Monday, January 25, 2010

Meditations from the Middle of the Night

This is my very first blog post. I don't think anyone ever read it... I wrote it, and it tooks months to write another. Months before I learned how the blogging community works. But I loved it, so I kept it. And this weekend, my littlest got the stomach flu again, and while delirious with exhaustion in the middle of the night, I thought about what I wrote here, and thought I'd share it with you.

Regular writing schedule will continue tomorrow... or when I'm not so tired I can't see straight.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him..." Romans 8:28

Last night my youngest daughter came down with the stomach flu. I wonder sometimes why the stomach flu always hits our house at midnight: after the kids are well asleep and too groggy to help themselves, but before I have gotten any shutteye. The heavings seemed to come like contractions: every ten to fifteen minutes from midnight until after six in the morning and I spent the entire night doing laundry and laying next to her on the very cold floor and praying.

I have been studying Romans in my Bible study and this verse was fresh in my mind. I had much time to meditate on it as I prayed and I tried hard to listen to God speak in the darkness.

I prayed, of course, that God would heal my little one, that she would miraculously get well. I knew that this was unlikely, which was not to say I didn't believe God could do it. God can do anything, and a little stomach flu would be nothing to Him to cure. But I also know God doesn't always do our bidding. not because He doesn't care or because He is not actively involved in our lives, but because these things which are hard on us are of use to us, and because, for reasons I do not always understand, God allows suffering, even for those who love Him.

I have grappled with this long and hard, this idea that God will allow bad things to happen to people. Can good always come out of bad? There are so many questions to deal with, like cancer and car accidents and starvation and poverty and terrorist regimes, I won't touch. I don't have all the answers, and last night wasn't about these things. It was about a little girl who was sick, and a very tired and delirious mom who was trying to survive the night.

I used to think that "work together for good" meant God would make even the bad circumstances to become good in the long run, but I have come to realize this isn't at all what God means. Sometimes He will do this, and things that are awful can give birth to great happenings. Joni Erickson Tada is a great example of this. A woman who became paralyzed in a terrible diving accident, who has lost the use of her legs and arms, has found great power in her new life. She has become a world-renowned artist, drawing with a pen in her teeth (surely a talent she would not have found without the accident!), and writing inspirational books, giving lectures that give hope and open the doors of faith to countless people, singing and inspiring. Her life is so much more powerful because of her paralysis. I might argue, though, that the best result of this accident is what God has done IN Joni, and not just through her. The good Paul mentions in this verse is the good God is doing IN us. It does not mean God will change our circumstances to good, but that He will use the circumstances we find ourselves in to mold us more like Him. Which is why, in the dark of the night, holding the little body of my sick child, I prayed that God would take away her sickness, but if He chose not to, that my daughter and I might have strength to get through the night, and that God would grant me the gentleness and patience and love needed but so scarce when I am tired. And that prayer He most definitely answered.


  1. Incredible how you used Joni's accident and life as an example. I read one of her books when I was about twelve and really thought WOW THIS WOMAN IS COOL! :)

    Great post, hope the little one feels better! We've *hopefully* gotten over it now.

  2. Beautiful first post. Isn't it amazing how much we learn and share from the community of bloggers, finding inspiration and support among all? Hope your daughter's feeling better (and you too!)

  3. Great post. We just talked about this very thing in church on Sunday.

  4. Thank you all. Last night the illness moved to another, and so I'm exhausted again today, and frustrated that nothing is getting done. It was 3:15 before I even turned on the computer.

    kristi - I love Joni! I wrote her when my book was published to ask if she would read it and give a blurb for the cover since she is so active in the stem cell debate. She wrote the most lovely, thoughtful, warm response.

  5. Great post Heidi. Much food for thought.

    We've only had one night like that so far, but those are the worst. It was bad for my wife because my daughter and I had it at the same time (this was before the baby was born).


  6. That's a great post, and having almost finished your book, I can see where some of the inspiration may have come from!

  7. I love the idea of looking back (and I'm sorry the stomach flu is what triggered the reflection). This is a beautiful first post. Thank you for re-sharing.