lounging in the bathtub
the cat was suffering. on top of it all, she was probably deeply distressed by the treatments she surely perceived as torture that her "parents" were putting her through. she couldn't understand that what we were doing was for her good, that we were trying to save her life. she didn't know what we knew.
our cat seems to have fully recovered since then, thank goodness. but gosh, we sure complained loudly to God about the added emotional and financial stress and the timing of the whole mess. i didn't know there was a lesson in that experience specifically for me until i came to a section in the book "if God is Good" by randy alcorn, where he shares the story of a three-year-old boy who had ingested some kind of poison. on the way to the hospital, the boy's father continuously slapped the child to keep him awake so that the child would not fall asleep and die. the poor boy did not understand why his father was hitting him like this. the child was suffering not only from the poison he had ingested, but because he was perceiving his father's slaps as cruel. of course he could not understand that his father only did it for the boy's own good, to save his life. the child didn't know what his father knew.
and then there's the story of a certain family i know very well *ahem* who seemed to have it pretty good. they're what you might consider a typical "good christian family", blessed by a good marriage, good jobs, an adorable baby girl, a nice house, and good friends. life was very...good. and then one day they learned that their new baby-on-the-way was diagnosed with a fatal condition. in just a single moment, life was turned upside down. suffering began immediately and stretched out before them like a long, desolate road. their baby died shortly after being born, their lives forever scarred by such a loss. what good could come from that? what good God would allow something like that to happen?
the Father, whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours, did allow it to happen. perhaps in His sovereignty, He planned it to happen, knowing full well the suffering that would fall on this family. but perhaps He determined the suffering they experienced (and still experience) was for good; necessary to save their lives, to save someone else's life, whether spiritually or otherwise. and while they can certainly see plenty of the good that came from their suffering, they can't begin to fully know what the Father knows.
but what we do know is:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11
"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." ~Psalm 100:5
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28
the lesson i've learned is that knowing Him means knowing that He is good, whether in times of blessing or in times of suffering. knowing He is good means we don't have to question what He knows.
i'm praying that knowing Him is enough for me.