Making Sense of the Pain
As I was reading I came across Psalm 73, and it spoke to my heart. I brought clarity to the difficult situation that we have all faced, pediatric cancer, and it brought me peace. It gave me a glimpse into how God redeems the suffering that we’ve all encountered. We are not forgotten, we are not being punished...we are blessed.
A psalm of Asaph.
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
I have so often looked at other people, other children, other families. They seem so healthy, happy, unburdened….I would find myself coveting those blessings. Why did my life look so different? Why cancer? Why my child?
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Through the seeming unfairness in my life I realized how little I was relying on Christ. Yes I had faith. Yes I prayed. Yes I loved the Lord. Yes I lived my life for Him. But I did not RELY on him. Up until my first born fought and lost her battle with cancer, I felt somewhat in control of my life. I was completely unaware of my arrogance and pride until life brought me to my knees and my delusions of control were put into perspective.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
Only by God’s grace can he turn moments of despair into moments of growth. He uses a moment of weakness to strengthen our faith. When the world takes away so much, but bless us with more in return. Growth is not easy, it is painful, but it is worth it. I now understand the fleeting promise in the world and I find myself grasping and holding onto what is important to prepare for what is to come, not what is.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
Claire reminded me that this life is short, a mist. I need to measure the value and joy in my life against scripture, not against my neighbor. An easy life, a beautiful home, a new car…there is nothing wrong with these things but they are only with us for a short time. My faith, the souls of my children, showing the love of Christ towards another. These things will permeate into eternity. This is where my focus should be.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Right after my daughter passed, I was asked a very convicting question.
“If Heaven had no mourning, no sickness, no pain, no death, and no God, would I be ok with that?”
Can I say God is really my portion? Is He enough in times of need?
Heaven among many things is an eternal worship of my Father in Heaven. My walk through the dark valley truly fortified my relationship with Christ allowing me to enjoy his presence like never before. If I wish to spend eternity with him, there is no better time to start than right now.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Thank you Lord for your patience with me, for your desire to teach me, for you unending grace towards me. I am not perfect, but your promise to forgive and love me endlessly keeps bringing me back to you. I do not understand this world, I must have trust in you. I chose to humbly follow you. Take my hand and lead me. Without you I may lose my way, and that is a risk I am not willing to take.