Friday, March 7, 2014

a God thing

The other day someone was telling me about how a situation had radically changed and dramatically improved her life, right in the nick of time.

"It was such a God thing," she said when describing the events that took place to bring great things into her life.

And it was a God thing. Praise God, for He is good.

But that doesn't mean only the good things are God things.

I recently got a yellow fever shot (as you might have read here), and I was reminded of this very truth through an example from four years ago.

Brad and I were slated to take a mission trip to Senegal, Africa. We were all ready to go with airfare paid, vaccination appointments booked, long skirts being bought, and sandals dug out of the cold hard winter closets.

Then we got a happy surprise. I was pregnant! It was quite a shock to our system.

However, I'm not sure if you have heard, but yellow fever vaccinations can be sort of nasty. They are not recommended right before or during pregnancy, or even when one is breastfeeding.

I called my doctor's office. "But I'm supposed to go to Africa!" I said. "This is the trip I have been WAITING FOR MY WHOLE LIFE."

"Yes, I'm sorry, but I really don't recommend that you get the shot," said the nurse on the line.

"But can I go to Africa without it?"

"Well, I strongly discourage that."

And she was probably right. I couldn't chance it and deal with the guilt of anything possibly going wrong with the baby because of the shot or because I had gotten yellow fever while in Africa. (Although even recently I have heard of someone who received a yellow fever shot the day before she found out she was pregnant, and everything was fine.)

So I waited around trying to figure this thing out. While I was waiting, I started getting tiny cramps. I will spare you the details, but after a few days and a couple of sleepless nights, there was no questioning it: I was having a miscarriage.

I spent the next night and the next day in the ER with more blood than I had ever experienced.

A little Lotz life was lost, and people all around me were experiencing happy "God things" by raising the last funds needed to go on their mission trip, getting raises at work and finding out they, themselves, were pregnant.

Where was my God thing?

I went home and mourned the loss while also considering what to do about the trip to Africa, which would take place in a few weeks. I ruled out the possibility of going for two reasons: I'd already missed the recommended time frame for getting vaccinations, and--most importantly--my heart just wasn't in the trip anymore.

This was it. No baby. No Africa. 

However, I am here to tell you that this was a God thing. It's not a God thing as in a hopeful, "We got to see our baby via ultrasound the day we were supposed to leave for Africa; a different dream, but a dream come true."

Instead, it was a God thing as in, "God is completely omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, and He loves us and promises to make all things beautiful."

I can't tell you that this part of our story ends beautifully. After all, we aren't at the end yet and--with plenty of road left ahead of us--we don't have the foggiest idea of where it will lead us.

This particular experience did, however, strengthen my support of what the Pregnancy Care Center is doing for mothers and babies, place Africa in my heart as a "someday," and give us a little kick in the amazing direction of adoption.

All of these  things are God things, although we didn't proclaim the initiating event as a God thing when it happened.

I don't write this to mince words or to make anyone feel bad for saying great things are God things. God is always in the greatness. I've seen him in the greatness and in miracles and in answered prayers, and I know it to be true.

But he's also in the sorrow. And the brokenhearted. And the mess.

I write this to encourage. If you are in a sorrowful, brokenhearted mess of a situation, and you are frustrated, downcast, or confused when people talk of their great God things (because where is your God thing?), take heart.

God is there with you, too. In the sorrow. In the broken. In the mess.