I walk up to the register with four sympathy cards in hand, each meant for a different person and loss. The cashier asks me what all good cashiers ask—did you find everything you were looking for? I tell him yes (does anyone answer otherwise?) as he totals the purchase. He hands me the receipt and plastic bag, finishing his routine with a warm "come again." I know I will because bookstores are my oxygen, but I hope for a return under other circumstances. Not one involving death.
But pain is pummeling into those I love. All at once? I don't get it. I speak with a friend this morning who has experienced another tragedy. These are fragile times. Treading in pools of sorrow suddenly turns familiar, and it hurts.
There's another problem with my health, so before bed, I scour Google's results for answers. The quest for healing resembles an addiction and before you know it, it's 5 am and I'm exhausted from riding on fear through the night. I close both the laptop and my eyes at last, unable to find what I was searching for.
Counselors say there are multiple stages of grief, with denial being one of the first. Each addition to my list of symptoms is a loss. I make good movement emotionally, then I'll notice another ailment and end up in denial all over again. I have a disease (several, actually), and sometimes loss will come quicker than progress. Strength and hair and memory are not promises. Can I not accept this reality in bulk? Will I have to unravel with every change?
I've been asking God lots of questions. Partly because I'm curious, mainly because I'm disappointed. The last 14 months in my life have appeared small and inconsequential. I used to be useful—what happened? Why is He keeping this disease in my body? Doesn't He know what I would do if I was healthy and whole?
There are families hurting, and I want to help. I hope to serve children who have special needs. I hope to work hard, giving money and resources away. I hope to move to Japan and help plant churches. I hope to do this and that for a greater good, but I fear I can't unless I'm well.
So if I'm never healed, then what?
The splinters in my theology and identity are being exposed. I'm in this new place, a low place, where I see sprawled before me my failed attempts and crumbled relationships and unbiblical perspectives and storage of pride, and, and—I'm not at all who I thought I was. It's terrifying to be made aware of my shortcomings like this. I made myself the savior of the narrative and now I'm here, pressed to the ground and empty-handed.
I'm shocked by how little I've trusted Jesus, the God-man who knows suffering best. How does He respond to the tragedies we face?
I have an afternoon to myself, and I'm tempted to numb with Netflix but I cry out to God instead. I wonder why He would still want to love me and love others through me. I've lost sight so many times and I know so little. In my foolishness, doubt, brokenness, and disease, why does God remain? I don't know what He's shaping through the losses in my life or those around me, but this is my prayer:
God, may You be all we ever go searching for.
And let us weep with those who weep today, just as You do for us.