There are times when our afflictions move from the unfathomable to the excessively cruel.
Having a miscarriage shortly after losing Annabelle was unfathomable – yet Rebecca ‘accidently’ discovering that pregnancy less than 24 hours before losing that child seemed excessively cruel.
Brian and I watched the children suffer through the loss of their sister, Annabelle. Each grieving in their own intense and unique way. Their grief became harder to endure than our own suffering. When we discovered we were expecting again, we were careful to shield the children from such pain and had no intention of sharing the news of this pregnancy until my womb showed no signs of denying it.
After a few months of successful secrecy, Rebecca and I dropped by the pharmacy on our way home from one of her doctor’s appointments. She had just relapsed into pancreatitis again and was scheduled for surgery at Mayo Clinic in two weeks. Her body was rejecting food and her pain was elevated substantially. Things were not going well.
As I checked out with my medication in hand, the pharmacist loudly proclaimed a warning about interactions with my pregnancy.
Did Rebecca hear? Maybe she wasn’t paying attention?
But Rebecca looked up at me and smiled that all-encompassing smile of sheer joy.
Yes, she heard.
She hugged me, held on to me and cried, my daughter was incandescently happy.
Rebecca had just enough time to get her hopes up, just enough time plan an entire nursery, just enough time to set aside her toys for her new baby, and just enough time to love – a deep expectant love.
The next day I lost that deeply loved baby.
Brian and I were given the pleasure once again of not only grieving ourselves, but watching our daughter endure the loss of another dream.
A mere 24 hours later and she would have never known. Never gone through another tragedy in the center of her own current pain.
If God was truly in control, couldn’t He have prevented any number of these unexplainable afflictions?
And yet He didn’t.
He allowed the would-be redemptive conception after Annabelle.
He allowed the death of that hope-filled baby.
He allowed Rebecca’s pancreatic flare-up.
And He allowed Rebecca to overhear a careless pharmacist proclaim my pregnancy……
Every allowance seemed needlessly cruel.
Yet the more I studied God’s word, the more I recognized similar scenarios with the same flavor of cruelty:
Israelites watching their infant sons thrown to their drowning death in the Nile – unfathomable.
But the Israelites orchestrated to go to Egypt by a God who knew of their upcoming massacre? Cruel.
John the Baptist awaiting his beheading – unfathomable.
But John not receiving rescue nor even a word of comfort from the living Savior he dedicated his life for? Cruel.
Job losing all ten of his children – unfathomable.
But God giving permission to Satan for the death of those children? Cruel.
We have all suffered similar experiences in which our lists of unfathomable becomes excessively cruel.
My list was growing longer……
Couldn’t God have saved at least one of our babies in the midst of our tragic circumstances? And if He had no intention of our babies’ lives on this earth – why did He allow us to conceive only for the purpose of grieving another loss? Couldn’t God have used Rebecca for His glory without her having a chronic disease, or at least one that didn’t create such agonizing pain?
So many questions without good answers.
In the story of the New Testament bleeding woman; God allowed her affliction of continual bleeding, God allowed her struggle of 12 years in duration, God allowed her pain and symptoms from that said disease, God allowed her finances to drain from her crises, God prevented other medical professionals from healing her, and here, here is the bitter taste of cruelty:
God CREATED the Levitical law which caused her to be isolated from all of her loved ones, from all of humanity………
But there was something different about this story I had not noticed before, a critical piece to the convoluted puzzle of acceptance. Had this desperate outcast not tasted bitter cruelness, she would never have sought and then encountered her God. Had she not endured this unfair affliction, she would never have heard her Messiah call her ‘daughter’.
This bleeding woman was chosen to endure such suffering – this was no accident.
And yet somehow, all this broken woman endured was worthy of the moment her Savior healed her as His child.
God had a purpose for the bleeding woman’s sorrow that the world would never understand. God has a purpose for my blood-letting journey as well.
If I believed the severity of our circumstance was indeed needless, then my God would indeed be cruel. But I do not believe in a needlessly cruel God. I have experienced too much of His beauty, too much of His grace, too much of His good. So if this Lord of mine is incapable of cruelty, then the cruel situations we find ourselves in are not needless at all.
They are needful.
They somehow, in some way, fulfill a purpose.
Although I may never comprehend my excessively cruel tragedies, I can think of no greater unexpected miracle than those very tragedies causing me to seek my Savior’s healing as He accepts me as His child.
Thank you Lord.