An Untold Love Story
by Ken & Joni Eareckson Tada
There it is, right out in the open, the question of suffering.
I sit in a chair by the fireplace at my parents' house as I read. I hear my mom tell a little boy, "Put your jacket on." My mom runs a small preschool out of her home and it's time for recess. The little boy comes wandering up to me - I am nowhere near the jackets - and asks, "What are you doing?" I do not answer his question, but respond with, "What are you supposed to be doing? Go put your jacket on."
Romans 8:17 NLT
And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
When I suffer (which has no comparison to what Joni has been through!), I am like a little child wandering in to the throne room and asking God, "Are you still doing your job?" Instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I try to look over God's shoulder and see what He's doing. I want to make sure that He is, in fact, doing something and has not forgotten about me. Sometimes, God pulls me up on His lap and lets me take a peek. Other times, He gently but firmly points me back to what I'm supposed to be doing.
God is quite up front about never promising us that bad things won't happen. In fact, He repeatedly shows and tells us about suffering and persecution and troubles. He did not even spare His own son. He often does not answer the why, not to Job nor to Gideon nor to me, but he reassures all of us that He is here. He is close and caring. All of our troubles have an end date and there is nothing that is beyond His grace. We do not go through hard things because He has forsaken us or does not care or has accidentally misplaced us for a season. He does not say, "Now where did I put Becky? Ah yes, Wishkah. Left her there a bit too long. Oops. Better do something about that." Although that is what I have thought a time or two, waiting for this current assignment in my life to make sense. While I wait, back to the book.
I faced my fears that it would be too much for my heart to bear, hearing her story, and finished the book this morning. It was very sweet to read of the renewed love in their marriage after her cancer diagnosis. My husband and I went through something similar after I had a physical/mental/spiritual breakdown in April 2016, almost two years ago now. I thought it would be the last straw for our marriage, but my husband was tender and sweet, and as Joni says, the presence of Christ in my life (for a time, we have had fights since then, ha ha).
Even though I cannot explain the why, my theory about suffering is, "The harder the trial, the bigger the reward." As an earthly parent, if I know my child has to go through something hard, like being brave for shots, I promise them something good in return. How much more our Heavenly Father, both in this life and in the life to come. I was speaking to a pastor's wife one day, and we were both trying to put into words how the sorrows we have endured have somehow scooped out more space for joy. I certainly hope this is true in Joni's life and I pray for blessing upon blessing in her and Ken's life.