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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

When Everything Falls Apart

Life rarely goes according to plan.

Six years ago, my daughter-in-law Bethany went into early labor. As we waited in the hospital lobby, we were concerned. The baby was in distress. He would be born 10 weeks early. Bethany had not had an easy pregnancy. I fervently prayed for her and the baby’s well-being and resolutely determined to trust in a good God.

When my son Daniel finally arrived in the waiting room, he was crying. Bethany was fine, but the baby was not. There were severe complications. He had to be resuscitated three times. His abdomen was filled with fluid. He could not breathe on his own. He was severely anemic. His features indicated Down Syndrome. They didn’t think he would live through the night.

The next morning, I awoke to the cheerful voices of Joseph’s two big brothers, as they charged out of our guest room to start the day. I lay in bed, knowing I needed to get them breakfast, yet feeling that the mere act of getting out of bed was impossible. I wearily asked God: “How could you? Why would you bring this kind of trouble into this sweet family?”

God immediately impressed His answer right into my heart. “Am I good? You need to decide what you believe about me.”

I knew the danger in forming any ideas about Him through looking at the situation. I could easily be misled by my limited, emotionally tainted perceptions. What we know about God cannot come from circumstances. Rather, we should define our circumstances based on what we know to be true about God.

So after breakfast, I sat down to think through what I knew about the character of God from His Word. He is holy. His integrity is beyond reproach. He is love. Compassion marks His dealings with us. He freely and continually gives us grace.

God’s actions are never spontaneous, erratic, or arbitrary. They are outflows of His perfect nature. Whatever conclusion I came to about God’s dealings with us in this crisis, it had to be within the parameters of His unchanging character. I needed to interpret our circumstances in light of the Circumstance Maker.

Whether or not I understood what was happening, I could trust Him, because He is good. As Paul wrote the Ephesians,

God moves and works “according to the kind intention of His will.” (Ephesians 1:5, NASB) 

I chose that morning to rely on Him. No matter what lay ahead.

As I slowly rose to my feet, it was with a deepening sense of dependency on the God who kindly directs my path. I would cling to Him like a life preserver through the fog of grief and uncertainty. And I would be better for it.

Saying yes to God gives us an opportunity to go deeper with Him as He reveals Himself in new ways. It opens a conduit for His blessing. When our hearts are soft, willing to listen, eager to obey, we are moldable. We have cultivated the soil. We are ready for transformation.

Over the next 10 weeks in Children’s Hospital’s Newborn Critical Care Unit, Joseph slowly improved. Eventually, he went home to start life with his family. God has great plans for this child. Even at six years old, his little life has already had an impact on an enormous number of caring friends and strangers. We are blessed with every smile and new accomplishment. God continues to make Himself known through it all, as we love and trust Him for Joseph’s life.

He is good.

The Lord, the Lord God, [is] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth.” Exodus 34:6, NASB

Copyright © 2020 Julie Zine Coleman, used with permission.

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