Have you ever felt tricked by God?
I sure have.
You know what I mean. First, you felt a dream bubbling up from the deepest part of your heart. You prayed about it, and it still felt right. Then synchronicity shows up and pulls you ever closer to your dream in weird ways that for sure can only be orchestrated by God.
You’re like a kid at her own birthday party, bursting with joy that the gifts inside all those boxes with the beautiful bows are yours.
Then right before the confetti rains down and the fireworks light up the sky, it all blows up.
Your dreams crash and burn right in front of your face.
You just knew you should open that small business. So, you took the proverbial leap of faith, only to run out of money and confidence.
Jaded and skittish, you went on that blind date anyway. You fell in love and then fell victim to his violent temper.
How could this happen? Where was God, and where did the communication break down?
You were content with the status quo. But he stirred your soul, and you took a step, trusting He would be there to steady you. Now you feel trapped and tricked.
I remember the day I took my oldest daughter to get her kindergarten vaccines. You have to understand Mackenzie’s utter delight at the mere prospect of going to school with the big kids. She had loved books since she was a baby, and nothing excited her more than the sheer joy of learning well, anything.
She was willing to do whatever it took to cross the great chasm from pre-K to actual K. No price was too high to pay.
But she didn’t really understand the whole shots thing. She was only five, after all. In my defense, I had tried to explain that there would be a few little pokes by a lovely nurse who would then promptly give her a sucker and present her with her long-awaited passport to kindergarten.
We both put on our brave faces and dutifully followed the nurses’ instructions. There were two of them, which was my first inkling that my detailed explanation to my daughter about what was about to transpire may have been slightly flawed. They told Mackenzie to straddle my lap such that our faces were just inches apart.
Just a couple more seconds and a couple of tiny pokes, they chirped. Mackenzie looked resolute. I was terrified.
Then each nurse swabbed an arm, picked up two needles, and collectively proceeded to stick my daughter four times in rapid succession.
Her eyes instantly opened wide, then filled with tears. She registered the shock, then the physical pain. But what pained me then, and still pains me almost 20 years later is the piercing look of betrayal in my daughter’s eyes.
Those innocent, round blue eyes that I had looked into lovingly since the day she was born screamed, “HOW COULD YOU LET THAT HAPPEN TO ME?! You were right here. You watched the injustice of it all. You claim to love me, but you allowed – maybe even caused – me to experience pain.”
Mackenzie was left to wrestle with the same questions for which we demand answers from God, the cosmic clash between who she knew me to be – a loving parent who adored and protected her – and the suffering I sanctioned.
Her young mind couldn’t comprehend that my seeming cruelty was actually an act of love, an attempt to save her from something far worse than the four needle sticks – deadly diseases.
I know how she feels, and so do you.
How – and why – do we continue to trust God and exercise our faith when He seems distant at best and callous at worst?
We make the same decision Mackenzie had to make on kindergarten shot day.
She had to look beyond the confusion of her current circumstances, dig deep and cling to the truth of who she knew me to be. We had a history together. I not only told her I loved her, but I demonstrated my love every day in ways big and small. In fact, my love for her was – and is – so big that she couldn’t comprehend it, and when her heart hurts, mine does too.
So, while her wounds were still fresh and our eyes were spilling tears, I hugged her close and assured her that her dream and future would be worth the pain. Promise.
Still sniffling with her head down, she half nodded, reluctantly, like she didn’t believe it but desperately wanted the promise to be true.
I lifted her gently off my lap and set her feet firmly on the floor. I folded her sweet, soft hand into mine and together, we walked slowly, steadily out the glass door and straight into the warmth of the summer sun.