I don’t know how God does it.
Seriously. I can’t figure it out.
How He sits up there or out there or wherever “there” is and allows us to learn important lessons by going through hard things that just naturally happen to us during the course of our lives . . . well, I just know I couldn’t do it.
Like the other night. Our daughter, Beth, was driving to Texas with her husband, Brian, to have Thanksgiving with his family down there. Somewhere along the way she picked up a bad chicken wrap and became violently ill.
I mean v-i-o-l-e-n-t-l-y. While traveling. I think you get the picture.
It was a long trip, with frequent stops for all sorts of unpleasantness. And by the time they got to their destination she and Brian were both pretty worn out from it all.
Thanks to Verizon and the late Steve Jobs, we were aware of what she was going through. Having been sick in the car a number of times in my life, I knew what she was feeling. If there was anything in the world I could have done to alleviate her suffering, I would have done it – just like that. If I was God, I would have snapped my omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent fingers or whatever it is that God does to make miracles happen, and I would have taken all of that uckiness away from Beth.
But I couldn’t do that, and God chose not to. So Beth suffered. And she got through it, while Brian had the opportunity to be, in Beth’s words, “the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful husband in the world.” Brian took good care of Beth. He got them there safely. He cleaned up several gross messes. He did laundry. He rubbed her neck and held back her hair, and by the time they got to Arlington, Beth saw her husband as the most heroic Texan this side of Sam Houston.
Or at least Tony Romo.
Now, I’m not attributing any of this to Divine Planning.
Now, I’m not attributing any of this to Divine Planning. Who am I to speculate about His will when I wrestle with stuff like original recipe or extra crispy? I’m just saying that Beth and Brian are closer and more in love today than they were three days ago because of what they went through together. And none of that would have happened if I was calling the shots, because I wouldn’t have allowed any of it to happen. I wouldn’t have allowed my daughter to suffer.
And her marriage would have suffered as a result.
Then there was last night. We got a call from another daughter, Andrea, who was up late into the night with her son Alexander, who seemed to have croup. Our youngest son, Jon, used to have croup-like symptoms a lot, so I knew exactly what Andrea was feeling while she held her 15-month-old son in her arms as he struggled to breathe, coughing that raspy little croupy cough, his eyes filled with confusion and fear.
I would have given anything to be able to miraculously make Alexander breathe easily, and to give his mother some peace and rest – especially since Andrea’s husband, Adam, is at school 3,000 miles away and Andrea is having to deal with stuff like this pretty much on her own. If I was God, I would have fixed it. Right then. No questions asked. And while I was at it, I would have given Adam his Master’s Degree so he didn’t have to be gone any more.
Of course, he may not have as much appreciation for a degree that is “poofed” upon him as he will for a degree that he works and sacrifices for. And Andrea tells me that as hard as it is to be separated from her husband, they are growing in their love and appreciation for each other, and she is becoming a stronger, more independently powerful person in the process.
All good stuff, thanks to God, who in His infinite wisdom is allowing Andrea and Adam to learn and grow – together and separately – through the consequences of their choices and the inescapable vicissitudes of life – from which I would have facilitated escape, if it was up to me.
Which it wasn’t. Thank God.
And that is exactly what I’m going to do this Thanksgiving. I’m going to thank God for the challenges and difficulties we all encounter that teach us, shape us and mold our attitudes and character. I’m grateful that He loves us enough to sit up there – or out there or wherever “there” is – and watch us as we learn the important lessons life teaches us through the things we suffer.
Even if we don’t know how – or why – He does it.