Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Can We Do When Things Don't Make Sense?

"I just wish I could make sense of it all!"  I know I've heard that phrase come from my lips as well as from the mouths of others.  It happened when my twin were young and we found out they were autistic.  It happened when I threw my back out on my daughter's birthday.  It happened when my son broke both of his arms when we were far away from home. It happened when my other son broke his ankle and growth plate on his birthday.  And of course, at times, it has happened with my cancer journey. 

I don't mention all these things because I want you to feel sorry for me. They were and are just big life events that didn't and sometimes still don't make sense. There have been little life events that make me feel the same way.  I felt that way when all three of my kids wanted me at the same time.  I felt that way I got a D on my first college paper.  I felt that way when our dishwasher died for the second time because someone through socks in it.  (Yes, that is a true story.)  I can look back and see how I grew, but it sure didn't make sense at the time.

Cancer has a way of seemingly never making sense.  From the time someone is diagnosed until the time they die, whether it be from the cancer or from a long life after cancer, it just doesn't make sense.  Why are some cured and others aren't?  Why do some find it right away and others don't?  Why do treatments work for some and not others?  This cancer stuff is tricky business, and it is hard to make sense of it all.

Lately I feel like I have been trying to make sense of my situation.  I hear all the time that God still has work for me to do.  I believe that because I know it doesn't have to be something big or incredible from an earthly standard.  It reminds me of one of my favorite sonnets I taught my Senior English class years ago, On His Blindness by John Milton.
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

But while I understand this for myself, at times I find it hard to understand for others.  Is standing and waiting a more important job that raising children?  Is standing and waiting more important than supporting your spouse?  Is standing and waiting more important than being a witness in the workplace?  These are all questions that I ask when I know someone who is close to death, and it just seems like it is too soon.  Survivor's guilt creeps in when things just don't make sense.

What can we do when things don't make sense?  We can try to make sense of it all ourselves.  I know that will often not happen because of what God says:

The thoughts that God has, the ways that He knows, the plans that He makes are much bigger than anything we could imagine.  So when things don't make sense, we have to trust.  Trusting doesn't always mean understanding, but it does show how much we love God.  Here's what it says in Proverbs:

While I might not always understand, I trust, I pray and I listen.  Then God gives me little glimpses of Him to remind me of what a loving God He really is.  He did that for me lately with a song that I had listened to many times, but never really heard.  It's called Dream For You.  It speaks of David who might have been dreaming of being a shepherd boy and Mary who would have been planning for Joseph to come for her on their wedding day.   Yet God tells them this:
So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you're weak and Ill carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I'll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you
 This is true for all of us.  While our lives might not make sense to us, while what going on this world might not make sense to us, and even while what's going on in a friend's life might not make sense to us, it always makes sense to God.  This is what it says later in the song:
I'm stronger than you think I am
Ill take you farther than you think you can
You sing and call me Great I Am
So take your stand
My child, if you only knew
All the plans that I have for you
Just trust me, I will follow through
You can follow Me
 Did you catch that at the beginning?  God is stronger than we think He is.  Isn't that amazing?  No matter what we encounter, God is stronger than that, and, even better, he shares that strength with us.

 I know I will still struggle with trying to make sense of things.  But through it all I know I have a loving and gracious God who already has made sense of it all.  The best part is He knew the perfect way to take care of our sin so we could get to Heaven.  If He can make sense of our worst problem, He can and will make sense of everything that comes our way.  For that, I am forever grateful.