Over the course of my illness these last 10 months, I have begun to learn a multitude of lessons. But there is one in particular that is fighting to take root in my heart.
Satan is good at what he does. But God is better.
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20
One of the devil’s most powerful and successful tactics is to undermine our relationship with God. When we are going through something so painful, so lonely, and so dark, he has a way of making us question and doubt God.
Smart, isn’t it? How the devil can somehow convince us that the lonely, painful, dark thing we are going through is God’s fault? Instead of being angry at Satan for targeting us, we get angry at God for not preventing it. HOW does he do that?! And how is it so successful, every time!?
“Has God abandoned me?” “Am I no longer important to you Lord?” “Do you love me at all?” “Where are you?” “Why aren’t you answering my prayers?”. These are all questions I have found myself asking through my time of illness. Now, from a certain viewpoint, bringing me to a place of doubt and disbelief is a win for Satan. If this were the end of the story, he’d have the glory. And I’d be none the wiser, because God was the focus of my anger and hurt.
But it isn’t the end of the story.
I’m learning that it isn’t so bad to be unable to understand God’s ways. At the beginning, I used to cry out, “God, just show me what you’re doing, how is this for my good?” But I realized something recently. If I were able to understand what God was doing, then so also could Satan. With that perspective, I actually have to be thankful that God’s ways are so mysterious. He is good at outsmarting Satan. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be worthy of my worship.
In fact, this is the reason we believe in our God isn’t it?! I mean, do you think that Satan knew that three days after the crucifixion, Jesus would be resurrected, and the veil would be torn? I don’t. I rather like to think it happened like it does in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The white witch killed Aslan, and left feeling triumphant and ready to reconquer Narnia. And when Aslan appeared at the Battle, she was utterly astonished, and her defeat was swift and complete because she never saw it coming.
So even though I still don’t know how far away the light at the end of the tunnel is, or even why I’ve been put in a tunnel to begin with, I do know this: the story doesn’t end with me feeling unloved and abandoned by God. Because Satan is NOT writing the story. God is. And in the face of the hurt and pain I feel, I am choosing to believe the truth that I know.
A couple weeks ago, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotations. Written on the wall of a Jewish Concentration camp during WWII, someone had written,
“I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.
And I believe in God, even when he is silent.”
Since high school, that quotation has brought tears to my eyes. But reading it again with my current situation, I had a different perspective. I asked my husband, “How? How, in that impossible, hopeless situation could they still believe God was there?” He answered, “Because they knew the truth.”
And I know it too. God is working. He is doing something. Even if it’s on an entirely different dimension, that I will never see or understand in this world, he is working on my behalf. By no means am I trying to compare my problems to those of the individual who wrote this. But I now have a little more understanding of what it must feel like to know that there is no other way through than to trust God. Because he has my eternity in mind.
So in hearing this quotation, the tears still fall. Because trust is hard. and because I don’t want to face more struggles tomorrow. But most of all, because God is good. And I’m so thankful he’s fighting for me. Even if I can’t see how. Whatever he knows, whatever reason he is withholding health from my body, I have certainty that somehow, this is best for my spirit. And one day, I will be able to face Satan, and say, “What you meant for Evil, God meant for my Good.”
So what is he doing for my good?
I still don’t know. But I think it has something to do with my calling.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I became sick in the height of our fundraising to get to England. I know what Satan meant this to be. A discouragement, a delay, a tool of doubt, a physical, mental, and emotional obstacle, and ultimately a re-routing of our path.
Obviously God could have healed me immediately, and shut Satan out cold. We could have arrived in London, in January, and begun a ministry.
But for many reasons, there was something about this situation that God looked at, and saw good in.
A resource one of our partners shared with us, presented an analogy that I have held onto tightly in this time.
A racehorse, is made through training. Starting out as just a horse, it has no idea the race the trainer intends it to run one day. The trainer knows the duration of the race, the obstacles the horse will have to overcome, and the distance the horse will have to run. To succeed in the race, the horse must be trained and prepared, all the while not even being able to comprehend that a race is coming.
I am that horse. I am being prepared for things I do not even know are coming. And all I can do is trust that my trainer has my best in mind. He wants me to succeed, he wants me to be able to face my obstacles. So whether I need to learn endurance, strength, speed, or agility, I do not know. But my trainer does. And he’s preparing me. Even though it hurts, and even though some days I don’t believe there is an end, I choose hope. I choose to believe the truth I’ve been shown.
Satan now knows this: I am favored by God. I am still headed to England. And I am still a worthy target. I will not cower from his attacks and threats. Even though the devil is good at what he does. I continue forward. Because God is better.