This weekend, I heard someone say, “In the hardest circumstances of life we eventually ask two questions: ‘Is God here?’ And ‘Is He good?’”
While I’ve definitely wrestled with those very questions in the days since baby Charlie died, I’ve also begun to identify that there is one major question that’s on my heart continually as I cry out to the sky. I think we probably each have a few basic questions we bring to God over and over again, and that it’s the words we emphasize each day, that reveal what is really going on in our hearts in the asking.
For example, the question on my heart every single day since January 28th, 2013 is simply put, “Why would God let my baby die?”
First, in the deepest shock of January it was a lot of “Why would God let my baby DIE?” It just felt inconceivable that Charlie had died and I so badly wanted to know exactly how and exactly why. One moment I was hearing his strong little heartbeat and feeling him kick…and then suddenly he was gone forever from our lives. In so many ways, it does feel like an abduction…filled with mystery and uncertainty. It’s just that I happened to get a note from a really nice Abductor saying that my child was taken, and he is loved and happy. And not just loved and happy…wildly happy and even more deeply loved than I could ever conceive. And abducted by the One who made him…and honestly had every right to take him away.
I know that Charlie is loved by Almighty God, and like little Samuel with his robe…was given over to God for his whole life…but still, he was abducted just the same. Unlike Hannah, I didn’t chose to GIVE Charlie over to God…He took him from me. Tenderly, and with more love in mind than I can even conceive, but still, my baby was unexpectedly taken away. And so there are moments that the question remains strong…why did Charlie die? Why couldn’t I have “given him over to the Lord” like many parents do when their kid goes off to the mission field at twenty? Why for his whole life?
Which begs the question I emphasize more on other days “Why would God let my BABY die?” A baby! A precious tiny baby. Why did Charlie have to die as a baby…before we could ever even know him and love him as we had longed to so desperately?
Then on other days my question is “Why would God LET my baby die?” These are the days when I wrestle with God’s sovereignty. These are the days I have to remind myself over and over again that nothing happens apart from the will of the father. That NO sparrow falls apart from God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will…the God who ordains every one of each of our days. On these days I listen to sermons, and search hard after God’s heart in His Word for a deeper and fuller understanding of His sovereignty. These are the Sovereignty days.
And then other days it’s “Why would God let MY baby die?” Why did this happen to me?
These are the Job days. The days when I wrestle with why God wrote this for our specific story. For our family. For us to bring Him glory, through our lives. In the bad moments I wrestle with feeling unloved by God. Forgotten. Alone. Uncared for…especially as I look around at people who get to ask a similar but different question of God, “Why did God let my baby live? And in the good moments, I feel Job-like and trusted with something precious, and can sometimes even believe that GOD did this TO us because He trusts that we will, entirely by His grace, treasure Him as enough and believe that knowing Him and His love…is greater than any person or thing He could ever take away. But these are the Job days, when it all feels personal and intentional and I wrestle with why this happened to me. Why this baby? Why this moment in history? Why is God asking us to trust Him and treasure Him through this suffering?
And in a similar vein to those days is the “WHY would God let my baby die?” I cry out to God wondering what possible good could come from this new life of suffering that I hate? From so much pain. From taking a BABY away. From breaking me so permanently. From making us soul weep every day for the rest of our lives. Why. Why? Why! These are the WHY days.
As my friend put it, my questions could all be summed up like this…
WHY did God let my baby die? Why in the world?
Why did God LET my baby die? Why did He allow it/cause it and not stop it?
Why did God let MY baby die? Why me?
Why did God let my BABY die? Why a baby?
And ulitmately, Why did God let my baby DIE? Why was death the outcome; was there no other way?
But in the end…there is one question that remains. It is the greatest challenge of my life, and the battle ground of all true faith. Why did GOD let my baby die? Why Him? And these are perhaps the hardest of all…the GOD days.“Why would GOD let my baby die?” Why would GOD…this God who I trusted and loved and believed cared about me and was for me and had chosen to give us Charlie…why did God give him to us…just to take him away? This God who I trusted with this gift and thanked for this gift and prayed to about this gift…why would HE do this to me? And can I still trust this God…that He is near and that He is good, when we are absolutely reeling from pain? And these are ugly, painful questions.
But on the why GOD days…they are ever lurking under the wavering surface of my heart and mind. And they are honest. And I know I’m not the only fragile, human being who has ever asked them of the sky.And sometimes, on these “God days” this same God, who I wrestle with constantly, in His deep and undeserved grace, gives me glimpses of His heart when I absolutely do not feel close enough anymore to see the curves of His face.
Today, my friend sent me the following words. They were a glance into the heart of God…on another one of my “God days.”
“The deep fear behind every loss is that we have been abandoned by the God who should have saved us. The transforming moment in Christian conversion comes when we realize that even God has left us. We then discover it was not God, but our image of God that abandoned us…. Only then is change possible.” ~Margaret Manning
And this is the real answer to my “God days” longings and wrestlings. GOD…the God I had thought I knew and loved and trusted…that God, or at least that image of God, is gone forever from my life.
And something, SomeOne closer to the real God…is being redefined in His place.Not just redefined, but known by me. And slowly, but surely, loved by me. Loved by me in new ways, as I meet a new picture of God…still just an image, but somehow closer to the real God…who I will someday meet. The real God who I will someday be close enough to touch. Close enough to see the tenderness in His eyes. Close enough to finally see the very lines on His face.