, I didn't need to; my heart was known. Though I felt His presence and reassurance, it was very uncomfortable. The word uncomfortable doesn't even begin to adequately express it. I didn't know for sure how it was going to pan out though I felt like He was saying "He isn't going to make it (which wasn't hard to imagine as the doctors pretty much gave us no hope), but this is passing through my hand, this is no surprise to me, and there will be much pain in the future but I am here." The pain, the horror, the intense sadness I can't begin to define was immeasurable, but so was God's presence. I am never going to be at a place where I am glad it happened(the idea seems absurd to me), but I am every grateful for the presence of God and the work He did in our family at the time. That feeling of closeness is hard to hold onto as time passes, not with the same intensity. I guess like in most situations, we  want the best of both worlds, right?
   Many people sent us prayers and scriptures while Knox was in the hospital and I have those saved; they all meant a great deal to us.  A lot of people sent the verse, Isaiah 43:2  "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." I remember a friend telling me that she felt like God had given her that verse and it meant He would live and would be okay. Every time I read that verse what I read was "Knox was not and is not alone" (which did mean he was okay). One of the worst parts about having a child die in an accident is feeling like you should have prevented it. You should have known. You should have been there 1 min earlier. Then as a mom, you cry and scream in your soul that when he needed you most, you were not there. You think how scared they must have been and how they must have wanted you, but you weren't there. Those thoughts were eating me alive. When Knox passed through those waters, God was with him. When he passed through the fire, God was with him. From the time he was first formed in my womb, God knew his inner most being and could know him, and love him, and care for him so much better than I. I can't express the relief when my thinking could shift out of the despair of not being his comfort to gratefulness for God's care.
   Maybe to a non-believer this all seems crazy; I imagine it would. There have been times it has rocked my faith to the core. Those times when the "remembering" hits and I think, "Did this really happen?" and I have to question, and rightly so, why God allowed it. The almighty God who can do all things could have saved him. He could have diverted his attention so he didn't go upstairs, he could have prompted me to go ahead and put him in his highchair for supper, he could have had him rescued, but that isn't what happened. That isn't all of the story though because part of the "remembering" is also remembering the intensity of His presence, His assurance of "the working for good" even if that good isn't something we can see before heaven, the community of both believers and non-believers who reached out to us and walked this road with us and continue to do so.
  Honestly, I hope I never have another experience where I feel so exposed again. I know, however, that if I do I won't be alone no matter how lonely it feels,and will continue to tell myself, "Whate'er My God Ordains is Right."