Friday, May 17, 2013

Questions We Ask When We Hurt the Most

When you go through something difficult in life, it's not only normal, but healthy to ask questions. That's how we learn. Because I have been through child loss before, most of the hard questions are already settled in my heart. I know there is a young woman out there somewhere hurting, wondering why her arms are empty, asking why, so I am telling you I've been there. And, I am sharing what I believe and what gives comfort to me:

There are moral consequences when we sin. If someone steals a car and is caught, they know they will end up facing some form of punishment. If someone dies from an overdose of illegal substances, we accept they did something foolish which caused their death. If we mistreat someone, the person's hurt, anger, and reaction are part of the consequences we reap. Generally, we don't have to ask why when we face moral consequences.

There are consequences of people doing evil to us. If someone stabs us, we suffer pain and might die. We understand that the suffering is caused by the hands of someone full of evil and hatred. 

Even if we don't like someone, we should not take joy in their suffering. (Job 31:29, Obadiah 1:12, Proverbs 17:5, Proverbs 24:7, Ezekiel 25:6)

There are natural consequences to the sin of this world. The earth was altered from the way God meant it to be when we, as a human race, chose to go our own way. Death and disease and untold suffering entered this earth. It's why Alzheimer's patients suffer. It's why there are natural disasters and car accidents. It's why people suffer and die from cancer. It's why our bodies fail us. It's why babies die in the womb or shortly after birth. 

The Bible is pretty clear that there will be suffering on this earth, and tells us we should not be surprised by it. No one is immune from it. Suffering shows us our desperate need for God and doing things HIS way. Suffering shows us the results of doing it our way. I believe that once we get to Heaven and realize the full scope of suffering sin has caused, that we who are His, will never have any desire to be outside His will again. 

After my first miscarriage, instead of "Why me?" I asked myself "Why not me? This entire world is hurting, why am I surprised when hurt comes to me?" And, "Who would I wish this on? No one. I would not want to see anyone hurting this deeply." 

With my first loss, I tried blaming myself by coming up with all of these creative ways my normal day to day actions caused the miscarriage. Then, I saw a picture taken by Kevin Carter in 1994 (graphic image) that showed a small, starving child struggling to make it to a relief camp while a hungry vulture looked on waiting for him to die. "What did that child do to deserve that? Nothing. Then why do I try find a way to blame myself for my child's death?" 

A while later, I saw an image of a mother struggling to breastfeed two emaciated children from shriveled breasts. She was starving herself, clearly had little to no milk, but was giving all she had for her children. "My suffering is very light compared to the suffering around the world. My child died, but will never know that kind of hunger or struggle. He (or she) will never know disease or suffering. I will not have to watch them go through hardship. In some ways, I can count myself and my child blessed."

I have a friend who just lost her ONLY child. I still have my seven living children. Do I believe God loves her less than me? that I am somehow more favored? that she sinned and deserved the suffering she is going through? NO, NO, NO, NO!!! I have several friends who unmarried, an in law who suffered several late term losses, several friends who are infertile, and several who are terminally ill. Do I automatically assume they did something wrong? NO! Then why do we punish ourselves with those horrible assumptions that run through our head? Pain can get so big that it momentarily blocks out the Truth. 

I asked myself once: "What in the world did I do? God must really hate me to keep doing this to me." I felt the Holy Spirit ask "What makes you think it is about you? It's about ME. You gave me your life, and I am using it to point people to Me.

It's not about me. It's about not being in control of my life but surrendering to His will. Those prayers I prayed asking God to use me, to use my life to bring others to know Him, to not let my life be a waste...are being answered. Joni Eareckson Tada said "You were made for one purpose, and that is to make God real to those around you." Now, I'd rather be rich and giving my testimony over duck calls and cheesy story lines on "reality TV," but I am not on Duck Dynasty. I am a simple woman who loves her God. 

There are a lot of people who believe the closer you are to Christ, the more you speak out on your faith, the more persecution you will see. I am still searching Scripture on this, but I do see a correlation between those who are really trying to live for the Lord and a greater extent of suffering. Reading about the lives of great missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and martyrs lends support to this. My point is, if you are following Christ, you will see suffering.

Suffering grows us spiritually. (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5) It makes us stronger and more mature as Christians. The sweetest and humblest Christians you know are the ones who have been through the most suffering. For this reason, we are to count it for joy when we suffer because God's love is poured directly into our hearts through the Holy Spirit so we can not only know and understand Him better, but also point others to Him. 

Charles Stanley said "Nothing attracts an unbeliever like a saint suffering successfully." Sharing the things that hurt draws other people's attention to us like no other time in our lives. Not too many people can relate to my successes as a homeschooling mother, but every compassionate human on this planet can relate to pain, suffering, and disappointment. It is through my sufferings and overcoming them with my faith that I can best show others the God I believe in and serve. 

Even though my heart is very broken over Isaac and Mary and all of my miscarried babies before them, my faith in God still stands strong. He has given me enough of a glimpse to understand a little of His plan to give me strength and comfort. My "lost" children aren't lost. They're in the presence of the Lord. I will see them, know them, and love on them. Also in that day, any who took joy in our suffering will be put to silence and shame. God's plan is incredible, and He is very worthy to be praised!

I Peter 1:6b-9 ...for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I Peter 5:9b-10 know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.