Is God Still Good When The News Isn’t?


I read someone else’s good news with a little bit of sting in my heart. All of the responses were filled with joy. (As they should have been.) More than a few read, “God is so good.” Yeah, God is good when the news is good. But what about when the news isn’t all we had hoped it would be? Is God still good when the news isn’t?

I hope people aren’t thinking God isn’t as good here because things are hard these days? I don’t have as many “God is so good!” comments coming my way. I get more prayer emojis on my end. But the truth is, I’m not living in a world where I think God is only good when the good things happen. Just because we haven’t been able to ring that final bell resounding the end of our difficult journey doesn’t mean God suddenly went bad. Actually, I believe something quite different.

Even thought our journey has been pain filled, it’s dang hard if I’m honest, I still get to see more of God’s goodness than you might imagine.

When I read Psalm 31:19 it tells me to take refuge in him and I will find his goodness. I don’t know about you, but I seek refuge in God in the hard times much more often than the good. During those good days I’m rolling along, windows down, without much need for refuge. But those rocky days? Duck and cover. God’s refuge, here I come. Psalm 31 says, “How great is your goodness … for those who take refuge in you.” I’ll find God’s goodness during the rough stuff way more often than the easy days, right?

God’s goodness doesn’t change according to our circumstances. Remember, that thing about him being an unchanging God? Just because I am wavering and scared and anxious in this fire does not mean God is feeling the same. He is where my refuge is found. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found God’s goodness in their fire, didn’t they? (Daniel 3:8-30) They sought refuge in God in that furnace. And that’s exactly where they found his goodness. Not before they got in it, God didn’t save them from their troubles before they were tied up and thrown into that fire. But, right in the middle of that fire is where the goodness showed up. “…there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.” (vs.29)

My news isn’t the resounding congratulations I would have planned for this ending. There was no bell ringing announcing our finish line like we expected. But, that’s okay. I’m not much on public ugly crying anyway. Which is exactly how that scene would have played out for me. I can find my refuge in God. It feels good there. In his presence is where my hope and his goodness is found (credit: Francesca Battistelli). He knows our plan. What’s that Proverb again about me planning and God establishing? (Proverbs 16:9) I’m resting in this plan. God’s goodness is here.

Favorite song today:

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This is Bigger Than Me

There are days I don’t know what to pray. This whole thing is so much bigger, scarier, than I ever could have imagined. I don’t even know which way I want it go. This is bigger than me.

I’ve always had a pretty good handle on medical terms. And special needs was something we finally felt comfortable in. Nothing we dealt with was too emergent. I had time to research, ask, or Google!, to my heart’s content. But this is bigger.

I’m in deep now. Things are coming at me fast. Critical care isn’t my wheelhouse. I’m a thinker. I mull things over. (Yeah, yeah, maybe I tend to Dwell.)I don’t have a trigger-finger when it comes to making big decisions. (My mouth got the trigger-finger, not my brain.) But intensive care is … intense.

I’m in a place where I can’t rely on me anymore. I can’t even completely rely on the intelligent people God has placed around me. Oh, believe me, big important people think they know all the stuff going in. But, my guy has proven them wrong time and again these days. This is so much bigger than them.

When I see the smartest of the smart come through my son’s room and admit, “I don’t know,” It’s humbling. So big.

Where do we turn when even the best of the best, the highest paid, the people everyone else looks towards say, “I don’t know.”?

I keep hearing the Chris Tomlin song in my head, “Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, Our God is Healer, God you are higher than any other…” It’s like the Holy Spirit is reminding me this is bigger than me, but it is NOT bigger than my God.

God has given us a book, his Word, and it is filled with reminders of how He moves in big ways. I’ve lived long enough to not expect God to use fireworks in every moment of our lives. (Don’t think I’m not asking for the really big show here.) But these big stories are a reminder to me of who God is, of how big he is.

He is a God who can hold back seas, shut the mouths of lions, turn people to stone, rip temple veils from the hereafter, and who I trust to save my soul. Why wouldn’t he be big enough to handle what is going on in the here and now of my life? Of my boy’s life?

Right now, this is big. There are medical terms of which I understand about every third word, nights on end of being awake, and watching my guy hurt a hurt like I’ve never seen before. But I am trusting, hanging on to hope, my God is bigger than all of it.

I’m going back to the Bible stories of my youth to remember God holds us. He hasn’t forgotten us.

  • Psalm 105:4 (CSB) “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 (VOICE) “And he will be leading you. He’ll be with you, and he’ll never fail you or abandon you. So don’t be afraid!”
  • Matthew 10:29-30 (CSB) “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, none of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs on your head have all been counted.”

Give It Away: Even in Special Needs and Sickness

It was never mine to begin with. This life I live was never all mine. I gave it to Christ a long time ago. I told him to use me, use my kids, my life, use whatever he needed. I’ve prayed prayers asking God to use me in bigger ways than inside the walls of my house. And, remember the song I sang asking for the Holy Spirit to lead me where my trust is without those same borders? Well, here I am. Living a new life, new borders, new people who I would have never encountered in my old way of living. I guess I forgot to add the criteria to my prayers of no sickness, no pain, no hardship. But then, this life was never mine to make demands upon to begin with, was it? Giving God control even in special needs, even in sickness; I didn’t know he was going to ask me to give it all away. (Next time maybe I’ll ask how God can best use me in the shoe department of Nordstrom?)

An old childhood friend visited us at the hospital. Old friends can be the best, can’t they? They know all the stuff. The good, the bad, the ugly. If they still show up when the going gets tough, that’s a friend. But, a friend who shares Jesus with you? Keep those. This friend shared his devotion on St. Macarius the Great of Egypt. I’ve never been familiar with the saints and this story drew me in. The story of Macarius was that he found thieves taking all he had and loading it all on their camel. But, Macarius didn’t do what most of us would do in this situation; fight for our stuff. He did the very opposite. He helped them load all of his possessions on the camel. He even went back in and gave them something they missed. Then pushed the camel away himself. In the end, the camel wouldn’t leave Macarius until all of what was stolen from him was taken off and given back to him. The thieves left empty-handed.

Give it away. I’ve heard that before. But not like this. When the thief comes? Keep on giving?

This disease that’s now in control here; it’s taken my son. This disease has not just taken my boy, but it has taken so much more than we ever expected. It’s stolen our time for anything, our family cohesiveness, church attendance, ability to parent without many opinions. The thing that hurts so much is it has yanked the joy right out from under me. The laughter is gone. Truth is, I just don’t care what else this disease takes anymore. It can have it. Just give me back my boy.

But I’m not sure my current dumping is the way Jesus intended us to give it all away when he was approached by the rich man. His way is something more willing. When the rich man asked what he needed to give up to get into Heaven Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself and sell everything. Then follow him. Follow Jesus. (Matthew 19:16-26)

Give it away. And somehow I don’t think Jesus was talking about just the stuff. What else have I been holding on to? My way of life? My comfort? My routine? That routine has been King for a long time here. Routine just got dethroned.

There’s another story in Genesis (Gen.22) about a man having to give up his son. It’s a dark story that we parents don’t like to look too long upon. Ask me anything, God. But, please don’t ask me to give up my babies, whatever their age. What I try to see in that story, more than the near death scene, is God providing. God providing a way in the darkness. He asks a father to give it all up, only to show him he had the answer waiting at the end of the story all along.

I guess this disease can have my stuff, my old way of living, all I’ve ever known. Even that blasted routine. You can take it or I may even start helping you load it on your camel, Disease. I’m starting to figure out that God just might have a bigger plan waiting at the end of this road than I can see from my point of view.

Song that’s getting me through:

All I Need is Grace

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Paul asked for this “thorn”(vs.7) to be taken away from him three times. Three times. That’s all he tells the people of Corinth. But this thorn is significant enough for him to write about. It bothers him that much. I don’t know about you, but when something bothers me, I talk about it. A lot. And boy, do I tell God about it. Way more than three times.

My boy is sick. Really sick. Some days are better than others. I tell a lot of people, “I’m fine.” and “He’s okay.” But, the reality is, he’s sick. He’s sick, and that’s compounded by the special needs we’ve always known. And loved.

A couple of nights ago we had a tough night. Sometimes people, even in a specialty hospital, don’t understand the quirks of special needs. We don’t do change. And hospitals (read: doctors) like to change things without notice. Or they say they are changing things aaand … we wait. These schedules aren’t special needs friendly. So, by the time all was said and done, so were we.

He cried. I cried. I pleaded and begged God over and over for help. It seemed his pain, our pain, was never-ending that night. There was no magic wand miracle coming down from Heaven that God was going to bestow on that moment. I wasn’t even asking for the big healing. (Though, I’ve asked for plenty of that, too.) I only wanted some relief in the moment. I needed my boy to feel the comfort of sleep; that peace that only rest can give. But, the pain kept on.

Paul says he asked three times. I know I asked at least thirty-three. More. I lost count of the number of times I cried through tears, “Please, God, help us.” It took Paul only three times to understand:

“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

I wanted to see angels in the room holding us close. I wanted to hear it was okay, God has this all under his control; some kind of lifeline straight from Heaven. But, what I got was this: a Bible verse that said don’t just boast about being weak, gladly boast about your weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can rest on us. This wasn’t the lifeline I was looking for that night. But, Christ’s power? That’s a lifeline of the greatest kind.

Okay, maybe I would have freaked a little if I saw actual angels in the room (Isaiah 6:2-4, Rev.10:1). But, I would have settled for that magic moment of silence. Not me falling asleep face first at the foot of my son’s bed with dried tears on my face. But there it is, my weak moment. And you know what? He slept. Eventually.

I don’t like any of this one bit. If I could choose my own adventure, like the books my brother read when he was a kid, I would not choose this one. Ever. But God sees the big picture. The whole adventure. And he’s using it to make his power perfect. So until that time, his grace is all I need.

Song that’s getting me through:





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I Can’t Do This

I can’t do this.” I said it to myself over and over while the shower water rained down over me. “Please God, I just can’t do this.” When I finally shut up long enough to listen to God speak the first thing that came into my head was, But I can.

Months of lack of sleep, zero exercise, and bad hospital food will put a person in this mindset. (Hospitals, you are a hos-pi-tal. Time to step up the healthier food choices that doesn’t cost a fortune for the families who are now living there. I could write a whole piece on what families need while living in the hospital. But, one suggestion: underwear in the gift shop. Don’t ask.) I can usually take the day head on. Like I tell my kids, “You’ve got this.” But lately I feel like saying what one of my guys says, “No! I don’t got this!

I’m not the first person to cry out to God “Lord, save us.” (Matthew 8:23-27), “Heal him, Lord.” (Mark 5:21-43, John 4:43-54), “Take this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42). Sometimes God chooses to stop the storm and to heal the child. And sometimes he takes us through the valley of the shadow of death before we see the beauty on the other side.

I’ve always wished God would tell me his plan. I’d like to know what lies ahead in this life story. But then, if I knew this hard road had been coming, dang, I’m glad I didn’t see it coming. I’m glad God has his plan and he’s got this.

I can’t do this; be a wife, a mom, a nurse and keep my tears behind dry eyes. I had dreams of doing things in the medical field a lifetime ago. That didn’t happen for reasons upon reasons. But here I am, working (and living) in the medical field every day. I didn’t expect my patient would be my own child. Now that those long-lost dreams are alive and well in my everyday life all I can think of every moment is, “Please God, I can’t do this.” But God reminds me, He can.

Song that’s getting me through:

 

 

 

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