Today I read a devotion by Lysa Terkeurst and realized something about myself; something that wasn’t pretty.
I don’t always want what God provides. I want more, or something different, or I just don’t like what He chooses to provide at all.
Yahweh-Yireh (Jehovah Jireh), is the name of God meaning “God will provide.” I recalled the scenario in Genesis 22 when Isaac asked his father, Abraham, “‘Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?'”
Abraham responded, “‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.'”
I wrote about this story in a previous post, but it was not until today I realized that while I did not come down from Mount Moriah with our sons as did Abraham, Yahweh-Yireh did indeed provide, but I did not want what He chose to provide.
Of course, no one wants to experience the death of a child, so in that sense for me to state, “I did not want what God provided,” actually sounds like a reasonable, rational statement. I don’t know about you, but I am an expert at “rationalizing” my sin!
But it goes deeper than that. He did provide, in SO MANY ways when our infant son Russell died, but because I was so focused on not wanting what God provided, I failed to recognize and be thankful for what He had so abundantly given.
But in God’s sovereign plan for my life, He knew what would unfold years later…the death of our thirty -two year old son. He knew the grief work I had to do, the anger and bitterness I had to confess and deal with before I could even begin to process the death of our second son. I have always said, “I would be in a very different place spiritually today had it not been for the death of our infant son.”
In spite of the spiritual growth I experienced as a result of wrestling with God over these unnatural, out of order deaths, the mother side of me still wants to have our sons with me. I love a quote by Fred Rogers. In speaking of parenting he said, “a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person (our child/children) as long as we live.” Emotionally I am still very much tied to my children, when in reality, two of our children are no longer with us. Just this week, a friend said to me, “You will always be their mother.”
I am reminded of a story told by Reverend John Claypool in his book, “Tracks of a Fellow Struggler“, written after the death of his 10 year old daughter. He said that as a young boy, his family was gifted for a time with a washing machine. It seemed that the family who owned it could not, for whatever reason, use it at the time, and rather than have it just sit unused, they gave it to the Claypool family. Eventually, there came a time when they were able to use the washer once again, and they came and took it away. John Claypool remembered being really angry that the washer was gone. His mother wisely reminded him, “Wait a minute,son. You must remember, that washing machine never belonged to us in the first place. That we ever got to use it at all was a gift. So instead of being mad at its being taken away, let’s use this occasion to be grateful that we ever had it at all.”
And therein lies the key; thankfulness for each moment we are given with those we love, remembering they are our heavenly Father’s provisions, his gifts to us. We don’t deserve them, and have no “right” to them, because only God can breathe into a soul the breath of life; He is their Creator. They come to us with their unique personalities, a predetermined number of their days, their talents, their intellects, their physical characteristics, their strengths, and their weaknesses. We have them in our lives for a fixed amount of time in which we are to love them, nurture them, and point them to Jesus. In turn, they participate in helping us to become more Christ-like as they help us learn patience, humility, forgiveness, unconditional love, selflessness, dependence on the Lord, and generosity without expecting anything in return.
Like John Claypool’s mother, I remember those I love are not really mine at all; they are on loan to me for a season. When those gifts I expect to keep much longer are taken away, the Lord does provide. He answers the prayers of His people. He intercedes for us when we can’t pray or don’t know how to pray due to shock and confusion in our minds. He provides His peace of heart and mind in the midst of indescribable circumstances. He provides comfort, strength, and a desire to understand more of Him and His ways, even when His ways, painful as they may be, are the last thing I think I desire to understand.