Where Is God When It Hurts?

During the final months of my dad’s life, I learned that God takes care of you even when you think he isn’t taking care of you.

There were many prayers for my dad, and myself, that went unanswered. Prayers for his healing, prayers for his ease of mind, prayers for an easier situation for my dad, as well as for my mom and my sister and I. Those prayers seemed to go unanswered.

But all around the situation seemed to be evidence of God’s care for us in profound ways.

One such incident occurred the day I returned to work after a few days of helping my Mom care for my dad. These few days were some of the lowest points in the slow awful process of his cancer. He had become non-communicative and his attempts to walk and conduct just the most routine of movements had become almost impossible. We were forced to start looking at options for care outside of our own capabilities.

I was beat down and frustrated and helpless. Still, I had to work and fulfill my duties of my job.

A computer in our area was not logging on correctly and the usual fix was to climb underneath the computer station and start to mess with the chords. As I was doing this, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I saw that it was a torn out piece of paper with some words on it. I figured it was just trash and would quickly discard it. But, I did take a look at the writing and noticed these words:

“Cast all of your worries on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Who knows how long that piece of paper had sat there, maybe weeks or maybe even months before I found it. And for me to find it at one of the lowest points of one of the lowest moments of my life was no mere coincidence or good luck. God was providing for me, was encouraging me, and was reassuring me of his great care.

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Wikimedia Commons

When my dad died, my wife was out of the country on a mission trip. The care and love that she received from the local believers in Zambia demonstrated that God’s love and provision is available half way around the world. The day he died, 22 girls at a Girl’s Retreat, which my wife help lead, sought and received Christ’s gift of salvation.

In the absence of my wife and her present support, three of the staff members of our church drove 170 miles to attend the funeral. Also, three colleagues at work made a similar trip to demonstrate concern, compassion, and support. Two of my longest and dearest friendships were represented and found me before the funeral to bring me encouragement and comfort.

I could go on and on in demonstrating how God was present and moving during this time.

Sometimes, as we look for God’s big miracles we miss all of the thousands of little miracles all around us. My dad was lost to us too early and under great strain and suffering. There is no denying the awfulness of his disease and what it did to his mind and body. I don’t understand why it was necessary for him to go through all of that and why we had to watch it happen. But in spite of that grim reality, I saw God work. I felt God’s comfort. I experienced God’s provision. I tasted his goodness. God was with me and with my family and with my wife. He never abandoned us.

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

—Frederick Buechner, Godric, 96.

 

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What My Dad Taught Me (And Is Still Teaching Me) About Growing Up

My dad has had cancer since last October. He is suffering through treatments right now and hasn’t had too many good days lately.

I love my Dad for many reasons but largely because of all that he has taught me about life and life with God.

I decided to share with you some of the things he has taught me:

Love much, laugh often, and pray each step of the way: This statement, in various forms, has been spread around for years. I don’t know where my dad heard it but it has become one of his favorite prayers for most of my life. This pretty much sums up his philosophy of life. Love those around you, show care for them, take an interest in others. Enjoy the simplicity of a good laugh, a small joke, a uniquely peculiar moment. And pray as much as possible. My dad is not the most theologically sophisticated guy but I know that he faithfully reads his Bible, reads short devotionals, and prays.

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Being critical of people is not necessary: I remember as a kid feeling kind of ashamed at the dinner table when I had just spent the last few minutes bashing someone. My parents don’t make this kind of talk a habit. I am sure they had their own conversations about people but being critical was always unbecoming. They aren’t oblivious to the realities of people and life, they just don’t think that criticizing others is going to accomplish much other than making the person talking look unattractive and negative.

Too many people’s default position is to complain about others. What a valuable lesson it was to learn that there may be a better way. A way that honored people, that was conscious of my own failings, and was willing to be patient with people.

The Serenity Prayer: Another one of his go to prayers. You have heard this prayer before, “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the power to know the difference.”

It is pretty obvious why this prayer is one of the most highly used written prayers in history. For my dad, he has been willing over the years to let each aspect of this prayer be a motto for life, not just one that benefited him in the moment. His willingness to grow and let God move in him is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you reach the age where you are expected to be set in your ways. God is still working in my dad, I have seen it through his fight with cancer and throughout my life. That inspires me to keep working on my own spiritual development and keep growing.

I hope you, the reader, have as good a role model for Christian living as I have had with my dad.