Day 12: help for the snotty and crappy seasons

Today I took the kiddos in to the Doctor’s office for their flu vaccines. I remember the Doctor being a place of high anxiety as a kid. In fact, an abacus and the water ring toss games still give me the chills. Luckily enough for us, my mother-in-law works at our pediatric office. Going to the Doctor is a little like a family reunion each time, if family reunions had shots and urine samples. When I told the kids we were going to the Doctor a cheer broke out that rivaled Peter’s jubilee at hearing that Kanye West had decided to take a break from fashion designing and had released a new CD. So off we went, braving (and eating) the first snow of the season to get bouncy balls, stickers, dazzlingly beautiful jewelry from the token machine, sweet kisses from Omi, ooohs and ahhhs from all her co-workers and of course, a flu vaccine.

That got me thinking about medicine. (Quick disclaimer: I am not opening up any debate on medication, vaccines etc. Please keep your opinions on whether or not to medicate and whether or not to vaccinate, however wise or well-meaning  said opinions may be, to yourself. If we disagree-that’s awesome. We can have different opinions, agree to disagree and still both raise stellar kids.) My 85 year old grandma is currently in the hospital with pneumonia and thanks to medication she is doing very well. I am finally almost fully recovered from my cold and cold medicine induced stupor. We are entering what I have come to refer to as snot season, which means more prescriptions than Kanye has rhymes.

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(cell phone picture sent to Nana Betty telling her to feel better.)
I am thankful for medicine,for the most part. I am thankful for a remedy for what ails us. I am thankful that because of antibiotics and IV fluids my grandma is starting to feel like herself again. I am thankful that I can prevent my kids from getting dangerous illnesses. But all this thinking about medicine and what ails us got me thinking a little bit about the things that cause of pain and “sickness” that medicine doesn’t really touch. We all experience this. There is doubt, and grief, and loneliness, and resentment, and hurt, and struggle, and pain in this life that no amount of medicine can cure. As annoying as a cold may be, and as long as it may drag on, the pain inside us or the struggles we face in a fallen world endure much longer and hurt much deeper.

When I think of all the crap that happens in this life-the things we don’t understand, the things that are out of our control, the things we flat out don’t like-it some times leaves me reeling. There are so many things I would do differently if I were God. How can I believe in a God who would allow __________ to happen? These thoughts used to cripple me. I used to wrestle with them a lot. My doubts and questions went unanswered and I allowed seeds of resentment to take root in the soil of my pain and anguish. I grew resentful of God and thought I had reason. It was a dark place to be.

Since then I have grown. I have learned. I still don’t have many more answers than I did in those years. I still don’t know exactly why crappy stuff has to happen. But I have learned a few things. First, I have to tell myself it is not all about me. God loves me-yes (Romans 8:31-39). God carries me close to His heart-yes (Isaiah 40:11). God cares about the tiniest details of my life-yes (Matthew 6:25-34). God promises to work all things together for my ultimate good-yes (Romans 8:28-29). But His purposes aren’t all about me and my life (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is at work to accomplish much greater things, in me, and in the world as a whole. Some times I am not going to like it or understand it. I can chose to be resentful. That option is always available to me. But I have chosen to pursue my other options, mostly because I saw that resentfulness got me nowhere I wanted to go. I used to think that I had to have answers to all my questions and that things had to make sense before I could trust God. I wanted to see His hand on everything, even if I didn’t like the circumstances. If I could see His hand than He must be real, and good, and worthy of my praise and trust. Oh how backwards I had it.

There are lots of things I don’t understand, most things actually. And there are lots of things about this life I just flat out don’t like. I tell God that. He can handle my real feelings. But after I am done telling God all about how I think and feel, I don’t stop there. I don’t allow my immaturity and my human limitations to dictate what I believe is true. Just because I don’t see or feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I can chose to dwell on my doubts. I can try to make sense of things I may never understand this side of heaven. I can allow that to be a stumbling block for me. Or, or, I can allow all that I don’t understand or appreciate to be a comfort to me. I don’t have to understand it all. I never will. So I can stop struggling to “get it” or solve it. I can find comfort in knowing that someone greater and wiser and more loving and selfless than myself is at work here. I can chose to rest on the promises of God. I can chose to believe that He sees things in light of eternity. I must chose to trust God. I must chose to praise God. Whether or not I am totally feeling what He is dishing out in any stage of my life, or in the lives of anyone else, I know He “gets it”. I take comfort in that. This is something I struggled so hard with in the past. It caused me countless hours of pain upon pain. It took one thing after another going “wrong” in my life for me to throw up my tired arms and lift my tear filled eyes to heaven and say “ God I am allowing all this pain to drive me to you, not further away. I can still have questions but I will not give in to doubt. I know you see and know it all. I know you are good. I know you are love. That makes you worthy of my trust and worthy of my praise. So God, I chose to trust you now. I chose to praise you now. Even if I can’t bring myself to praise you for what you are doing in this specific instance quite yet, I will praise you for who you are.”

I have been to a few counselors in my day ,but the most wonderful counselor of all-my God. Today, I am thankful for a God who not only can handle all the yuck inside me and all the messy emotions I feel, but He wants to hear it. He wants to help me work through it. Plenty of times over the years I have gotten pretty sick of myself. I tend to get stuck in the same rut time and time again. I know those who know me well probably get a little sick of me too. But God doesn’t. That is pretty sweet. I am so thankful for that. I am thankful for the Wonderful Counselor. When it comes to what ails our heart and what wounds the world has to dish out, it is never as easy as just taking some medicine or getting a vaccine to protect us from all the crap. Some times in the midst of it all we wish it was, right? I know where to turn when nothing the world has to offer can cure me. It definitely is not quick and easy cure, but God tenderly, masterfully works to sew up my insides. He performs his surgery removing the yuck and filling it with grace and wisdom. I am thankful that the pain has a purpose, even if I don’t always see it, even if I never will see it. I am thankful for a God who binds up our wounds (psalm 147:3) and who turns his ear to hear our prayers (psalm 116:2). And I am thankful for a God who provided the most crucial remedy of all: the remedy for my sin, when He sent His son to die for me.

Yes, today I am thankful for medicine and vaccines made on this earth. And I am eternally thankful for remedies designed in heaven. Whether we are needing help through snot season, or through another more challenging season of life altogether, I am thankful that God gives us what we need.

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