Life on earth is a unique intersecting of heaven and hell. The goodness of God’s presence is visible amidst the harshness of evil and corruption. Joy coincides with heartache. Suffering and blessings intermingle. The miraculous and the mundane coexist. Grief doesn’t discriminate. Happiness shows no favoritism. Good blends with bad. Treasures emerge out of darkness.
Some individuals become depressed and passive when confronted with adversity. Not Rachel. With each new obstacle, her anger grew. By the time the attendants rolled her gurney into the room of the long-term care facility, bitterness boiled in her heart. She closed her eyes. She didn’t care to look at her latest linoleum-lined cell just yet. The nursing home odors – urine, fecal matter, disinfectant, and the beef stroganoff from supper – united in an overwhelming assault that mocked her closed eyes and welcomed her nonetheless.
An experienced nurse’s assistant with a Hoyer lift made quick work of transferring Rachel from the transport gurney to the bed. Settling Rachel into her new residence was efficiently accomplished. The aide switched off the light and bade her good night.
Reflection loves to visit against the backdrop of blackened night. The hardships of the past two years, replayed in Rachel’s mind. A skiing accident reduced her from able bodied to paralyzed from the chest down and dependent on others. Anger took root in the following months of hospitalization and rehab. Determination, fueled by the fury of unfairness, propelled her. Not taking seriously the doctor’s warnings to guard against pressure wounds gained her debridement surgery two days ago, admittance to this facility, a future flap surgery and bed rest for six months. She sobbed quietly from the injustice and heartache of it all.
“Excuse me,” a feminine voice, gravelly from misuse, interrupted from the other side of the drawn privacy curtain. “I hear you crying. My name is Amy. Want to talk? I’ve become a pretty good listener these last few months.”
“Oh…uh, hey there. Sorry to have disturbed you.”
“I don’t mind. So…what’s the problem?” Amy asked again.
“Life has been really hard lately, and my trust in God has been misplaced.”
“You are disappointed with God?”
“You betcha! He’s the reason I’m in this mess. It’s His fault I can’t walk. Why didn’t He protect me? What good does it do me to be a child of His kingdom if this is the result? I’m so angry at Him for taking away my independence and making me reliant on caregivers. It is humiliating.” Rachel’s tears started anew with this confession of her outrage and pain.
Amy hesitated – trying to pull her thoughts together and say them in a way that made sense. “Rachel, there is a verse somewhere in Isaiah. My memory is not so good right now, but it talks about God intentionally allowing us to experience suffering. He says that the ‘treasures of darkness’ in our lives bring a greater understanding of who He is as Lord. Rachel, He can bring good out of your situation and give you purpose even if your legs don’t work.”
“It would take a miracle for me to believe that God cares and that He can bring something good out of life done laying in this bed and sitting in a wheelchair.”
“Try to get some sleep, Rachel. Maybe things won’t seem so hopeless when the sun comes up.”
“I really doubt that. Good night, Amy. I’ll talk to you in the morning.”
“I’d like that,” Amy whispered as she drifted into oblivion.
The sun rose in the eastern sky, and things were not better. In fact, something was wrong, very wrong. Rachel’s morning greeting to Amy went unanswered. Silence was the response to all of Rachel’s queries. She turned on her call light. Relief came when a nurse entered the room.
“Something is wrong with Amy! Help her,” Rachel urged.
The nurse disappeared behind the curtain and emerged later to ask, “What made you think Amy was in trouble? She seems fine. None of her monitors are sounding.”
“She wouldn’t answer or talk to me.”
“Well…considering that Amy has been in a coma since her car accident seven months ago, her lack of response is not surprising,” said the nurse as she pushed back the cloth barrier to reveal a prone, motionless Amy. “Honey, it would take a miracle for Amy to talk to you, but you could talk to her while you are here. It would be good for her.”
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” -- Isaiah 45:3 (NIV)
Citizenship in the kingdom of God does not guarantee complete insulation against the cruelties and injustices of living in this fallen world. Instead, God allows the experiences of hardship to develop a deeper, more intimate knowledge of Him as Lord.
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