I wrote this several years ago but did not post it. I though I would today for all of you who face unexpected sorrows in your altered life.
One of my favorite books is Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The book features an unlikely heroine, Much-Afraid. She wants to go to the High Places—a place free from her Fearing relatives and the troubles she finds in the Valley of Humiliation where she lives. The Shepherd agrees. He gives her two unwelcome traveling companions: Sorrow and Suffering. Because she is crippled, she must trust them and let them help her through the rocky valleys and precipices in the mountains.
As she travels the difficult paths, she frequently faces crises of faith. At those moments, she cries out to the Shepherd. He offers wisdom and love to help her endure the struggles. She faces consistent disappointment over the paths chosen by her Shepherd and guides. At those pivotal intersections, she must make an altar and sacrifice her expectations—usually with a broken and contrite heart. The offerings are consumed in fire and become beautiful stones. With each sacrifice, she matures. With each surrender, she grabs onto the hands of Sorrow and Suffering a little more firmly.
Today I went to the nursing home to visit my mom. She didn’t speak for a long time; the conversation is always one-way. As I fed her (she can no longer feed herself), she began to respond a little to me. “Yes,” she said, as I asked her if she liked the potatoes. She smiled, too, when I fumed about the bad language on “Bridezillas” and found another station to watch instead. I am grateful for every small thing with her. I stared at her as she fell asleep, and I wondered how God gets glory from this. Yet he does, somehow. How God blends his sovereign purposes (which I don’t always like) with his infinite mercy and love is a mystery I can’t comprehend. I know it’s true, and I will try to rest in the unknown wonder of it all, but trusting is difficult when life brings sorrow or suffering.
Like Much-Afraid, I place things on the altar. Today I place my happiness, her health and a sense of “normalcy” in our relationship on the altar. I give thanks for the small things, and I attempt to rest in his sovereign purposes and love. And like many paths we plan for ourselves, this is one he has altered for his glory. I take the hands of Sorrow and Suffering and walk the path in front of me. This is the road he has selected for my mother and my family. This is not a journey I would have chosen; it is not one she, my family, or I expected, either. But God intends to get glory from it, and he will. Somehow.
It is, after all, an altared course.