‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?
~Blessings, Laura Story
I’m talking to my sis on the phone.
Her MS has relapsed. She’s in a lot of pain; trouble standing, walking. She’s facing several days of grueling infusions at the Multiple Sclerosis Center in Boston.
I’m telling her my plans, how Hope and I will visit her first thing tomorrow. (Hope can bring cheer to any place.)
“Can I tell you something, J?” I say. “I’m still thinking through this but… well, you know the story about Joseph? We’re studying it in my Bible study. Remember how his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery? He was taken to Egypt, separated from his family for 24 years, wrongfully accused, thrown in prison. At the end of the story, when he’s reunited with his brothers he comforts and forgives them, saying, ‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… (Gen. 50:20)’
I’m trying to find the words, make sense of it all out loud.
“The phrase, ‘But God meant it for good.’ It’s been in my head for days. Last week I heard a story about a young girl who was hit by a car. She was paralyzed and suffered years of painful rehabilitation and therapy. The case went to trial, and the young girl was concerned that the woman who caused the accident would feel guilty for the rest of her life. Afterwards the girl approached the woman and said, ‘Don’t live your life in guilt. God meant this for good. I have come to know Him as a result of this pain.’
“That story and Joseph’s story have challenged me to look at my life, particularly, the hard stuff – losses, disappointments, times when I’ve been wronged or hurt, and dare I say, even autism – and see God’s goodness in it. Some people touched by autism might be enraged by my daring to say, God meant it for good. There are times when I’m angry at myself for even thinking such a thing.
Because the part of autism that causes my baby to suffer and struggle and miss out on so much? Make no mistake. I will never be o.k. with that. I will never get used to it.
And I know you can relate because of MS. You think you’re doing fine and all of a sudden reality slaps you in the face, literally knocks you down.
Happened to me today when a colleague casually asked what grade Rhema is in. Grade? I have no idea what grade she’s in – she’s in an intensive special needs school – we don’t even bother with grades. Or when our private speech therapist tested Rhema, and she scored the receptive language of a two-year old. Bam! Knock me down, down. But you know what the therapist said? She said, ‘For years Rhema’s been experiencing mini-seizures in the speech center of her brain. Her last EEG showed she’s seizing 58 times a minute! One would think that she could not process anything at all with that kind of electrical activity… But it seems like her brain has found a way… some other way!In spite of it all, she’s still learning – learning to attend, learning to understand, learning to learn. It’s been tough, but there’s still a lot of good!’
“Good, J. So much good. And of course I cannot begin to list all the ways we’ve grown and learned and loved because of Rhema. So I know I’m rambling and I turned this into a conversation about autism.
“But you get me? J, as you face these days again – the fear, the grief, the pain, the uncertainty (– and I’ll be right beside you, I promise) – can you still believe that God is always for you?
Can we, even when so much seems lost, say, His goodness has never lapsed. Not once. ?
And while we pray and wait, and wait and pray for healing, can we dare to look at our brokenness and see God’s good in it? In all of it?”
“Yes,” she says, uplifted and brave. “By grace, through faith.”
Then she adds, “When I think about Rhema, her life… well, I just know God meant it for good.”
Oh my sister, your life, too. For His good.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:1-3