I used to say things like, “God has never let me down in the past, so I can trust that He won’t in the future.” But now when I try to say that, the words get stuck in my throat. I begged Him to spare Lucy’s life. I begged Him to spare us the pain of losing another baby after we lost Lucy. I begged Him AGAIN to please protect our hearts from more hurt after we lost Jude. He did none of those things. Did God let me down?
If I’m honest, yes, God let me down, big time. He gave me my sweet daughter that I’ve always wanted and then snatched her back out of my arms before her life could really start. The past year of my life has been the most spectacular disaster, seemingly engineered to break my spirit and cause me breathtaking pain. Many of my pleas to God have been answered with an obvious, “No.” He has allowed my heart to be broken and I have watched my husband’s heart break and my two little boys weep over the loss of their baby sister. Did God let me down?
I had expectations of God and how He should order my life. He did not meet my expectations. But I know God is not in the wrong, because He is perfect and He loves me unconditionally. My expectations were wrong. I expected Him to keep me and my family safe from heartache and pain. He never promised me that, so why did I expect it? In fact, He promises trouble in this life.
John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
As Lucy died, God told me that He would redeem it. The whole time I was giving birth and recovering in the hospital afterwards He told me repeatedly that He would redeem it. I had a picture of what that redemption should look like in my head, and it definitely didn’t involve more heartache or more babies of mine dying. Just because He hasn’t redeemed it YET and He hasn’t redeemed it in the way I expected, that does not mean that He has let me down. I think it means He has something better for me than my human expectations.
God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to. – E. Elliott
Part of me thinks that because I try to obey God and honor Him He should protect me from pain and give me the things that I want. Part of me thinks that He owes me A LOT since He took Lucy and my two other little ones. He owes me a live baby. Again, my human expectations get in the way and try to fit God into a very small, predictable box. Have I forgotten the earnest prayer I prayed just last year before I got pregnant with Lucy, “Oh Lord, humble me. Make my life count for eternity. Let my life be a light to others that draws them to you. Do WHATEVER it takes to rid me of my complacency. Deepen my relationship with you.” He has answered that prayer with a yes and the way He is answering that prayer is through suffering. Isn’t that prayer more important than the “protect me from pain” prayer?
I know I always talk about her, but I can’t help it. Elisabeth Elliott’s husband was a missionary to the Auca indians in South America. He was obeying God and serving Him and God let the Aucas murder him. They also murdered four other missionaries and left many children without Daddies and wives without their husbands.
The families reacted with love and forgiveness towards the Auca indians and eventually it led to the gospel spreading through the tribe. That was several decades ago and since then lots of people have wanted to know how many Auca indians became Christians after the missionaries were slaughtered. It is one of the questions that people most often ask Elisabeth Elliott. Here’s her answer:
There is always the urge to oversimplify…five men died. This will mean x-number of Auca Christians. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Cause and effect are in God’s hands. Is it not the part of faith simply to let them rest there? God is God. I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. It is the same spirit that taunted, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” There is unbelief, there is even rebellion, in the attitude which says, “God has no right to do this to five men unless…” – E. Elliott
I’m learning to let go of my human expectations of God and I’m letting go of my idea of what justice should look like. I’m learning to expect MORE from God and to hold Him to it. I expect Him to redeem my loss in whatever way He wants and I’m trusting that it will be better than I can imagine. I expect Him to carry me through the pain and be with me in my suffering. I expect Him to heal me and Josh and Liam and Asher. He will not let me down.