When God Doesn’t Seem Fair
From Two Moms’ Hearts
Five years ago. The surgery waiting room was packed with family and close-as-family special friends. We had been told the day before my tall, dark, and handsome twenty-three-year-old son’s mass was cancer. This second surgery would reveal if the cancer had spread to Will’s lymph nodes. (It had).
As we sat together, my dearest friend and her husband motioned for us to talk privately with them in a corner of the room. I knew they understood our pain far too well, and it hurt my heart for them to be there – for they had lost their three-year-old daughter to cancer many years before. I didn’t want them reliving those painful memories, but I also knew Suzanne and her family would insist on being by our side.
Years before, our hearts had been joined together by our unique understanding of deep pain. My first husband had committed suicide while my second child fought for his life due to prematurity and chronic illness- near the time Suzanne had lost her Elizabeth to cancer. We had both run to God in our gut-wrenching loss with hard questions and found Him to still be good and still be faithful.
As I sat that evening in the surgery waiting room, the enemy had been relentlessly assaulting my mind, “Haven’t you already had enough pain in your life?” “Surely, a powerful God would spare you of this”.
As we walked to the corner in that cold, waiting room to talk with our friends, I was fighting off tears and trying to remember truth. When they said, “We need to pray”, I readily agreed.
Yet, I was not prepared for what they shared. They explained that just that day their older, spunky, full-of-life son, whom I have watched grow up and who now sat playing cards with my other son in that waiting room– Isaac, had been diagnosed with a tumor in his knee and doctors were (correctly) concerned that it was cancer as well.
Unbelievably, my closest of friends and her family were facing their second battle with cancer at the same time we were facing our first. None of it seemed fair considering our past painful roads with God.
But just like before, and we suspect forevermore, our answers were not found within our own understanding.
Nothing about our situations seemed fair to the human eye. Hadn’t we learned to cling to God in faith already? Shouldn’t He protect us from more pain? And this kind of pain—had to be the most miserable of all. Both Suzanne and I would have gladly taken the horrible cancer upon ourselves rather than watch our sons struggle with it. Yet, God didn’t offer us this choice.
Once again, He had asked us to trust Him beyond our human understanding.
We suspect, you too have wondered, “Why me?” or “Why my child? Life by nature is hard and often feels incredibly unfair. Deep down even the strongest of believers yearn occasionally for the “easy roads”. We sure have.
We haven’t ignored the reality of the situation – we’ve cried and we’ve mourned the interrupted plans for our full-of-life and full-of-potential young men. We also haven’t been oblivious to how their illnesses have affected our other children, our finances, and our own energy. We don’t deny that we would have rather not gone down this road.
As I write these words, we don’t have the “happy ending” to tell you about. Our boys face more chemo and radiation and more testing in the coming months. We can’t tell you all God will do. But we would like to tell you what He has done for our mothers hearts in the waiting and in the questioning… in the right now, before the “end of the story”.
God has helped us hold on, as He always does, by pointing us back to truth. Sometimes, that truth is close and easy to remember. Other days, we fight harder to hold on and grasp again the Word that keeps us going and hoping and knowing. We often find ourselves reminding each other of what we already know, what we learned before in our painful pasts—we find ourselves once again and always in need of holding onto His Word. Here are some truths we hold on to:
God has been faithful and, as in the past, is the One who will carry us through whatever we are facing. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength , And my refuge is in God”. Psalm 62:6-7
We won’t always feel hopeful, but the more we meditate on God’s promises and repeat them out loud the more our emotions catch up with what we know to be true. No matter how far we have come with the Lord—our strength still comes from deliberately focusing on Him. “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do and the God of peace will be with you”. Phil 4:8-9
Often, it is when God withdraws our conscious blessings that we truly learn to walk by faith and trust Him more. The result is a tested faith that is far better than our see-them-blessings ever were. We want this for ourselves, and we especially want this for our kids in all of this. “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For you have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities” Psalm 31:7 “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8
God will give us the strength we need in the moment. We have to stop worrying about the what-ifs and take one day at a time. “The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace”. Psalm 29:11 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
We find peace when we deliberately insulate ourselves with praise and truth and grab hold of our thoughts. We play the praise music – loud, we surround ourselves with others who will speak truth to us and help us refute the lies of the enemy. “As a man thinks so he is.” Proverbs 23:7 “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Cor 10:5
We repeatedly hand it all over to God – we compare our problem to God’s ability to handle it– not our own, not our sons, not the doctors, for — “Nothing is impossible for God.” Luke 1:37 (Big fat nothing!)
In our moments of faith, and even our moments of self-pity, God continues to graciously make His abiding presence known. “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, If we deny Him, He also will deny us, If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. “2 Tim 2:11-13 “How precious is Your lovingkindness , O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 36:7
Long ago, Suzanne and I surrendered our lives to Jesus. Once again, God is asking us to surrender everything, even our expectations for how life should go, to Him. Long ago, God asked us to trust Him for eternity. Now He is asking us to trust Him with our boys that we love so.
Can we trust God, even when we don’t understand? Can we trust God, even when it doesn’t seem fair? The answer has to be “yes”. All other choices lead only to more misery and pain. The God who loves us, loves our boys more than we ever will. His plans for them are exceedingly, abundantly more than even their moms could plan for them. And this same God, who drew both Suzanne and I closer to Himself through our hardest of roads, can use this hard road to do the same for our sons. Is it the way, we would have picked? Of course not. But this we know, we can trust God more than we trust ourselves for whatever comes our way… or our kids way.
And today, five years later, our two boys, those two men, are cancer free. They and our other kids will all gather for a Friendsgiving this evening. God has done so much. He’s carried them and all of us. And though life still has its ups and downs, we know our God is faithful. Always.
And for those of you who’ve read this far, I guess I’ll go ahead and say, it’s no accident these words popped up as memories on my FB page. I won’t be at the Friendsgiving today because I’ll be at Vanderbilt Hospital this morning for more tests on my heart. We are hopeful these tests will bring good news, but even if not, we know who has us, now and for eternity. There is no ROCK like our God!