Monday, May 18, 2015

Things I want my kids to know: God doesn't rescue us, but He doesn't abandon us either

When Anda was a baby, she got sick a lot. One time she got a blessing that said God knew it was a bother to be sick a lot, but He wanted her to have a strong immune system.

Over the next ten years, Anda rarely got sick. And when she did, it was milder than the other kids, even when we all got taken out by a particularly nasty strain of RSV.

Fast forward 11 years to Christmas 2014. The day before Christmas Eve, Anda noticed a swelling in her neck. As I always do, I said let's watch and see. It got worse. It turned out she had a strep infection in the tissue around her tonsils (also known as quinsy--it's the thing that killed George Washington). Soon she couldn't open her mouth, or eat, or drink. Quinsy is one of those sicknesses that you can't fight off yourself. The only treatment is to go to the hospital and get IV antibiotics overnight. But it was Christmas and then the weekend...she got a blessing that said she would live through this and feel well enough to enjoy Christmas. And she was, barely. But she spent five days on the couch, insisting she was getting better. Finally I gave up listening to her and we took her to the doctor. By then, the swelling was going down, she could open her mouth again, and she could eat and drink. Her body was fighting it off, but slowly. We got her  course of oral antibiotics and she got better, a few pounds lighter but none the worse for the wear.

The point here is that her killer immune system worked. It saved her life and was actually fighting off a sickness that you aren't supposed to be able to fight off.

What does this have to do with God?  Well, he let Anda suffer as a baby--and she hated it and so did I--so that years later she would be strong enough to live through something much, much worse.

So when I say that God doesn't rescue us, really He does. He just doesn't rescue us by taking away the bad things. He uses the bad things to make us stronger--and that IS rescuing us.

There comes a time in every person's life when things are miserable and it feels like God must either not care or outright hates us because He won't help by getting us out of here. The worst is knowing that He does rescue some people, so you know He can. Sometimes people get a blessing and then get pregnant. Sometimes a prompting keeps them out of a car accident. Sometimes He miraculously saves your baby from drowning. And, maddeningly, sometimes he doesn't.  Even when you know He can and has for other people.

Really, though, God loves us. He just does things differently than we do.

We, for example, expend enormous amounts of energy trying to eradicate disease, poverty, and pain in order to help people suffer less. (And I really believe that we should).  God, on the other hand, strengthens us so we can get through it. He gives us patience. He gives us comfort. And he sends someone to sit and hold our hand while we suffer.  He helps us through and makes us stronger rather than eliminating the suffering.

We, in our eagerness to help people not suffer, would actually eliminate the whole point of life: we would make it easy and pleasant, without pain or effort, but the point of life is growth and strengthening, and you don't get that without pain, suffering, and experience. That's why difficulty, pain, and true suffering are common experiences for every single person in life. EVERYONE gets to suffer. (If you haven't yet, know that you will.)

Even Jesus, suffering the worst pain that anyone on earth has ever suffered, so that He, even, wanted to give up and felt abandoned by God (see, even He had to experience that)--even He was not rescued by His Father (and we have no doubt that God loves Jesus).  But God sent him an angel to hold him while He cried, and to be there with him. And he sends angels to us to hold us while we cry. We can't see most of them, and the ones we can see usually can't fix anything (being other living people), but they can sit and hold us while we cry. And they can use what skills they have to relieve the suffering somewhat, even though it doesn't go away.

Be someone's angel.

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