Friday, April 18, 2014

A Letter to Grace Elizabeth

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . little Anna laughing as she hugged me.

. . . Baby Todd letting me put a spoon in his mouth the very first time I tried.  In fact, I had to keep mixing up more baby cereal because he ate everything I fed him.  Considering how big he is (20 pounds at 5 months), it shouldn't surprise me that he has a hearty appetite.

. . . eating Easter M&Ms.  For some reason, I like them better than the regular ones.  Maybe the shells are crunchier.

And another thing . . .

. . . yesterday, I randomly happened upon a post by someone I'd never even heard of before.  Her name is Grace Elizabeth, and she wrote

I'd like to know how you're supposed to believe in something you can't see. Hear. or feel. I mean, I've been through some [junk] no one should have to go through.
But everytime I prayed for the pain to stop it didn't. So please, explain this to me.
If he's "All mighty" then how come he allows so much hatred to come into the world when he said he was making it "Perfect".
And if he forgives, then why would there be a need for Hell if "God forgives all". I'd really like to know how you are supposed to believe in this.
Especially when it's all based on a book written HUNDREDS of years ago~
Don't hate. I really want to know~

I decided to share my two cents, hoping it would help her.  I ended up writing a lot more than two cents' worth, though:

Been thinking about your post and comments a lot since I saw them yesterday.  No one deserves to go through what you and your sister have gone through, and it can be hard to believe in a God who allows misery like that.

It reminds me of when I took my two sons to get vaccines a few weeks ago.  I can just imagine the baby thinking, “OWWWW!! Why is this happening to me?  Make it stop!”  My older boy kind of understood why he had to go through that pain, but at five years old he still didn’t grasp that one minute of pain was better than possibly getting paralyzed by polio or dying from measles.  He bravely sat on my lap and let the nurse give him five shots, but he cried and hated every moment of it.  I did, too, but while I could have told the nurse to stop any time, I knew a lifetime of immunity was worth a minute of pain.

God feels the same way.  He’s thrilled when we’re happy, and really sad when we suffer, but He knows that suffering has to happen for us to grow the way we need to.  Here on Earth it’s hard to see the big picture, especially when the pain seems to last FOR.EV.ER!!!, but even the longest life is just a moment compared to eternity.  Would you endure a moment of misery if it earned you thousands of years of Totally Awesome?

God doesn’t stop the pain because He loves us and knows we need it, but He will help us through it if we ask Him to.  He won’t force us to accept His help, though.  He’s fair and doesn’t force people to make good choices – that’s why there’s so much hatred in the world (and so much good, too).  God lets us spend this short life deciding whether we’re going to play fair and care about other people, or whether we want to be jerks who only care about ourselves.  Some people choose to be kind; others choose to be jerks.

And in the next life God will give us what we each deserve.  He forgives us, in the sense that He loves us all and isn’t mad at us, but He’ll give us each what we choose to earn.  The people who try to be kind and care about others will go to Heaven where everyone else cares about and loves them back. Notice I didn’t say Heaven is for perfect people; if you’re honestly trying to be good to other people that’s what God really cares about, even if you mess up a lot.

The jerks, on the other hand, will spend eternity with every other jerk who ever lived.  Frankly, that’s hell.  It ain’t flames and a guy with red tights and a pitchfork.  It’s living forever with a bunch of mean people who only care about themselves and treat each other like dirt.

Life isn’t fair, but eternity is.  And life is short, but eternity is very long.  God knows and loves you, Grace, even if you can’t feel it right now.  If you do your best to do what you feel is right—whatever that is—your eternity will be worth everything you’ve gone through.  You’ll look back on your pain and think, “I hated every second of that . . . but it was so worth it.”  Hard to imagine now, but it’s true.  I promise.


Grace Elizabeth wrote back a few hours later, saying that she respects my choices but she just can't believe that God would let someone go through everything she has experienced.  I was saddened by her response, but not surprised.  I was sure I couldn't convince her, but I wanted to write one more comment so she'd know that I heard her and cared about her:

I respect where you’re coming from, too.  Life can be so, so rough, and it’s hard to believe that Someone who loves you would let you go through all that.  As I’ve tried to know and understand God through the years, I’ve come to know that He truly exists and cares about us.  I’ve experienced too much to doubt it.  I’m not asking you to believe me, but I hope someday you’ll feel how much He really does care about you.


I don't know what impact my words will have on her, if any, but I hope they will help her at some point on her journey.

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