The cross and comfort

God wants us to go to Her for comfort when we hurt. I believe this.

Psalm 34:18 tells us: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

But all my questions make it tough to find comfort right now.

I wish there was a story in the New Testament where someone with faith prayed for healing and didn’t get it. That would comfort me. It would help confirm that those of us who don’t receive the miracles we pray for aren’t failures.

During Jesus’ life on earth, the only people we hear of him not healing are those who didn’t go to him or those who didn’t believe. Where is the story for those of us who do both those things and still have to watch our child die?

When I was praying about this recently, God asked me to remember the story of Jesus dying on the cross. It’s a story, God reminded me, of a person with perfect faith not getting what he asked for.

I deeply doubted that I was hearing God in that moment. I know the story well, and I really wouldn’t describe it that way. I considered ignoring this prompting, but I didn’t.

Instead, I remembered Jesus, praying in the garden before he was arrested, calling out to God, concerned about the future and sweating drops of blood. I remembered that he asked God to change the plan, to spare him the suffering he knew he was about to endure.

But God didn’t do that. God knew the plan required suffering. God, motivated by magnificent love, didn’t change course.

And after that sincere and trusting prayer in the garden, everything in Jesus’ life appeared to go horrifically wrong. The suffering he endured is beyond what any human before or since has experienced. And after being beaten mercilessly, humiliated and crucified, he asked God “Why?! Why have you forsaken me?” Or, as we might say it today, “Where are you, God? Why has this happened to me?”

I thought about that. And it did, in fact, bring me comfort. But only for a moment.

Because I go back to God and remind Her that as much I can see how Jesus didn’t get the easier road he asked for and I can clearly see that he knows what it is to suffer… it’s still different than what I’m going through.

Because Jesus knew he needed to die. He knew he had a greater purpose. What purpose does Brody’s death have? And, furthermore, as I understand it, Jesus’ died so that Brody wouldn’t have to – so that he could be born healthy and live long on this earth.

Don’t you see God? Don’t you understand what frustrates me? How can I get comfort from this story? The way I see it, it just amplifies my pain. It is a reminder that Jesus did so much for me and I failed to accept the gift.

And seeing my own thoughts before me now makes me indignant.

Because I think the cross is exactly what we’re meant to look at when we suffer. Christ’s death and resurrection is this incredible story of love, purpose, trust, suffering, struggle and victory. And remembering it shouldn’t bring me shame.

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