“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. The rain and the snow come down from heaven and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:9-11
From the safety and comfort of my home, I watch in disbelief as events unfold across the nation, around the world, and in my personal life. While in the midst of a global pandemic when citizens are being asked to continue to shelter in place, rioters have taken to the streets among peaceful protesters in reaction to the murder of George Floyd resulting in chaos and vandalism that catapulted the United States for the first time onto the list of most dangerous countries for journalists. Fear and hate seem to have the upper hand at this moment in history, appearing in sharp contrast to the support and compassion that dominated the news stories just a week ago as we rallied together as a nation to thank our essential workers. The news on my doorstep is bleak as well. I continue to pray for the reunion of precious family members who have been separated for months in countries on opposite sides of the globe and for friends who have lost their jobs or are battling illness. But the news that hit me the hardest this week was the phone call informing me that my 89-year-old father has now tested positive for the coronavirus.
I guess it would be acceptable to scream at God and question his motives, but then I remember that He is God and I am not. I know from Scripture that He can take a bad situation and use it for His glory and our good. Will He do that though? I don’t know. But I trust his sovereignty and recognize his ways are not my ways.
In the book of John, Jesus wraps a towel around his waist, pours water into a basin, and begins washing and drying twelve sets of dirty feet. Simon Peter is the only one to protest, to which Jesus replies, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7
In other words, hindsight is 20/20—if we are lucky enough to see it.
Back in the spring of 1970 when I was just a child myself, my six-year-old brother lost his three-year battle to cancer. Because my family had prayed the rosary so often and I had the calluses on my knees to prove it, I was sure my brother would be healed. His death rocked my world and left me struggling with questions I didn’t dare ask. Had I done something to instigate Jeffrey’s death? Were my parents to blame? Would our house ever feel happy again? When would I have to go back to school? What should I tell my classmates? Did we have to say the rosary anymore?
I’m sure the disciples had questions of their own when their beloved friend and teacher was crucified and laid in a tomb. Perhaps their questions were not so different from mine. After all, grief is a universal language.
Regaining your footing is tough when your world has been turned upside down and backwards. But remember, God is right there with you, sometimes carrying you in your weakness. And the best part is, He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) We worry because we don’t know what’s around the next corner, but God knows. He has the big picture.
Earlier I was deadheading my peonies (cutting off the dead blossoms) when my hand almost got caught in one of the largest spider webs I’ve seen in years. I had to adjust my eyes to take in the minuscule threads that were barely visible against the green leaves. In my limited capacity as a human, I wasn’t able to focus on both the leaves and the web. What is invisible to us is clear as glass to Him. We may see the world as lost or hopeless, but we don’t have the complete picture. Make no mistake—God has a plan, and He will carry it out for His glory and our good.
In my early thirties I worked as a radio news anchor in Buffalo, New York under my maiden name of Layer. I had the privilege of interviewing a research doctor from Children’s Hospital on a breakthrough his team had made on Wilms Tumor—the cancer that had taken my brother’s life. When the interview ended, the doctor asked if I was related to a Wilms tumor fatality named Jeffery. “Yes!” I said, “How did you know?”
He answered, “You asked excellent questions and your brother’s files were full of test results that helped my team make this breakthrough. If your mother is still alive, please thank her for signing the release papers that allowed Jeffery’s doctors to conduct experimental trials. Her sacrifice will help save thousands of children’s lives.”
I don’t know how this pandemic will end, whether the riots will improve race relations, or how Dad will weather the coronavirus, but I do know that God is on His throne and has a different view than we do. It’s our job to trust and persevere.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS "You Are God Alone" by Phillips, Craig & Dean
Lyrics: “In the good times and bad, You are on Your throne. You are God alone.”