I received the following meditation from my dear fousin this past week and I cannot begin to articulate how it blessed me or how it spoke to the very stirrings I had been dealing with in my heart.
Let us imagine our confusion when we appear before God and understand the reasons why He sent us the crosses we accept so unwillingly. The death of a child will then be seen as its rescue from some great evil and if they had lived, separation from the woman you love the means of saving you from an unhappy marriage, a severe illness the reason for many years of life afterwards, loss of money the means of saving your soul from eternal loss. So what are we worried about? God is looking after us and yet we are full of anxiety! We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business. He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it. We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill. Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way! It looks as if we do not trust his wisdom and are afraid he cannot do his job properly. We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake--a mistake which may cost us our life--and protest when God set to work on us.
If we could see all he sees we would unhesitatingly wish all he wishes. We would beg him on bended knees for those afflictions we now ask him to spare us. To all of us he addresses the words spoken to the sons of Zebedee: You know not what you ask--O blind of heart, your ignorance saddens me. Let me manage your affairs and look after your interests. I know what you need better than you do yourselves. If I paid heed to what you think you need, you would have been hopelessly ruined long ago.
--St. Claude de la Columbiere (a French Jesuit priest and the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Died in 1682)
You see, I'm the type of person who wants answers. I have a strong, unwavering desire to deal in black and white...gray area does not please me. For one, black and white makes it quite simple to decide who is right and who is wrong. Since I desire to be right, I love things that are cut and dry. Here's the problem du jour (or of life), suffering is not black and white. God's will is not black and white. People want answers when their loved one is dying, or when they are experiencing financial hardship or when they are in the midst of a marriage encountering great turmoil.
We cry out to God in anguish.
We ask have you forgotten me?
Why is this happening?
Why are innocent people suffering such terrible hardships?
How can this be good?
Please take this away.
And yet, He is not a god that will bow to our whims. He is not one who sees everything: the past, the present, the future, what could happen, what should happen, what will spring forth out of this suffering, who might be saved as a result of said suffering...and then decides that He'll give his demanding children what they want even though He knows best.
It has been one of the greatest lessons in my life and one that I continue to both struggle with, and grow in deeper knowledge of. I have constantly asked, can I pray for something specific or should I just pray for God's will? I then ask, well, am I not really faithful if I pray for something but then do not necessarily stand in faith and believe that what is asked will be received? Where is the balance?
When I get lost in the questions, I am no sooner reminded of one of my favorite verses from the book of Isaiah:
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
If I understood the mind of Christ, He wouldn't really be that great of a god. Just like, in a very small way (to pull from the illustration used in the excerpt from St. Claude), if everyone could bring healing and had the mind of a surgeon, they wouldn't really possess a valuable skill or be thought of or revered in the manner they are. There are going to be some unanswered questions and some things about God that even the most intelligent human being will not be able to wrap their pea-sized brain around.
But, God did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. He promised that NOTHING could ever separate us from His love and it's because of this that we can rest in the knowledge that "He's got this" and "He's got us." He doesn't need our help, just our trust. All we have to do is surrender and acknowledge that although we might not understand the storms, struggles and trials in this life, God is still good...all the time.