In keeping with my tendency to be extremely current and right on trend, I just finished reading the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, published in 2003. I hope I'm not spoiling it for anyone, but in this work of fiction, the main character (Eddie) dies and comes across 5 different people in heaven - some he knows and some he doesn't. Each one somehow either altered the path of his life, or he altered theirs. The purpose of these encounters is for Eddie to understand why certain things happened the way they did in his life on earth. Although quite different, the story reminded me of the song "Thank You" sung by Ray Boltz. In the song, a man dies and goes to heaven. There he encounters multiple people who came into relationship with Christ because of something the singer had done. From giving money to missions, to teaching a Sunday School class, his actions leading to another's salvation were recounted to him. When you think about how many nice things we do that go unnoticed and unappreciated here, it's satisfying to picture a receiving line of gratitude in the hereafter; but I'm not sure how biblically accurate it is. In fact, I'm not sure we will really even care about anyone else once we have seen the face of our Savior. Revelation 5:13 leads me to believe that we will be too busy praising Him to have time for much else. "Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'"
But back to imperfect earth - the place where we don't always get to see the finished product. We wonder why things happen the way they do. Are there pieces of your life that don't seem to fit? Do you question "why"? Maybe you are even angry about something that makes about as much sense to you as Lady Gaga's fashion choices. Guess what? You are human...having a very human experience in a very confusing world. And sometimes we long for the comfort of questions answered. We want to attach some meaning to what seems meaningless. And sometimes in His great mercy, God sees fit to show us glimpses of that. I believe He has done that to some extent for me where Shelby's condition is concerned. When she was younger, I used to pray for her complete healing. But I believe God uses her health to give me easier opportunities to tell others about Him. You see, I am not a bold witness. I wish I had the gift of evangelism, but it doesn't come easy for me. I am timid and awkward with it. And since I typically shy away from bringing up my relationship with Jesus, God has provided an avenue for people to approach me. "How is Shelby doing?" I have been asked hundreds and hundreds of times in her young life. This sweet inquiry offers me the chance to not only update people on her, but to share with them how God is answering prayers and how He is moving in our family. I no longer believe that Shelby will ever be completely healed this side of heaven. I still pray for the cessation of her seizures and suffering and for her to increase in strength, skills and knowledge. And I will live to see some of those prayers answered here.
Do I think my witness is the only reason Shelby has Dravet Syndrome? No. I would never presume to know the mind of God outside of what is written in the scriptures (and even what is in the scriptures I wrestle with at times). I believe our lives and actions and words and conditions have far reaching effects - so far that we will probably never be able to measure. In a sermon I podcasted, my friend Damon Parker put it something like this: If someone splashes in the East China Sea, is there a hurricane in Galveston? The splasher may never see the effects, but must be aware that his life changes things. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. We have to KNOW even if we never see the GOOD. That's faith. ("Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.") And faith is hard. Especially when something we are dealing with is so difficult that it seems beyond good reason: a young child dies; you are devasted financially, a parent is diagnosed with cancer; etc, etc, etc. We most certainly will never understand it all here in this world, but God's Word promises us that God will reveal everything we need to know someday. "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 Take comfort in that.