I was in Half Price books one day and picked up the Hans Christian Anderson’s Complete Book of Fairy Tales. As I was flipping through it on the ride home I happened upon a story about a mother whose child was dying. In the story a man knocks at her door and she lets him in. After he’s seated himself she goes to get him some food but when she comes back into the room not only is he gone but he’s taken her dying child as well.
The mother goes outside to find him and is told that he was death and had taken her child. For most of the rest of the story she’s not only chasing him down but she’s also trading various parts of herself for information on where he’s taken her child. She gives her hair, her eyes and so on because nothing is more important to her than regaining the life of her child. Finally she’s told that the lives of all people are stored in this green house and that she will know the plant that represents her child by listening for its heartbeat. She did find hers and when death showed up to “replant” her child into a new garden she threatened to uproot all the other plants to save her child.
Death explained to her that he only did what he did at God’s bidding and could not do otherwise. The mother argued so death, having retrieved her eyes for her had her look into a well that showed the future of two lives, one of which was her child’s. One life was full of hope and promise, the other was bleak, dark and very unhappy. So unhappy that the mother was finally willing to let go of her child if it meant sparing her from that kind of a future.
It was a sad, strange story that captured my attention and wouldn't let me go until I'd finished reading it.
After reflecting on the story for awhile I came to realize that we are often just like the mother in the story. Whether it's my child or something going on in my life I tend to want to control the situation. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable and I don't understand why I'm going through what I am, or why my loved one is suffering the way they are.
As far as this story is concerned, I know if it were my child I would probably follow the same path she did. I thought the story, while strange, was a very good illustration of why we need to choose to trust God even when we don't understand. Or maybe it should read; "especially when we don't understand." He sees the big picture and while some of the things that enter our lives are painful, He can be trusted.
These are not things He just missed and let slip through! No, anything in your life whether you perceive it as good or bad, has been allowed for a specific purpose.
We have to be very careful that we don’t confuse the true and living God of the bible with the soft, squishy marshmallow god of this world. The world wants a god who is molded to the shape they want him to take. They want a god of good times who will make everything easy and smooth. The god of least resistance, but this false god of smooth roads, upbeat outcomes and personal happiness is not real.
The true and living God is nothing like this false idol, He is far bigger, someone much greater!
For the True, Incarnate and Almighty God has never spared his people from pain and hardship if there were greater things to be gained.
Jesus never promised to help us avoid life’s storms but to be with us in the midst of them.
Jesus never promised Mary and Martha that their brother would not die, but He did promise that He himself was the resurrection and the life.
He never promised that we would not hunger, but He did promise to be the Bread of Life.
God never promised to keep his people out of the fiery furnace but rather to show up when the flames burned their hottest.
The Biblical God, the Incarnate God, our redeeming God, our merciful God never said that He would save us from the storm, but He did promise to be with us through the storm.
Some promises He did make to us . . .
“Lo, I am with you always”,
“let not your heart be troubled”,
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”,
“let not your hearts be afraid. Believe in God, Believe in Me.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
His goodness may not always manifest itself as we think it should but it is always perfect and exactly what we need. And then we have the joy and the privilege of giving that comfort away...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4