I’ve been doing some self-editing on my second book when I’m not working on my third. My second book involves a character, a child, who is seriously ill and dealing with physical challenges. Sometimes God shows me missing elements from my stories in real life encounters.
Backstory: This afternoon I had to go to a Sunday school director’s meeting and my son Seth had to come with me because I had to drop him off at his youth activity afterwards. Then I had to drive back to church service, before driving back to get him before heading home.
I’ve been dealing with some health struggles myself, and the thought of all this filled me with dread as I’ve been so tired lately. I was in bed a couple of days this week. This will be resolved soon so I’m not looking for sympathy. That is not the point of this post. Actually, I was feeling sorry for myself today because I’ve been feeling down about how much this has been hindering my life. I don’t like pity parties, but I sure invited myself to one today. Well, God didn’t let me stay for long.
After dropping Seth off, I decided to pull into the bookstore across the street and grab a black coffee, hoping to feel a bit more alert during church service as I was weak and drowsy.
Standing in line, I noticed a woman bending over what appeared to be a makeshift stroller. I knew instantly that something wasn’t right. When she raised up, I saw him.
He didn’t look like a child you’d expect to see in a stroller. He was large, but probably not more than three years old. His face was almost as white as his hair, and his eyes were narrow slits as he tried to keep them open.
My eyes dropped to an electronic device with red lights that blinked with the beeping sound it made. Apparently, it communicated something vital because the woman bent back over and started adjusting tubes, pulling them apart, and hooking them back together. There were other contraptions hooked to this boy, and my first thought was how much trouble it must have been to get this child out on this drizzly day. When I could finally pull my eyes away from this boy, I watched his caregiver. She handled him with such determined patience, and with the intent of someone who knew she had no other option.
As I watched, I instantly felt shame.
I felt shame because during my moments of pity, I actually had the fleeting thought, “Why me?” Then, I started thinking of all of the “unjust” circumstances throughout my life, private and not-so-private, and I could hear Job’s wife saying, “Curse God and die!”
Okay, not really, but still…
Anyway, I looked at this woman and this boy and my throat and eyes burned with emotion. I wanted to hug them both, but I refrained. I certainly didn’t want to end up on YouTube.
Instead, I asked her what his name was. She told me and I said I liked his name. Her mouth smiled weakly. Her eyes didn’t smile at all. We chatted for a moment. I found out she was actually his grandmother. Then, I told her I’d be praying for him. She looked at me in surprise. Then, her eyes smiled with her mouth, and she said “Thank you so much.”
I meant it. I am praying for him and for her.
As I was driving to church, I asked God to forgive me. I do not want to be so self-absorbed that I ask “Why me?” I want to say, “Why not me?”
I do not know why God allows certain struggles for each of us. We all have them. We may think some are bigger than others, but whatever is a struggle to us, is a big concern to God, no matter how small it may seem to others.
He doesn’t allow us any struggle without offering His grace, and a purpose. I do not know why that boy is suffering, but I do know God has a purpose for him and his grandmother.
He has a purpose for me, too. A purpose for each and every heartache, for each and every annoyance, and for each and every struggle, no matter how big or small.
He has a purpose for you, too.
In this encounter, I not only left my pity party, but I also came to an awareness of something missing from a scene or two in my story (You’ll just have to wait to read it to find out!).
God often works in my own life through my writing.
My favorite author Francine Rivers says, “Write what you need to read”.
I believe I will.