The Big question on everyone’s mind when something tragic happens to a seemingly innocent person – especially when that seemingly innocent person is a child – Why? Why did this happen? Why did God allow this tragedy? Oddly enough, it is not a question I have ever really wanted an answer to; at least not in that context. There have been plenty of occasions to wonder “why” in my life, but not the way most people think. Most people wonder why the something bad happened at all. More often than not, I wonder “why” I survived it. Why am I still here?
I’m reminded of a time when I was only 3 years old; which is somewhat odd, because I really don’t remember most of my childhood. I remember bits and pieces up to a certain point, then a block of time that is blank. After the blank spot, more bits and pieces. There are other reasons in play for that, but today I want to talk about Carswell Air-force Base Hospital in 1974. I vividly remember and isolation bubble. You know, the kind they use when an infectious disease is present. At only 3 years old, I was trapped inside of this “bubble” that only certain people could enter. I was told later that I had been diagnosed with Meningococcal Meningitis. Big words, right? When you look it up today, you will find that it is the most deadly strand of meningitis in existence, especially among young children. Where death does not occur, there is often permanent neurological damage or other lasting damage. I don’t know what the doctors told my parents about my chances for recovery, but I do know as a parent, how unbelievably terrifying such a diagnosis can be. Obviously I survived, so that had to be a huge relief. I was told that I had to re-learn how to walk, but to the best of my knowledge, I absolutely no residual effects at all. Curious, isn’t it? Why?
As and adult, I don’t remember any of the pain or fear. The only things I do remember include the constant nurse attention, the ice baths (oh my goodness, that will be forever burned into my memory) and the memory that I was adamant that only my “mommy” could take my temperature there; I often wonder “why” was my life spared at that moment? The only thing I know for sure is that God has a plan and that I am a part of that plan. Jeremiah 9:11 says ” I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans to prosper you and give you hope and a future“. For me, that is really the only answer to the “why” that I need.
I have a new friend who shared with me recently her faith journey after losing her 7 year old son to cancer. As I sat listening to this mom share how God has ministered to her, and used her son’s “Heavenly Birthday” as an opportunity to share hope to others, I realized that God had spared my life during that (and many others) time for a reason. He wasn’t ready for me yet, and that comforted me. It wasn’t, however, until much later in life, that I am able to look back on that, as well as all of the countless other times my life was preserved, and wonder “why” am I still here? That continues to be my prayer and my mission to make sure that no pain or trial of mine is wasted.
Illness of a child can be quite frightening, I imagine, for those even with Christ. But for those without Christ, I imagine that fear can be overwhelming and even crippling. The one thing that is gained through a life surrendered to Christ is peace – peace that indeed surpasses all understanding through knowing who God is and who I am through Him that saves me. Like everything else in this temporal world, I am reminded through other, less life-threatening circumstances, that my children don’t belong to me – they are His first and I am only here to love and care for them until He wants them back. We never know when that will be, so I resolved many years ago – when my oldest was only 3 – to release them back to Him daily. I pray for them, and then I remember that they are His children first. That brings great comfort when they are not with me.
As for why my life was spared during such a time, I am not sure I know the answer. What I do know is that it was God’s sovereign choice to spare it and it is His desire to use my life now to honor Him and bless others. If there is one person who is blessed through my story, then that is purpose enough.
May you be blessed in this new year. May you be comforted by the Great Comforter and may you know that All Things are from Him, through Him and Of Him.
Happy New Year.