During Adelyn’s suffering with torticollis earlier this week, I prayed with her and asked the Lord to bring relief and healing to her neck. While talking to Carolyn on the phone during one of her atrocious spasms today, I heard Adelyn scrying (scream-crying) in the background, “Why is God doing this to me???!!!!”
It broke my heart.
The immensity of what I’d done by praying with her and for her struck me as I hung up the phone. In a moment of extreme suffering and pain, Adelyn was learning a hard lesson. God does not always relieve our suffering at the moment we want Him to. Sometimes the relief does not come at all.
I was also learning a hard lesson. When you pray hard and fervently with someone for their suffering, you are making them aware of your own faith and desires in the matter. When God does not answer quickly… What does that mean?
What it meant for Adelyn was that God had left her to suffer. Her 5th grade brain (and my 41 year-old gray matter) have a very difficult time processing that. Some would nod their heads and say that is why they doubt God’s goodness or even His existence.
Our reasoning goes something like this… The innocent suffer atrociously. The God of the Bible is supposed to be all-powerful and all-loving. If He permits such suffering and evil, He cannot be all-powerful, or He is not all-loving. Or as some conclude, He is… not.
On Thursday morning, as Adelyn began to have a better day, Blacksburg learned of a double homicide involving two Virginia Tech students. One campus… 35 deaths in the past two years. 32 of those occurred in one day that is branded in Hokie memory forever – April 16, 2007. On a national level, Americans speak of 9/11. As a Hokie nation, we’ve heard 4/16 spoken of in reverent terms. It altered the corporate consciousness of a campus… and a community.
Again, it begs the question of God… why?
I attended a campus worship service hosted by Cru on Thursday night with almost 1000 students. Many were dramatically affected by the deaths. Others were numb or disconnected. Yet the large gathering ended the evening in heart-felt worship.
One of the songs they sang was “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” It’s a rather profound chorus:
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Blessed be Your Name
All these reflections have been bouncing in my brain since Adelyn’s agonizing cry Wednesday.
As a father, I did for Adelyn on Wednesday what I did for her on Tuesday. I prayed. It was the same thing I did last night in a room packed full of confused collegians.
I read Psalm 56.3 this morning and cling to it as a life preserver:
“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
I just will.
My best advice? Don’t give up looking for answers, even if they are hidden at present. Those who continue seeking with an honest heart will find. Your discovery may not be “the” answer you started looking for; rather, you may uncover greater treasure in your quest – wisdom.
For Adelyn, she was eating Ramen Noodles Friday night with a sore neck. There were no more agonizing screams, but their memory and her experience will continue to teach my family some hard lessons.