This past week, I’ve been preoccupied with mortality and fragility. One of my close friends, Holly, has a friend my age who recently suffered a severe stroke. Joanne is the writer of The Simple Wife blog and the author of several books. Like me, she homeschooled her children. I feel a certain affinity with her because I, too, am the mother of a twelve year old girl. The fact that her daughter is the one who found her after her stroke still gets to me, down deep in a swirling nebula that is my heart.
Now her homeschooled daughters are enrolled in a Christian school while their mother has yet to regain consciousness. Her husband sits by her bedside covering her in prayer, posting updates on his wife’s blog. In a flash, their lives completely changed. I find myself wondering: what if that happened to me? What if my homeschooled daughter found me lying unresponsive on the floor? What would happen to her schooling? Would my husband do as Joanne’s husband has done, hijacking my blog and posting updates, all but quitting work so he could be with me? Or would he throw himself into his work as a means to cope, to keep his mind busy?
He has always left our schooling decisions mostly up to me…what would he decide to do if I became unable to teach our daughter and was unable to tell him my wishes? How would his faith in the Lord stand in the face of such turmoil? My dear husband, who grieves still over the babies we lost to miscarriage…how would he handle it if the Lord took me, too? And my little girl’s faith? My sweet little talkative feminist in the making who is wrestling at the moment with Bible verses such as 1 Timothy 2:11 which instructs women to be silent…how would her faith hold up under such an enormous load?
These wonderings make me fall to my virtual knees as I write these words. I realize I need to take my prayer life up several notches. I need to pray fervently for strengthening faith in all of us…the kind of faith that does not falter or fade away in troubled times. I want my family to have roots in Jesus that grow so deeply that we will have the ability to stand firm as Joanne’s family is standing firm through their trial. I want my daughter and my husband to grow in the Lord apart from me, in their own ways, so that if the Lord did call me away, I would have no fear for the state of their faiths. I want my mom and dad, brother and soon to be siser-in-law, to grow ever closer to the Lord beyond anything they’ve experienced before…I want them and my extended family, neighbors and friends and CC community to crave the wisdom and knowledge and peace that has its source in the Lord alone…
Not that they do not already crave Him, but that they will not stop desiring God no matter what happens. My prayer is also for Joanne’s family and friends..that this turmoil will strengthen their identities in Christ..that they will not give up and give in to anger and bitterness and blame.
Did I blame the Lord when I miscarried? I turn my mind to the words of Job, whose suffering mirrors those of Joanne’s family in some ways and of my family as we deal with my fibromyalgia and miscarriages:
8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
10 But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.
Those words pierced my heart. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God? God uses bad things to achieve purposes we can’t even envision. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, their bad action set in motion a divine conspiracy that eventually saved an entire nation from famine. Joseph apparently did not let his suffering turn him away from the Lord. He accepted his situation, did the best he could do in every situation, and trusted the Lord to provide restoration and healing. We know from Job’s story that the Lord restored everything back to Job, and then some.
If my family ever suffers tragedy like Joanne’s, I pray we will be like Joseph and Job, and not like Job’s wife, who advised him to go ahead and “Curse God and die.”
Job’s acceptance was not an easy one…he did cry out to God. He did complain (I wish my complaints could be as poetic as his!) But underlying it all was a steadfast, foundational belief that God is Sovereign and is in complete, absolute control. I want that assurance for myself and my family, and for Joanne’s family.
Even though we don’t know what lies ahead of us, we can rest in the solid assurance that God not only knows, but also has contingency plans beyond our wildest conceptions.