My beautiful daughter has lived with continual pain for more than 5 years. A number of specialists from local providers, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Duke University Medical Center have confirmed rotator cuff damage, thoracic outlet syndrome and partial rib development to be the root cause of her hurts. This led to multiple trips for multiple surgeries resulting in permanent nerve damage – think receptors sending continual signals of being on fire throughout your body. A plethora of medicinal experiments have been attempted to no avail. Just in case you might wonder if it is possible for a once joyful teenager to endure more, she recently received an additional diagnosis of fibromyalgia from the experts at Duke University Neurology and Pain Clinic.
My child’s faith has been put to the test and she continues to cling to the truth of a God she once felt loved by. There are questions and anger, but she chooses to believe beyond her experience. Given the fact that her mind holds on to the hope of a God her senses cannot detect, thoughts turn to questioning the character of this eternal being.
We believe in the sovereignty of God so clearly displayed through the collection of letters and inspired works contained in the bible. Being sovereign, does this mean He has purposefully, intentionally and cold-heartedly chosen a life of pain for my daughter? Note that placid antidotes on the suffering of others, including Christ Himself, offer no solace in response to this question. This is my daughter and her personal pain for which we seek specific answers. If God has chosen her for pain, why? What is she to learn? What greater good will be accomplished? Quite honestly, there is no answer that could possibly serve to satisfy. If God is God, He could achieve an equally magnificent outcome through another means in which my child need not suffer.
If, on the other hand, this is not the doing of God and is simply the result of a fallen world, then what other experiences fall outside the control of this semi-sovereign eternal being?
These are the questions we have wrestled with as a family. These are questions for which my most intensive sessions of study, research, counsel and prayer have found no solace. We have determined that this is something we simply cannot understand at this point in eternity. This is not an acceptance of peace and offers no closure; it is more a resignation of being beyond my most diligent mental capacity.
A Wise Perspective
My wife, Stacey, is extremely gifted at perceiving the current emotions of those with whom she comes into contact. This enables her to readily discern the most helpful responses to any given moment. Stacey has had many conversations centered on the topic at hand with my daughter. These have varied from empathy to encouragement, through consolation and admonition, into the heart and across all logic.
Last night, while talking with our daughter on God’s purpose for her life, Stacey made a profound statement. She openly and vulnerably acknowledged that we just don’t understand what God is doing here. With pure authenticity, she told our daughter that it is okay to be angry – expressing her own anger toward God. From there, Stacey declared:
I don’t know if God chose this for you. I do know, however, that God HAS chosen YOU. He HAS chosen to heal you, completely. And I proclaim that healing over your life.
In this, all focus shifts from the perhaps unknowable past to absolute hope in a faithful promise for the future. I love this! This creative act of speaking healing over my daughter and appropriating it into her life will be honored.
I still have much to learn.