On Christmas Day my oldest daughter, Stefani, had a stroke. She is only 29.
I’ll spare the details except to say that her mother and I were in a state of shock. We never imagined when she was growing up that something like this might happen. Immediately we knew that our lives might change, being that we would need to act as caregivers for a time while she recovers. In addition to her stroke, there may be a related heart issue. When we got the news from the doctor it was like a punch in the gut.
Through all of this there has been no comfort. Not yet. There are too many “What ifs,” and still as of yet, unanswered questions. Will she die? Will she have a long and difficult recovery? Being in her brain, will she experience lifelong incapacities? As of yet, the answers are still in the future.
We need comfort. We want comfort. People talk about what a comfort scripture is at times like this. I’m all about the scripture. I love it. I read through the Bible three times a year. I love theology. I love the Lord. But comfort over my daughter’s future isn’t in scripture for me. God is not speaking comfort to me right now. I find, in my trying times, that comfort is fleeting. Instead, the Bible offers me something different. The theology I’ve learned me offers something more important.
We sometimes look at theology and the Bible as if it’s a big fuzzy stuffed bear that says nice things when we squeeze it. But that’s not who God is. The scripture describes him as something different.
He is a Rock.
“The Lord is my rock” (Psalm 18:2). “Who, but our God, is a solid rock?” (II Samuel 22:32). “The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psalm 18:46).
I don’t feel good about Stefani’s situation. There are no warm fuzzies because that is not what is needed. What I need, what Stefani needs, is a rock. A great big boulder. An immovable mountain of granite.
My daughter belongs to Jesus Christ. He can do with her whatever he wants, whether those things are good or bad. Her life is his and I don’t need to know the reasons why God does or allows the things that he does because I trust him. His decisions are always true, just, righteous, and necessary.
Remember Job? He didn’t look for comfort. He wanted answers. But ultimately, he didn’t get what he was looking for. What did Job say? His famous declaration was theological, then practical. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (theological), blessed be the name of the Lord” (practical) (Job 1:21).
Stability is more important than comfort. It’s like the soldier who trains for war. He doesn’t feel good going into a battle knowing he could die. He needs training that becomes second nature to help him attain victory.
It’s like a scene in one of my preferred science fiction shows. After a brutal attack by the enemy the commander of the ship tells his crew, “What matters is that as of this moment, we are at war. You’ve trained for this. You’re ready for this. Stand to your duties, trust your fellow shipmates, and we’ll all get through this.” This is what the Rock does. This is what scripture does. It prepares us. We can trust it, we can trust God. The battle isn’t pleasant, but facing it is necessary.
What is next for Stefani? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. But I am her father. So I will stand to my duties, trusting the Rock who gives stability, and he will walk with us through the battle.
And your prayers help sustain us.
Stefani is almost completely recovered from her stroke. She had an amazing turnaround yesterday. Thank God for what he has done.