The day before we left for Florida, after my good ultrasound, I got a lot of "God is good" messages. You here it said all the time after we get good news or the thing we desired came to be... whether it's a new job we wanted, God's provision with finances, an accident we were protected from or a good ultrasound after losing a baby. We tend to shout "God is good" from the mountain tops when we're on them.
But what about the valleys?
I was mulling this one over on the Friday before we left as I went to visit my baby's grave again. It's been a long, hard year with more sorrow than I ever knew could exist in one lifetime. I wondered what would people's responses be if this baby wasn't okay...what would MY response be? Would it still be "God is good"? Or would we be saying "Why, God?" Would we be doubting He has our best in mind because it's not the answer we want? Would we question if He really existed or if a "good" God could let something like this happen at all, never mind again?
I was ashamed at my honest feeling about this that day. I could not honestly say that I would be excited about "God's goodness" if this baby had anencephaly. I can't say I wouldn't be mad at Him. I can't say I would believe it was for my best.
So, we're on the plane and I decide to pull out my One Thousand Gifts book... you know what happened as far as the inscription in the front, but I was a few pages in when God spoke to me on my heart issue from the previous day. The author's sister had been killed when she was very young and on page 14, she says this:
"I wake and put the feet to the plank floors, and I believe the Serpent's hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: God isn't good. It's the cornerstone of his movement. That God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us.So, I was faced with the question again... What about the valleys? Do I still believe that God is good? When I go through pain that I know He could have saved me from, Is He still good?
Doubting God's goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with what He's given, we desire... I have desired...more. The fullest life.
I look across the farm fields. The rest of the garden simply isn't enough. It will never be enough. God said humanity was not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And I moan that God has ripped away what I wanted. No, what I needed. Though I can hardly whisper it, I live as though He stole what I consider rightly mine: happiest children, marriage of unending bliss, long, content, death-defying days. I look in the mirror, and if I'm fearlessly blunt - what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, what I've got - this simply isn't enough. That forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt, look at my reflection, and ask: Does God really love me?"
I mentioned the other day that I had a "talk" with God at the zoo in Naples when I saw the little girl's hat that said "Life is Good" on it with the red heart. While I waited for the kids to play, I was looking through the pictures on my camera and came to the end of the vacation ones...the next one was of me holding Rachel in the hospital the day after she died. She was extremely blue and didn't look good. I was blind to it then, but I look at the pictures now and my heart breaks. I cannot believe I went through that. I have pictures of me getting her dressed that day too and they are even harder to look at. And so, while everyone else was playing at the zoo, my heart was reliving the pain of losing my girl.
As much as I love my life, it doesn't feel "good" to me right now. I'm just still so sad, it's hard to feel much else. I wonder if that will ever change. My heart started to sink as I looked through the pictures and I questioned God about why He couldn't have done this differently. Why couldn't He have healed her? Why me? And then I saw the little girl and her hat. I have a bumper sticker that says "Life is God" (one "O") and that came to mind... except the version I heard was:
God is God.
He is good, but more than that, He is God. What goes on in my life is not about me no matter how much it feels like it is. It's all about Him. And everything that happens to me is for my good and His glory. Everything. The goodness that has been revealed to me these past 9 months is that no matter how much pain I have to endure because of the sin in this world, God continues to hold me through it.
I found myself humming this song: