Wrestling with God

January 12, 2015 at 11:36 AM by Susanna

No longer crushed in the black and hopeless pit.

No longer suffering under the scathing scorn of those who pull the pin and toss their malicious grenades before scurrying back to their stinking hellholes.

No longer giving the enemy a place on my shoulder, next to my ear.  No ear, no millisecond of time for accusing lies from within or without.

The lies that echo round and round and round until they roll easily off the tongue.

“Where now is your God?  The God you claimed would never abandon His people?  You must have failed Him.  Don’t you dare blame Him for this.  This was your failure.”

No more lies about who I am.

No more lies about who God is.

 

A helpless god?

A helpless god is no comfort to me.

A private god that fits in my hand, that molds itself to my will.

A sweet, fluffy vanilla marshmallow god that I can squeeze and sniff when I feel stressed.

No comfort to me.

 

A simple god?

A simple god is no comfort to me.

A god formed by an insistence that All must fit inside my tiny, blind, helpless but rebellious paradigm.

A god formed by the superstitious acceptance of simple cause-and-effect that my earthbound mind can easily encompass.  My goat must be dry because those twins were born to my neighbor.

Even the god of scientific superstition made of desperation for logical connections and rejection of the offensive idea of a transcendent and all-powerful God.

Such a god is no comfort to me.

 

But even if it was…

 

Even if it was…

 

I made that ancient god myself.

I would not trust it nor give myself to it.

Will I trust the scrabblings and creatings of my own mind?

Or the One who has revealed Himself to me as sovereign over all?

I cannot do both.

 

I was created for One who is greater than myself.  He decides who He is, I don’t decide who I want Him to be.

In this truth lies my greatest torment and my greatest safety.

I don’t get to skip to the end, artificially peaceful smile plastered over the wrenching agony.

I am Jacob, wrestling to the finish with a muscled and complex God.

How dare I?

But He invites me to the struggle; He does not rebuke me for it.  He named His people Israel.

 

I can’t control Him.

Torment.

Torment to a Self who longs for autonomy.

A Self who is more influenced by her man-centered, choice-worshiping culture than she knew.

The Self who is sure she could write a better ending.

 

I can’t control Him.

Safety.

True safety for a child who is strongly bonded to her father.  Am I?  I want to be.

I am leaning purposefully into my Father’s lap, relinquishing my anguished and pitiful efforts to survive by staying in control, knowing–knowing–He decides what is best for me out of His great love for me.

I trust the One who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up to die for me.

I am safe in Him.

And because of the safety, comfort.

 

A simple, weak, helpless God?  Trying His best, but He doesn’t always get His way?  The enemy is stronger?  Bad stuff keeps getting through when He’s not looking?

 

No.

He is All, or He is nothing.

That means He is All Love.

 

And I will not let You go until You bless me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But God is round about me

January 1, 2015 at 11:23 PM by Susanna

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

Joyful Brandi news!

December 23, 2014 at 10:29 AM by Susanna

 

Latest update from Jeannie Myers, Brandi’s mom, who also posted HERE ON BRANDI’S PUBLIC FACEBOOK PAGE:

 

Thank you all so much for praying. I’m sorry we haven’t been able to email; our computer went kaput when we tried to send an update, and we were just now able to have it fixed.

 

Picking up Brandi from the orphanage~

picking up Brandi at the orphanage

 

 

Driving away from the orphanage~

driving away

 

On the plane flight, she gradually became more and more lethargic.

 

The moment Brandi became a US citizen~ 

the moment Brandi became a US citizen

 

By the time we were standing in line for Immigrations, she was cold and pale. We made the decision to drive on down to UVA, but halfway there her breathing became more shallow, and she eventually became unresponsive. If you can imagine us barreling down the highway at 80 mph in a full-size van with the baby sleeping in the middle seat, Dan in the backseat trying to wake Brandi and me up front trying to hold it together and resist the urge to go 90, you can begin to understand how thankful we are for your prayers. (Those of you who have seen me drive KNOW angels were involved.)

When we arrived at the ER, Brandi’s temperature was 90 degrees F. They started IV fluids and two powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics, initially diagnosing her with sepsis, a blood infection. So far, cultures taken that night are coming back negative. If they are still clear tomorrow, she can stop receiving antibiotics.  She is much better now and has been moved from Pediatric ICU to a regular Peds floor.

She has been given a new NG tube and is receiving Pediasure, a liquid food replacement formula, every three hours. Her blood is drawn every 12 hours to check her electrolytes, and her IV fluids are adjusted to help even out her potassium and phosphorus levels as her body adjusts to a different kind and amount of nutrition. This should prevent refeeding syndrome.

She cannot properly swallow and will need a G-tube placed surgically as a long-term feeding solution. It can eventually be removed if she learns how to eat on her own.

The other GI issue of concern is a possible bowel blockage.

Well, I’ll spare you the rest of the medical details, except to say that we are very grateful for the team of specialists here who are addressing her many needs. She will likely be in the hospital for another week of tests and procedures; then we can go HOME!

Please pray for our older three children, who are missing Mama and a little disappointed about Christmas in the hospital, although they adore their new sister. They are in gowns and gloves in this picture because Brandi is a MRCA carrier and is on isolation.

 

Meeting her new siblings~

meeting two of her new siblings

 

This means that the children cannot go to common areas like the family lounge or playroom and must wear those spiffy outfits the entire time they are hanging out in Brandi’s little room. Our plan to have the whole family at the hospital is not working out. But some very generous friends have gifted us with a two-night stay at a hotel near the hospital, so we can have Christmas together as a family!

Prayer requests:

-that the doctors can discover the source of the pain Brandi’s been having for the last 24 hours

– her electrolytes would continue to stabilize so she can lose the IV

– she handles anesthesia okay for a short procedure tomorrow

– that we and the doctors would have wisdom in prioritizing her needs

– that the many doctors, nurses, and therapists who have heard about God’s goodness and greatness through Brandi will seek Him

– as we receive more and more information about the damage neglect and abuse has done to our child, that anger at the injustice will not turn into bitterness

– above all, that God is glorified in our family and in our hearts – that we would continually remember His mercy in sending His Son to redeem us and bring justice

–Jeannie and Dan

 

First time in a wheelchair~

first time in a wheelchair