“Mommy, I wish God were real.”
My older son said this, sucking in his breath that followed a hard sob. His body still shook. “I wish He didn’t just live in my heart.”
Trying to figure out what-in-the-world he was attempting to express, I asked this follow-up question.
“Sweetheart, do you mean that you wish He were here right now to give you a hug?”
The squishing of his eyes and nose and brow, suggested I nailed it before his whimper of a “yes” slipped out of his mouth.
“Oh, honey…” I said, taking his shoulders in my hands and kneeling so that I could look him eye-to-eye. “See, here’s the good news, sweetheart. Because God lives in my heart, too, when I give you a hug, God hugs you, too! Can I give you a hug?”
Just minutes before, my son had fallen.
A terribly bad fall.
Like more than six feet, head-first onto concrete kind of fall. He was attempting to pull up his pants after relieving himself, so there was no benefit of his hands or shoulder or legs breaking his fall. This nearly four-year-old wobbled, losing his balance, as he covered himself, and he landed solely and directly on his forehead.
The adrenaline surged within me, and I went into action: get my son; carry him home to safety; stop the bleeding; get help for the other children, so I can take him to ER. My mind raced with detail, and blanked in terms of how dire a head trauma can be.
In the midst of vacillating between clarity and fogginess, my son desired to be held by God.
To me, it was breathtaking.
Humbling. God was not on the forefront of my mind. I was in task mode.
It was a beautiful example of the honest, difficult work associated with confronting a past traumatized by sexual abuse.
Each of us, as we allow ourselves to be honest through the healing process, sit in reflection and desire to be held by the God of the universe.
We proceeded to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room. I repeated the sequence of events to each staff member, and, each time, the reality of said events settled within me with a bit more clarity at each telling. My son should be much more injured than he is…Nothing else broke his fall, except his head…oh, dear God…
In asides, several of the nurses expressed surprise and shock to the same effect: “After reading his chart and the explanation of what happened, I expected much worse…”
Right there in the middle of the examination room, a final clarity revealed itself to me: God, in His great grace–for no other reason than His own glory–positioned my son’s body, my son’s head–just so–to prevent death, paralysis, or brain damage.
Oh, thank you, Father for your protection.
It’s a common question for those of us who have suffered abuse: Where were you, God? Why didn’t you protect me?
Theological answers of God’s omnipotence fail to comfort the torturous nature this question brings upon the heart, the mind, the soul of the abused.
Yet, it warrants the asking in a wrestling-type match with our God, who is strong and trustworthy enough to handle the question’s seemingly disrespect. As we wrestle with our Maker and tire within His arms, under the shelter of His wings, He whispers truth to us.
I’ve wrestled with our Maker over this question years ago.
“I held your hand.”
At first, I was affronted by His answer.
Well, WHY didn’t you DO something to stop it?!
Such passivity galled my soft, Care-Bear view of who God really is.
Slowly, gently, quietly, He spoke to my heart, like one who approaches a dove. Deep pain allows for great compassion, as you allow Me to heal you.
Quiet action can often be mistaken as passivity.
Could God have intervened in my life as a little girl, protecting me from sexual abuse?
Could God have intervened in my son’s life, allowing him to catch his balance and avoid the fall altogether?
But then I wouldn’t have been able to wrestle and then collapse under His tender embrace, hearing His love and care for me; and my son wouldn’t have been able to witness the manifestation of his God tending to the deeper need of His heart to know that God was present, that God is real.
I dare not rejoice for sin and trauma and pain.
I dare to raise my voice in praise for the way in which the Lord meets us before, during, and after our suffering takes place, because He takes all things, works them for good, and brings about maturation, even in me.
A few days following my son’s fall, I overheard the following. My son, noticing that his stuffy-nosed daddy needed a little extra love, stated: “Daddy, when I kiss you, God kisses you.”
Oh, how great is Your love for us!
Yes, dear one, our God is real.
Yes, dear one, He longs to embrace you today, right where you are.
What’s your next step?
Have you taken those honest, yet challenging steps to confront your past in light of God’s goodness and love? How has He revealed Himself to you, in a hug, a wrestling match? He loves each of His children and desires to know and to be known by each one.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely. Song of Solomon 2:14, ESV