Kirsten is in the middle of a serious arthritis flare. And I went to bed disappointed and angry with God again. "What's the difference between having a God who is impotent and one who will not answer prayer?" I wrote in my journal last night. "Practically speaking, nothing! Oh God, where are you when my daughter needs your healing touch?"
This morning I woke up praying, asking for God's healing and help for those we love and his presence for the day. "No matter how upset we get, where would we go but to You? You have given us no choice or hope apart from Yourself."
In the process of forgiving myself for the outburst against God's loving care, I realized a few things. First, I ate beef yesterday. It was organic, lovingly prepared by our daughter-in-law Rebekah (who is an amazing cook!), and I didn't feel at the time that it affected me. But it took only about ten minutes at our subsequent appointment for me to feel anxious and have to "leave town!" for our next engagement. I slept a restless night after an unfocused evening. And oh yeah, the hot flashes after lunch were probably not from caffeinated tea, but from the meat. ('Animal food' sensitivity is the reasons I'm vegan.)
Second, how little we understand about God. "His ways are beyond human comprehension," said the prophet. Where we wish for a magic wand to wave over pain and suffering, God permits us to agonize for ourselves and others. My cousin Nancy is doing heroic care for her dad, who has cancer. She prepares the foods and surroundings that we pray will allow his body to heal. She's taught me so much about the enveloping, loving care of God for us. He puts in place systems to help us heal and grow, many of which we don't recognize or appreciate because they seem difficult or challenging.
Finally, when we don't understand, we have to let go. "Forgiving God" when he does not respond the way we want nurtures our finite ability to trust. The Creator and Sustainer of life knows what he is doing, even though we may not grasp how raw suffering can be used for good. Our hearts are opened to God's comfort as we carry the cross we bear with him. During Lent, we remind each other that he endured the cross for us so that we would not have to suffer alone.
*Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:16-20 NIV
*(Daniel prayed,)"Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name." Daniel 9:17-19 NIV
*Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV