Playing Games.

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In the weeks since the Lord has asked me to pry open my hands and let go of the concept of getting a diagnosis for our girls, I have experienced nothing short of a miracle. God has truly taken away the desire to “know” and replaced it with a desire, much deeper than knowing, to simply trust Him.

And then this happened.

Last week, when we were already in bed, Hugh got a message from a particular neurologist at the hospital. A known neuro guru was going to be in town, and he wanted to know if we could be at the hospital the next day to be presented as a case study. Suddenly, I was back in the trenches of the diagnosis. I looked up the doctor, began to feel hopeful, and thought to myself, “You know, maybe I needed to let go in order to actually find out. Maybe that was the key all along!” I tried to keep myself protected from assuming we would get more information, but I tried in vain.

We went to the meeting, explained the details for the millionth time, and were given back a long, wordy speech that basically ended in the same thing we have heard for months: I don’t know either. I may never know. You may never know.

The all too familiar feeling of balancing trusting the Lord in His goodness and feeling disappointed came back, but I tried to think bigger picture and moved on.

At the beginning of the week, a particular clinic we have visited before called to tell us that the physician at that clinic needed to see us again, as he had information to talk to us about.

<cue familiar emotions about getting answers>

Try as I might, I could not help but feel, yet again, the hope that he was on to something. We got to the appointment, and you can tell where this is going. He had no valuable reason for calling us back in, except to lay eyes on the girls once more. He gave us some paperwork for our records, and sent us on our way. (But not without adding some unsolicited thoughts or opinions to the mix). If you can’t sense it already, I will just lay it out there: I was mad. After already having a long day at the hospital the day prior, getting some news that we expected but was not necessarily fun to confirm, I could not understand why God had allowed this appointment to be. I felt more than defeated, and as we drove home it was very clear to me that I was not upset with man; I was mad at God Himself. I turned the music up, hot, heavy tears streaming down my face, and said out loud, “God- is this how you treat your child? Your child who, at the very least, is trying so very hard to be faithful to You in all this? I am depending on You God, and it feels like you are playing games with me.”

Playing games. That was the phrase I needed to articulate. At once, l had an image of His Son up on the cross, and the mystery became all the more great.

Is this how He treats His child?

Without the bigger picture, it seems like much more than playing a game. It seems cruel, if that was the end of the story. But God. Thanks be to God that it’s not.

“But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”- Hebrews 2:9

You know, I am still in the thick of this hard, and there are so many lessons that I am typing as I go, per say. Yet, yesterday was such a beautiful reminder for me that God’s ways are so mysterious, so much bigger, so much more complex, than I will ever understand. In His Word, we see Abraham, called to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on the mountain. I cannot imagine what that trek to Moriah felt like. God steps in right before the sacrifice is made, and a glorious depiction of Him offering another sacrifice instead of Isaac is shown, yet the details of the story are still the same and it’s easy for us to relate to Abraham in the times that we feel as if we are walking through test after test after test. When we are stripped of comforts and relationships and health, in these seasons in which we relate to the Jobs of the world, it is tempting to wonder how there is goodness in it all. But God. One of the most precious things about this relationship is that on the days that I do ask, ‘Why?’ and feel Him come up silent; I am reminded that His answering my ‘why’ is much less important than His walking me through it.

Friends, God is not playing games with us. These trials, these details that seem utterly pointless at best and cruel at worst, are the very pieces that are crucial to our faith. We may never know the reasons behind why God does certain things in our lives, yet the point is not to know all but to trust Him IN all. Understanding that God is God includes the notion that we are not going to fathom everything He does in the midst of our own humanity. We may gather bits and pieces of it, but as His Word says,

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or, who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?”- Romans 11:34-35

He has given us not only our physical breath and life; He has given us Himself and the free offer of eternal life. This is the greatest mystery of all.

Yesterday did not make sense to me. I do not know why God saw it fit to bring us to two situations where a diagnosis was sought after we had already fought so very hard to lay that at His feet. Yet, this I know for sure: He was not dangling it in front of us, laughing at my pain. He is for us. He is for me. He is for you. All the details of our lives serve purpose, and He is working in all things. He is entitled to do that which He chooses; and that which He chooses is always a part of a glorious, bigger plan. He does not enjoy seeing His children in pain; so if He permits the pain to come, we can be assured it will one day be worth it. It may not ever make sense on this side of heaven, but it will make sense for all of eternity. He carries us through those moments we do not understand and He comforts us in our weakness. He gives us the grace to put one foot in front of the other in any and all circumstances. This is our God. May we fix our eyes not on what is seen today, but what is unseen. May we ask for the grace to be able to trust Him even when all surroundings contradict that trust. As Mike Mason puts it,

“Divine contradiction is like an exotic food or music: one must acquire a taste for it. Many people, even the very religious, have no real stomach for mysterium tremendum. They are fine when gazing up into a starry sky, but when they encounter the infinite abyss of Christ on the human level, it turns their stomachs…the greatest test of genuine faith comes in situations where God seems to us to be contradicting Himself or playing games…it is right here, in the turbulent waters of divine contradiction, that faith must perform its strange navigation.”

May we rely on His faithfulness in the midst of all the hard; and may we sense His goodness in the divine contradictions at hand. All is grace, my friends. All is grace.

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