Guest post By Catherine Arnsperger
I was sitting there, childless, with my beautiful daughter so unexpectedly gone. Broken. Raging. In unspeakable pain. Sad is a word far too small. Longing for the nightmare to be over.
And in it all and despite it all, I cannot help but conclude that God was totally in control and totally in charge of what happened to me. I cannot help but conclude that God is not passively letting bad things happen to me, just hoping the blood of His Sin is enough to “make it all better.”
Interesting, what you conclude when you are on the rack, in the throes of grief? Grief giving birth to something…something…what is this all leading to?
Like I said, I cannot help but wonder about Job. Job. The guinea pig of human suffering. He even gets his own book of the Bible.
Job was devastated. Job lost everything. His children, his business, his health and his reputation. And to make it worse, his wife told him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). I do not think many of us even understand the depths to which Job was taken.
Job, innocent as the Bible tells us, cries out in anguish. And God replied. Actually, God answered Job from the whirlwind. The whirlwind of pain and suffering, perhaps? Or the whirlwind of His own presence? Or both?
The Lord challenges Job, the one on whom this misery had been forced, with questions like:
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?” (Taken from Job 38 NLT, emphasis mine)
The Lord challenges Job. Job replies, effectively, “I’ll stop talking now!” That is not enough for the Lord challenges Job again. Until Job finally replies:
“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:1-6 NLT)
Does God speak that way to me? To me? An American Christian girl living in this modern day? A person living as far away from Job’s time as time has yet allowed? Does God say to me as I rage and grieve for my baby daughter, “Catherine, where were YOU when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much?”
I don’t even want to go there. That feels harsh. I. Don’t. Like. That.
OK, well, why don’t I like that?
Because I want it my way. I want my daughter back. Because I had dreams for her. Dan wanted to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. Because clearly my idea of the best plan is…well…the best plan.
Am I sure?
How do I know?
Was I there when the foundations of the earth were laid?
ANNOYING! I still want it my way. I want her back.
Do I know where light comes from and where darkness goes?
No. I barely understood photons in high school physics.
Have I visited the storehouses of the snow?
Obviously not. I’ve been living in the South the past 10 years. No snow here. Not real snow, at least.
What if…just what if…God speaking to me like He spoke to Job is actually the most loving and compassionate and gentle thing He could do to me. To remind me that HE is God and I most certainly am not.
What if His ways are just so much greater than my ways and what if His thoughts were just so much higher than my thoughts that, actually, His plan (where, by the way, He can see all things in all time and is bound by nothing including time and space) is more magnificent than my plan? What if His plan is superior to my plan of keeping my daughter on planet Earth?
Would I want a less than God-approved superior plan?
Maybe if I am honest, I’d say no…I’d still like Abigail back…
But my deepest parts soul cries out to Him, “I want Your plan for I trust You are who You say You are, even when it hurts.”
And then, then when my deepest part of my soul can be heard amongst the crazy thoughts of my mind, I can then comprehend Job in his response.. I get it now.
See, I had only heard about the Lord before. I had only memorized His word and sat with His people and worshipped in His house. I had only heard about this sovereign God of the Universe before.
But now. Now. Now, I have seen Him with my own eyes. I am completely undone. And I am changed. And I am grateful.
Yes. Grateful. For I have seen how grief gives birth to His glory. The laboring is brutal, but the end result is worth it. I have seen His glory. I have seen my own purpose. To bring Him glory.
And that is the only salve that heals.