A Timely Reminder of God’s Purpose in Suffering

David and Sally Michael’s younger daughter was diagnosed with a life-altering, incurable disease a year ago. The following excerpt is from one of Sally’s CaringBridge updates. 

As we were sitting in the Cleveland Clinic waiting room, I received a text recording sent by a young mother in our church. I tapped the arrow and heard this sweet reminder spoken by her 12-year-old daughter: "Hi Mrs. Michael and Miss Kristi. We prayed for you. God's eye is watching and His hand is working to uphold and govern all His creation to fulfill all His purposes." These words were very familiar. She was quoting a statement of truth that builds throughout the 40 lessons of the Truth78 curriculum, My Purpose Will Standwords I had written to instruct children; and now a child was instructing me, strengthening my weary soul, and encouraging my fainting heart. 

The long year of constant and prolonged trials coming one after another like waves crashing endlessly upon the seashore has felt particularly exhausting the past few weeks. To add insult to injury, both David's computer and mine majorly crashed in the midst of his job transition. And just before that, I fell and got a concussion. As a result of the concussion, I couldn't be on my laptop during the time when several technicians worked to figure out the damage done simply by simply accepting a Windows 10 update. The “update” created a new user for my computer, threw in duplicate files and old files, added outdated documents to my desktop, and rearranged my folders. (Really, should a Spanish seminar magically appear in a folder of embroidery patterns? Little wonder Kristi calls me "the Bermuda Triangle of technology.")

I couldn't even deal with the ever-changing landscape of my computer blitz for five weeks as I have been recovering from the concussion. (Did I really need to innocently sit down on a chair before speaking at the Sing! Conference and have it pitch backward off the three-foot-high platform platform in front of 250 people, crashing me and my head to the floor...in a dress?) The crowning blow came when the internet decided to play "hide and seek," appearing for awhile and then disappearingon again, off again; now you see me, now you don't. (If you get this update, you will know it decided to rear its head and come up for air for a moment.) 

But all of this is minor compared to the really awful almost three weeks Kristi has had. She had one "good" day in the midst of increased nausea, almost totally debilitating fatigue, and renewed bouts of (what is a nice way of saying this) tossing her cookies, except that she can't eat cookies (okay, tossing her few goldfish crackers). 

In the midst of all this, this promise rises above the circumstances: 

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Written thousands of years ago, under different circumstances, God's words spoken through the prophet Isaiah are still true today, backed up by His unchanging character, power, faithfulness, and love. It is good to be in a situation where we must learn to wait upon the LORD more fully, as we contemplate the final phrases the sweet reminder of God's providence reveals at the end of the curriculum: "God is present and active in all creation. His eye is watching and His hand is working to uphold and govern all His creation to fulfill all His purposes FOR HIS GLORY AND THE GOOD OF HIS CHILDREN." 

God is present and activein computer failures, accidents, internet outages, and prolonged illness. There is purpose in all of it! There is grace in all of it. There is the revelation of our sinful hearts. (Yuck!) There is God's sanctifying work in conforming us to the image of His Son. (What patience He has!) And there is the display of God's glory. Oh to learn to dwell on the greater things and not on the lesser things! How easily we are distracted from the spiritual and the eternal. How easily we forget that God is more interested in our character than our comfort. How we need the reminders so many of the great hymns bore into our souls:

God Hath Not Promised

God hath not promised skies always blue,

Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

Refrain

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,

Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

                 Annie Johnson Flint

(You may want to read about this remarkable woman.)