When I was in 5th grade an illness struck my body. My mother first noticed that my legs looked a little swollen. She pressed down on it with her finger and let go. An indention stayed on my leg. She sought doctors. One morning i woke up and my entire body was swollen. I was rushed into the hospital. Rounds of doctors, nurses, and doctors in training were brought in to see my curious condition and prodded and poked my body. I had to stay overnight at the hospital for days. The doctor told my mother i would have to take steroids to treat my nephrotic syndrome (a rare chronic disease of the kidneys, that in some cases can lead to kidney failure no matter what treatment is used). She was told that the side effects of these steroids could stunt the future physical growth of her middle child. She recounts her shock and the fear when she heard this news. there was no guarantee that the steroids would cure the illness. There was no history of such illness in our families or my siblings. There was no explanation for the cause of the sudden onset of this disease in her child.
If someone was faced with these facts in their life, there could be all manner of responses and questions:
Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?
What kind of God would allow something like this to happen to a child?
Oh, well. What can you do? Life is ultimately meaningless chaos.
Could it be that there is something deeper happening than what we can see, at the present moment?
Turns out there was.
You see, for some strange reason, my mother and I can recount an unexplainable peace at the time of these events. Yes, i wasn’t bleeding out and yes, the staff at the Children’s Hospital of LA are amazing. But a lot of my mother’s friends were surprised that my mother was so relaxed in the midst of such uncertainty. She was too. And there was certainly no good reason that I would be at peace staying overnight for an indefinite amount of time in an unfamiliar place. I was a total mama’s boy (and may still be ;)) and was terrified of the dark, constantly insisting that I not be left alone in such cases. But there I was, a 10 year old boy, telling my mom she didn’t need to stay with me and that I would be alright, though there was no clear evidence that I would be.
Turns out I was admitted into the hospital on a Sunday morning. Everyone at our church found out what had happened and were praying for me. Turns out my future youth leader, a person who would later influence my life in a significant way, visited my church that Sunday. Turns out a member of the english congregation of our church worked at the hospital i was in and came by my room to visit. Turns out that, contrary to what should have happened after taking steroids for years after that Sunday morning, I am now the tallest member of my family.
I grew up in the church but, to me, God had no relevance to my life. Everything was in our control. Until it wasn’t. These events created a shift in my perspective that God is not far away but is near. He is personal. He knows me. This time in my life are my first memories of praying to God.
You see, if it wasn’t for this illness, that seemed random and meaningless, I would not have the relationship with God that I have today.
You see, Jesus is at work.
I’m not saying there won’t be hardship that you still have to go through. I’m not saying it will always be a linear path. I’m not saying you will get an explanation in this lifetime. But He is at work nonetheless and, like the parable of the growing seed, He is doing something for good. Just because we cannot see a reason for what is happening doesn’t mean there isn’t one. The Kingdom of God is a mystery revealed. We don’t know when the mystery will be revealed or to whom, but it is all only a matter of time. So let us keep holding onto His hand.