My days as a Theology student wrapped up at the University of Edinburgh a decade ago, but the circumstances of life being what they are at the moment, finding the Theology to help me to process and understand the hard things has been a part of the process of dealing with what my family has walked through. {If you don’t know what circumstances I’m speaking of, you can glance at this post on the blog for a recap.}

I’ve been wrestling with understanding how the Lord fits into the puzzle of hard places in life. Not exactly the “Where are you now?” question, but more like the “Lord, are you the Author of this affliction, or are you more like the Incredible Being who saw this coming from the beginning and knew how you would catch the ball when it was flung, and how you would begin juggling it and turning it around for good, and still not drop any of the other millions of balls you are juggling?” 

I thought about how Job’s affliction seemed to get started when God said, “Have you considered my servant Job?” to the devil. So I wrestled and prayed and asked — Are you the Initiator of the sufferings? 

And my reading led me to Lamentations:

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
{Lam. 3:31-33}

That word willingly — in the Hebrew it has to do with the heart. Another translation could be “from His heart, He does not afflict.” 

And I found my way back to Theology that comforted my soul years ago: that God has a sovereign will. There are ways He moves. Things He ordains. And He also has a permissive will. Things He allows but doesn’t necessarily prefer. If He took the complete control He absolutely has the power to take, and everything happened exactly the way He wanted? We would be automatons, robots — beings without the free will to choose, for better or for worse.

John Gill commented on those verses above, “For all afflictions are from God, but they do not come from the mere motion of his heart, or are the effects of his sovereign will and pleasure, as the good things he bestows upon people do, without any respect to any cause or occasion in them; but sin is the cause and occasion of these…”

What does this mean to me and why does it give me comfort? 

I’m reminded of two things. One, we live in a broken world. And the consequences of the brokenness that started right back there at the beginning with the fall, are the things we tend to dislike very much in the world. Abuse, Neglect. War and hurt. Poverty and hatred and racism. All these things are born in brokenness. We are the hurting people who hurt people.

But Two! Two, there is a God who loves us. Who shows compassion and has unfailing love. Psalm 92:15 says, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” My dear friend Shelley loves the translation that says, “There is no wickedness in Him!” And it is true!

The fall has affected us right down to our DNA. We are not the creatures we were created to be. Before sin, there was no death! No hatred, no sadness, no eight-year-olds with inexplicable AVMs that cause intracranial bleeding. The fall set into motion the proverbial chain of events that led to every hurt you or I have ever or will ever experience on this Earth.

But God! He is in the business of using everything for our good and His glory! So when an eight-year-old does have an inexplicable AVM, He may answer the prayers of thousands of people and show up in a mighty way to bring healing and miraculous goodness in ways that will change many, many lives for good. I’m pretty sure He might do that — because in our situation, He already has.

So hold onto these two truths for whatever you’re facing, friend. First, that we live in an imperfect world and God’s permissive will allows things that are not His sovereign will — not His plan or what He wanted or how He hoped for things to go. But second, and more important, He is just. He a rock to hold onto through every trial and storm, and there is absolutely no wickedness in Him. 

Hold on, and hold on, and keep holding on. Know that whatever valley you trudge through, you will see glory if you do not lose hope. It is in His nature to answer prayers, to show compassion, and to make everything beautiful, and He cannot do otherwise.



I hope you’re encouraged today, friend. If you’re visiting this site for the first time, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.

Update on Blake

Thank you dear friends for praying for our sweet boy lots and often! He is doing so well. He has regained control of his left arm and hand, is walking with more strength and less assistance, and cognitively is improving in leaps and bounds. Counting in Spanish. Reading aloud. Writing in short bursts. He is still on a number of medications that are slowly being weaned, and he is working hard through lots of therapy to give him the best possible outcome. That has been hard for him, but we know the best things in life usually come from hard work! The best part of this update has to be that he will get to come home with us on Friday, October 18th. We are absolutely ecstatic to have gone from uncertain of his survival to excitedly planning his homecoming 48 days later. 

He will need continued outpatient therapy and we will begin to figure out what life looks like in this temporary new normal, but we are so excited by the very promising steps toward recovery he has taken so far, and we continue to pray for his 100% head-to-toe healing. Please join us in praying for Blake, specifically for him to continue to regain motor function and balance and strength on his left side, for wisdom for his doctors, for 100% healing, and for his AVM to completely disappear and need no further treatment. 

We have a gofundme right here with a little video documenting a snippet of Blake’s gorgeous personality and our journey here in the hospital which we’ve created in hopes of fundraising to help with the very significant costs associated with living at the hospital for 48 days!

My friend Katherine also designed Raise a Hallelujah t-shirts as a fundraiser, and we are hoping to have a big fat celebration wearing those t-shirts and rejoicing sometime after we have our sweet Blake home!

Thank you for your prayers, friends!!