A man at our church lost his wife to pancreatic cancer two years ago. It was a very short, difficult illness and her passing left many of us in shock. She was an amazing wife, and mother, and grandmother. Last week, this faithful man had a fire in a storage building and lost nearly all of his family photos. My heart broke again and I had to ask, “Why?” Was it too much to ask that he have photos to remember this precious woman, taken far too soon?
Sometimes events and outcomes just don’t make sense. It can be difficult to figure what God must be thinking or planning or doing in a situation. I can almost feel an unsettled twinge when it seems as if no one is at the helm. That no one is watching out for us.
Recently, we took an overseas trip with our youngest daughter. She had planned our entire trip and scheduled everything for us. She must have spent weeks organizing the details. One day on the trip, I realized about an hour after getting out of an Uber that I had left my purse (with our passports) in the car. Amazingly, the honest driver had contacted the police and arranged to return my purse, with everything intact. We were thankful even as we made our way to the recommended spot to view the sunset from the top of a hill overlooking Paris. We settled in against a wall and waited as a crowd gathered around us on the steps of a beautiful church. As my daughter passed a woman on the way to her seat, she bought the woman a subway ticket so she could get home. Moments later, my daughter realized her phone was missing. She tried to call it and the person on the other end only laughed. Her phone was gone for good.
Why did I get my purse back and my daughter not get her phone? Financially, it would have made more sense. I could certainly absorb the replacement cost easier than she could. Based on how hard she had worked to prepare this trip for us, it seemed unfair. My loss was due to my own carelessness; hers was not. And what about her giving heart, buying a subway ticket for a stranger?
I am a logical person and I so want things to make sense, for there to be order in the world, so I can expect good people will be treated in ways I see as good. The ugly fact is that this world is often harsh and unfair and we get glimpses of this in various ways throughout our lives. Not as punishment or in exact consequences to our actions. But instead to remind us that this world is not our home.
I have lamented throughout my illness that my disease is not fair. I took care of myself. I had no family history. I had no risk factors. Heart failure was not supposed to be on my agenda. Some days that sense of injustice can almost suffocate me. But deep down, I have had this knowing that there must be more to it.
I have always loved the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. One line that has meant so much to me over the last couple of years: What if our greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if the unfairness is precisely the twinge we need to recognize our true home?
We were made for more than this. So our good God, in His profound wisdom, wired eternity into our hearts. He planted a seed of forever in each of us. Part of that requires us to measure this imperfect, fallen world against what we so long for. And to conclude that we cannot make or expect perfection this side of heaven. We need God’s presence for that. We need eternity with Him for our hearts to be complete. So those unsettled twinges, those reminders of unfairness, just may be God tapping us on the shoulder and whispering, “Something much better is coming.” I pray I can learn to recognize those taps.