She woke me in the dead of night and spoke the words a mother dreads.
“Mama, I don’t feel good.”
“What’s wrong?” I croaked, throwing back the covers to slide my feet to the floor. I walked my nine-year-old back to her room and listened as she told me how her head throbbed, and she was hot and then cold and then hot again.
Eleven years of mothering told me she had a fever even before I touched her. I got a cool cloth for her head and gave her some Tylenol. Feeling tired and weary, I knelt down by her bed, smoothed her covers and rubbed her back.
She rolled back to search for my eyes in the dark. “Mama?” My daughter asked. “Last night I prayed and asked God to help me have a good night and a good day tomorrow. Why do you think He would let me get sick when I prayed that?”
I took a deep breath, throwing up quick prayers asking God to give me the wisdom to answer this one. I looked at her in the dark, the seconds ticked on the clock echoing in the room.
“Faith, just because we ask God for something doesn’t mean He automatically grants it…” I began to explain something to my daughter that sometimes I don’t even understand myself.
My nine-year-old hit on a question probably uttered by hundreds of thousands of people daily – WHY?
Why, Lord, would you let a crazy man with guns in a school full of innocent children? Why didn’t you let a cop pull him over for speeding before he got there?
Why didn’t you distract the Boston bombers as they were creating explosive devices so the bombs wouldn’t detonate? Lives would still be intact. Families unbroken.
Why would you allow a girl at the beginning of her journey, just three years into marriage, have incurable cancer? Why, Lord?
Why would you allow a child to be taken and kept for ten years? Why didn’t you draw the neighbor’s attention to the house sooner?
Friends, I don’t claim to have the answers to all of life’s questions. I just don’t. I told my daughter the same.
I did explain how God gave us free will to choose our lives, and sometimes we choose to touch the germs that make us sick. Adam and Eve chose so long ago to bring sin into the world and because of that sin, we have sickness and cancer and bad people.
God didn’t want it. He doesn’t relish in allowing it to happen. It hurts Him. It brings Him great grief. But ultimately, He knows that in this fallen world, He can use those things – those horrible, sometimes unspoken things – to draw others to Him.
Because when they find Him, they can have eternal life in Heaven. Life without cancer, without bombers, without hunger, without sex trafficking, without heartbreak, without loneliness, without abandonment, without addiction and without death.
And although, I don’t understand why or how God chooses to intervene sometimes with miracles and sometimes not, I’m okay with that. As hard as it is to say, I accept it, because God knows more than me.
He knows the big picture. He knows when a death and “perfect healing” in Heaven brings more people to know Him than a miracle on earth.
So I choose to have faith. Faith doesn’t mean you understand everything because you’ve worked it all out in your head and it makes sense. Faith believes without completely seeing. It’s trusting.
And while I don’t always know the answers to the why, I do know God. And I trust Him. I know He is always with me.
I explained to Faith, “Even though I can’t automatically make you better, I am here to be with you. Does my presence make you feel a little better?”
She nodded her fevered head.
It’s the same way with God. While He may not grant your request the way you wish, He will be with you. He won’t leave your side.
Lord, I thank you for a daughter who prays to you and thinks about the hard questions. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to her about a real situation in a way she can understand. God, I know there are people reading these words who are hurting with situations I cannot even begin to understand. But You do. I ask that You bring healing and peace to their lives. Lord, I pray You wrap your loving arms around them and bring comfort. Let them know You will never leave them or forsake them. Amen.