Contrary to popular belief, suffering is part of the human condition for people desiring to follow Christ. But, I have come to know, that although painful and uncomfortable, suffering is a gift from a loving Father. The longer I have been a follower of The Way, the deeper my faith and trust in God has become, and the more my eyes have been opened to His ways. When I was a child, I thought like a child, but when I became a woman, I put away childish things. And in putting away childish things, I discovered the fullness of Gods love and his immense grace towards His children.
Many years ago, Sir Knight and I lost a daughter to stillbirth. We had planned for this baby and anxiously awaited her arrival. Her death was devastating. Many nights, Sir Knight lay helplessly listening to the body wracking sobs that can only emanate from a grieving mother. Although I knew God, I railed against a Father that could have saved my baby, but chose not to. One minute I was angry with God and the next minute I was crushed with guilt, knowing that my sinful life had most likely led to this moment. Deep in my soul I knew that God forgave my sins but didn't exclude me from suffering the consequences. I was broken.
One morning, as another day dawned, I walked through our neighborhood praying for understanding, peace and comfort. As tears coursed down my face, my heart was softened. I prayed to thank God for the sweet pregnancy I had enjoyed with Chase. I thanked Him for the hours I had been allowed to hold her. I thanked him for the two other children He has blessed me with. I thanked God.
And then I saw her. Just as clearly as I can see my children before my eyes, I saw my sweet little girl. She sat on the shoulder of my Lord, looking at me with blue eyes framed by soft brown curls. I reached for her and Jesus looked at me with intense love and said "She is not for you now. Now, she is with me. Someday, you will join us". And they were gone. The void, too, was gone. The void in my heart was filled with the unshakable knowledge that my daughter was with her savior. I was at peace. But even more than peace, I had been given the greatest of gifts. God himself had stored a treasure in heaven - for ME. One of my greatest treasures - my daughter - was waiting for me in heaven and with that treasure was part of my heart. I was given an immense gift from the Creator of the universe.
Time and again, as I have sought to know God and be molded into the image of His son, I have suffered. Many times I have cried "Why". Often I have been sure that my suffering was punishment. But over and over and over God has whispered in my ear of His insurmountable love, of His forgiveness and of the plan that only He can know. And in the suffering, I have learned to know God and to trust Him and to love Him - and to know His overwhelming love for me.
And, it's not just me. A couple of months ago, I was sent a book that was wrought with the understanding of the refining power of suffering. It was life changing. I had thought that I was the only one that could see God's best in life's worst. I'm not. Author Samuel Benjamin Gray put together a book of parables called Wagon of Fools that digs deep into the foibles of men and reveals the beauty of God's perfect plan. It was so powerful, in fact, that I spent many mornings reading parables to the rapt audience of my children with tears streaming down my face.
Read this book at your peril, but only if you want to see the glory of God in a wagon of fools.