God is Still Here

As I type this, I’m sitting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the local hospital. The sounds, unique to this level of care, include beeps, whooshes, and dings. The walls are thin, so the cries of a young child in another room and the alarms next door filter into the space my daughter is in. It is a strange place, the Peds ICU. Day and night run together. And while the nurses are calm, you know the only reason you’re in a place like this is because something is really, really wrong.

We’ve been on an incredible journey, facing things that have been really, really wrong. Hearing words no parent ever wants to hear. Words like “tumor.” And “neurosurgeon.” And “oncology.” We don’t know if our precious daughter will need chemo. Or any other kind of treatment. But that’s just it. We don’t know. All these words are scary, overwhelming, shocking.

The thing that has been absolutely incredible through this journey, and we’re still in the midst of it, is that we’ve seen God’s hand so clearly. Not leading us where we want to go (no parent ever wants their child to need brain surgery or to hear their child has a tumor), but leading us gently, all the same. It doesn’t make sense, that a good God would take children He loves through dark valleys. Especially children who are seeking to serve Him. It doesn’t make sense. At least not in the way we look at things in our culture. But, what I have learned through many journeys through many dark valleys is, God never leaves. God’s goodness doesn’t depend on my circumstances. It depends on His unchanging character.

For some reason, we equate God’s goodness, and God’s provision, with comfort and ease. At least in developed Western nations. And we think that if life isn’t good, or comfortable, or smooth, then something is wrong. Yet, what do we see in Scripture? Even Jesus suffered. Yes, He suffered for us. But He suffered. In spite of a heartfelt request that He be spared. David suffered; we can read all about it in the psalms where he poured his lament out to the Lord.

Abraham suffered. Paul suffered. Peter suffered. John suffered. Every person listed in Hebrews 11 is listed because of their faith in the midst of suffering. Perhaps because suffering is so foreign to us... or perhaps because we’ve tried to mitigate it to such a degree, we’ve lost sight of the gift that God being with us in suffering can be.

Truly, the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about God’s character have been in times of suffering. I didn’t really know who El Roi until I needed to be seen. I didn’t know really Jehovah Jirah until I needed His provision. I have never been so desperate for Jehovah Rapha as I am right now. And unlike Buddhism, or Shintoism, or Islam, or any other faith practice outside of Christianity, the God of the Bible doesn’t leave.

Whatever you are facing right now, I guarantee, God hasn’t left you alone. He is with you, just like He has been with me and my family through this whole ordeal. And He is good. He is so very, very good. Not because life feels good; right now, it definitely does not. Even so, God is still good. He can be trusted, especially when life doesn’t feel good.

If you are questioning God’s character in the midst of suffering, a book that I have found to be truly life- changing is When Life and Beliefs Collide, by Carolyn Custis James. It is because of that book, and the lessons I learned from it, that I know God is good, in spite of the horrendous situation we are in.

A powerful principle that has given me strength in this long dark hallway between where God closes doors and opens windows is “The Faith Process.” It is, in essence, choosing to live in light of the truth of God’s Word regardless of circumstances, emotions, or cultural trends, and asking “How am I going live in light of this truth?” It is not my idea. Credit goes to Pastor Ron Proctor in Texas. This particular illustration, however, is all mine. After the life-shattering conversation with our doctor, seeing the words “mass” on my daughter’s MRI report, I needed something. God met me with a rather unusual passage... Psalm 139:15, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (ESV). Knowing God knit my daughter together, and that she was not hidden from Him then, it was a promise that she was not hidden from Him know, nor was the brain tumor, even though we were completely taken by surprise.

Another verse that I’ve been holding on to might seem counter intuitive, but it is a verse I’m choosing live in light of. Psalm 4:8 says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” (NLT). Which meant in the waiting room, as our daughter had brain surgery, I slept. I was exhausted. Hospitals and critically ill children don’t usually afford mamas much sleep. But I slept for another reason. I slept because I knew I could rest, and trust God with my daughter. Not because I knew the outcome. But because I knew Who controlled the outcome, and it wasn’t me. I couldn’t do anything during the surgery. So as a conscious act of faith, I took my pillow and blanket to the waiting room. And I slept. And when I woke up, the doctor was explaining that surgery had gone very smoothly. Even if I hadn’t slept the outcome would have been the same. But my experience during those long hours would have been very different. And that is the hope I want to share with you; God is good. He loves you. And He isn’t going to leave. No matter what. What you really need to decide is, what will you do? Will you rest? Or will you worry. Not because worrying will change anything, but because it will determine how you navigate your journey.

God is good. He just is. Not because life feels good, or because things go smoothly. But because of God’s character. His goodness is part of the essence of Who He is. I hope that you will learn that like we have through this journey.

Marchauna has shared almost twenty-four years of (mostly) wedded bliss with Chris. Together they are the parents of eight precious children, six girls and two boys. And when not learning the inner workings of Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, they invest their time and energy in helping connect people in Spokane to life-changing relationships through Cru Spokane. If you want to follow their daughter’s journey, search “Makayla Rodgers” on CaringBridge.org. And if you are interested in more information about either When Life and Beliefs Collide or The Faith Process, please email Marchauna at marchauna.rodgers@cru.org. Please be aware that it may take some time for her to respond, depending on what is happening with Makayla.