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