But God is round about me

January 1st, 2015

Learn to trust in a withdrawing God,’ advises Thomas Manton, and it is to this degree of faith that the experience of desertion can lead us.  Of this faith speaks Thomas Brooks when he writes in his treatise, “The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod,” ‘By divine withdrawings, the soul is put upon hanging upon a naked God, a naked Christ, a naked promise, Is. 50:10.’

This degree of faith trusts God as He is, not as He is felt; and trusts in Christ for what he has done, not for what it has experienced of his doing. 

‘Learn therefore,’ urges John Flavel, to ‘exercise the faith of adherence, when you have lost the faith of evidence.’

~from The Genius of Puritanism, by Peter Lewis

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Dear Susanna,

I read your most recent blog post and all I can say is that I am right there with you. The reason I am writing you is to tell you that we, too, experienced utter silence from the Lord after adopting. It was as if everything good was sucked out of our lives- and replaced with pain. [Description of sufferings]  After months of unanswered prayers and endless emotional breakdowns, I felt as if I was literally hopeless.

What does any of this have to do with you and Tommy? Regardless of whether Tommy lived or died, you were and still are struggling.

I will never know why the Lord [brought this specific suffering into our family’s life]. But I know the Lord is good. And that none of this was intended to hurt me, even though I still cry myself to sleep almost every night. God is with [the children we have lost]. And He is with us as we fight the evil intended to distract us from the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.

If you ever need a stranger to speak to, I am here for you.

Love,
——

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Your email, ——, is one of the kindest, most empathetic, most encouraging, and most insightful I have received. I’m just truly sorry it has taken so long to reply. Forgive me.

Do you know, I asked God to show me Himself after Tommy died, and He did show me a side of Himself I had never known from experience–the God who takes full credit for bringing terrible pain into the lives of His own children. Jeremiah says to Him in Lam. 3, “You draw Your bow and set me as the target for Your arrow.” Then goes on to say how great His faithfulness is. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and God Himself is our best Friend. The pain He brings us is inflicted faithfully and lovingly and is never wasted.

Walking alongside you in this path of suffering,
Susanna

 

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Susanna,
I hope you are finding a bit of time to rest and experience the Lord’s peace this Christmas season. I love the scripture you sent. Many blessings to you all this Christmas.

Much Love,
——

 

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A poem my aunt sent me after Tommy died, and I want you to read it, too~

Far Nobler

Far nobler the sword that is nicked and worn;
Far fairer the flag that is grimy and torn
Than when to the battle fresh they were borne.

He was tried and found true; he stood the test;
‘Neath the whirlwinds of doubt, when all the rest
Crouched down and submitted, he fought best.

There are wounds on his breast that can never be healed;
There are gashes that bleed and may never be sealed,
But, wounded and gashed, he won the field.

And others may dream in their easy chairs,
And point their white hands to the scars he bears;
But the crown and the laurel are his–not theirs.
~Author unknown

Thank you for saying YES to God and YES to [your child]. God knew all along exactly what would happen after he got home, and He trusted you with this terribly painful road. He knew that like Job, you would not deny Him no matter how excruciatingly hard it got.

I love you,

Susanna

 

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Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful poem. I teared up reading it- wondering if God really intended him to be with us for just a short while or if somehow I failed the Lord. I have wondered that very question every day for the past several months. For now, I continue to pray for insight into God’s great intention. He wanted me to see something….. to understand something…..but just don’t know that piece of the lesson yet.

 

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For me, it’s enough right now to rest in His intention toward me even if I don’t know the WHY maybe ever. Now I can see that He is yearning over me and sorrowing with me like I do over my children if they have to suffer some specific pain for some greater good that they simply don’t have the ability to comprehend.

Yes, He takes credit for my suffering. He bends His bow and sets me as the target for His arrow.

But He isn’t glad I’m hurting!

He isn’t causing me pain just because He can!

He isn’t brushing off His hands and saying, “That’s what you get for being a sinner!”

He isn’t being dispassionate about my suffering like it’s just another casual item on His divine checklist for me!

Christmas list for Susanna: Grief, check. Loss, check. Struggle, check. Pain, check.

Not at all!

His overarching intention for me is not pain, in and of itself! His big-picture intention is some greater good that I am not capable of comprehending any more than Katie can comprehend why she needs a painful medical procedure. He sees the big picture of what I am UNABLE to comprehend right now. He knows WHY the magnitude of this tragedy. He knows WHY it had to be THIS PERMANENT, THIS COMPREHENSIVE, THIS PAINFUL. And just because He doesn’t explain the reasons, He doesn’t fauIt me for wondering WHY it had to be THIS UNBEARABLY BAD. He made me to be a logical person and that’s a question logical people ask and analyze and theorize about. Even Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning, and knew precisely WHY He had to suffer, asked His Father, “My God, My God, WHY have You forsaken Me?” 

WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THIS BAD?

But I can now rest in the knowledge that He is not prevented from making me understand any of the WHY if He so desires. I’m trusting and resting in Him, in His heart toward me. I’m comforted knowing that His Fatherly heart is yearning over me in enormous love and compassion, that He pities me, His hurting child. I can bury my face in His shoulder and cry my heart out and know that He is weeping with me, just as I weep if my child is suffering great agony.

Does that make sense? I didn’t really see and know and experience that until recently and it was a long, pitched battle full of setbacks to get from there to here.

Affectionately,

Susanna

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The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

~Anna Laetitia Waring

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9 Responses to “But God is round about me”

  1. I understand you Susanna though I too don’t understand the ways of God but do trust Him. Here’s a poem I wrote in 2003 within a few days of my personal tragedy:

    THE ROCK
    The sea rages against this rock,
    The fierce winds rip and tear.
    Howbeit that this rock still stands?
    The torrents, the darkness that has befallen this place.
    The harshness of the sand daily shaping it’s countenance.
    The heat that rises, yet bears down upon thee.
    The shaping and forming of this beautiful sight.
    How can we understand that it’s true beauty lies in its endurance.

    Yes, our Living God is shaping you through this. Why, we don’t know but I see you continue to trust Him and seek answers even if you don’t receive.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for this post.
    Thank you for not turning your back on The One who allows suffering.
    Thank you for trusting that He knows best – He sees the bigger picture, and he has a reason for allowing what He does.
    Thank you for remembering that Jesus will Never, Never Fail!
    -Still praying for all of you-

  3. miriam says:

    Thank you for sharing this truth, Susanna. My husband and I are praying for you and your family.

  4. Tricia says:

    Susanna, I don’t think that when Jeremiah said that that it was true, but just how HE FELT. If you read the rest of it, you’ll see that he goes on like Job did, wishing he had never been born. It’s sort of like when Elijah said that he was the only prophet left, because that was his understanding at the moment. God told him that no, he had reserved a certain number for himself, and also Obadiah told him he had hidden two groups of prophets in caves. So just because it says that doesn’t mean that it means what it looks like at first glance. Maybe the pain here is caused by the inability to accept God’s will in this instance. Understandably, you want to hit that undo button because it’s just too hard to believe that God could still be in control when something this awful happens. But He is and He is perfectly able to make good come out of even this. You have to let go of your will (stop hitting the undo button, wishing for time to turn back). There is not a single thing that will ever happen that He did not allow, and that’s all we need to know. He is good, so how can what he allows be bad? It can’t be, but our sinful human natures tell us that we know better than God. How sad is that? I know my first reaction is to question when anything goes wrong, but the challenge is to overcome by laying down our own will like Jesus did. It seems impossible, but He has promised to help us. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us. He is faithful. He is our hope. He overcame and we can do the same through Him.

  5. Tricia says:

    I forgot to say that the verses in Jeremiah I referred to are 20:7-18. He also says God tricked him. Dear, beloved Jeremiah – so similar in some ways to Job.

  6. Gina in Spain says:

    hugs….

  7. Thank you for your post… I needed it. I have really struggled with several situations that seemed to have piled on our family in the past few years… especially the past 6 months.

    Much love… and don’t stop writing. I need to read them to know I am NOT suffering alone.

    (((hug))

  8. Shari says:

    I thought of Tommy the other day while listening to C.S. Lewis’ *Last Battle*. Tommy came to mind when the oldest of the children, now grown into elderly people, described the train wreck that put them back into Narnia. They said they felt as if they had been “unstiffened”. I pictured him as a strong young adult walking around smiling and talking with others there in heaven. I wonder what jokes he is telling. His face in your blog often seemed to be laughing at a funny joke.

  9. Hannah S says:

    Read this yesterday, in Job 36:15-16– PROMISE

    “He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
    And opens their ear by adversity.
    He also allured you out of distress
    Into a broad place where there was no cramping
    And what was set on your table was full of fatness.”

    Many hugs and blessings,
    Hannah

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