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.
Joanne Bodner says
Thank you, Lori, for your words and inspiration. You are in my prayers daily. I pray not just for your strength and acceptance, but for healing. I do not think it is wrong or weak to ask for–indeed beg for–healing, any more than I think it is a lack of faith if our prayers for healing are not answered. We know there is an answer–and that some day, in God’s time, it will be revealed. Yet, it is the human spirit to want to live, to experience everything this wonderful life has to give. So, yes, I plead for healing–for you, myself, and all those who suffer. Bless you, and thank you.
Your unfairness theme today really hit me. Throughout my life, one of my main entertainments, joys, and comforts has been music. Now I have a syndrome in which sound sensitivity makes it so I can barely stand to hear the radio or even conversations (or the organ in church!) let alone a live performance. Well, it’s probably no surprise that God has not explained Himself to me–as to why He would take away a main joy in life. But, certainly He has made me think deeply about what the loss of this treasure means. It can only mean that God’s choir and symphony will not only be eternal, but will require no expensive tickets!
Bless you, Lori, and thank you!
P.S. I sort of believe in karma–not as a punishment, but as a “learning opportunity.” Surely the lady who took your daughter’s phone will have this “learning opportunity” soon when it comes back to her. I ask for blessings for her too!
Lori Ann Wood says
Thank you, Joanne.
Donette walton says
Lori, I have so much on my heart where you are concerned, but unlike you I just can’t write and express myself. Just know that I am caring, loving and praying for you on this difficult journey.
Lori Ann Wood says
This means so much to me, Donette. Thank you for reading along, and for all your prayers and support.