I may have mentioned before that we read the Chronicles of Narnia to the kids. Recently, we have been reading through one of my favorites in the series: "The Horse and His Boy."
Tonight we reached what I believe is the climax of the story.
In the story, there is a young boy who has had a hard life to say the least: Shasta. In all of his adventures, in this part of the story, he descends into a period of sadness. While he believes he has finally reached the point of the end of the journey as it relates to his contribution, he has become separated from the group and alone in the fog at night.
At least, he thinks he's alone. He's accompanied by a mysterious companion, whom he can't see, but He begins a dialogue. In his conversation, Shasta begins recounting the difficulties of his adventures, the worst which were being chased by lions at many times, and comes to the conclusion that he must be "the most unfortunate boy who has ever lived in the whole world."
Over the last couple weeks, I've been struggling. Recently, I got the joy of relaying on the blog that my cancer had only grown minimally in one area and actually shrunk in another. However, since a couple days after telling that good news, I've been battling waves of pain in different parts of my body, nausea and weakness like I haven't experienced before. I've also started losing weight again. I'll be honest. Since the symptoms have been so similar to when I received my first diagnosis, it has been hard to see this as anything but a strong possibility of a decline. In my more dramatic thoughts, I saw it as the beginning of the end. Since the main option for treatment has been risky human experimentation (a more accurate term than "clinical trials"), I haven't had much hope the last 2 weeks. Heck, I even wanted to call this wonderful celebrate praise service my wife put together my "pre-funeral".
So, you could say... as I read this story to my kids, I could relate to Shasta, and in my self-pity, I thought of myself as the "most unfortunate man who has ever lived in the whole world."
What's so amazing about this part of the story. It speaks for itself. By the time I was done with the "I was the lion" section... I was a wreck... the kids were all thinking: "what's wrong with daddy?"
Please read this excerpt from the story:
"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.
"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.
"There was only one lion," said the Voice.
"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"
"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."
"How do you know?"
"I was the lion." ....
"I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove back the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you." ...
"Who are you?" asked Shasta.
"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself," loud and clear and [happy]: and a third time "Myself," whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it. ...
He turned and saw pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the lion that the light came. No one ever saw something more terrible or beautiful."
You might be thinking like I do there are times in life where you're the most unfortunate. You might wonder where God is when the world goes to heck. You will even ask: "how can God love me and let something so bad happen?"
This story is a reminder of the truth of Scripture. God is our ever present help in time of need. He will never leave us forsake us. He will be with us to the very end of the age. And, for you who wonder what God is doing in the pain, we have to widen our view...
God has greater purposes than ours in His Kingdom. He will allow... and He will bring pain into our lives to accomplish those purposes. It's a very, very tough truth to swallow. Until we accept this truth, we will NEVER see Him for the God He truly is.
We like to define evil as good or bad, or really comfort and discomfort as it relates to us... as if we're the centerpiece of God's Kingdom. We must see evil as that which is contrary to God's character and what offends Him. Then, we can more properly be faithful when the days are dark and troublesome as much as they are when they're bright and cheerful.
When we see and understand that truth like Job did and accept good and evil from the Lord, we will see something truly terrible yet beautiful. We will see a King that commands our obedience yet compels our greatest affections.
So, then what in conclusion? The story of Shasta isn't finished.
"Luckily Shasta had lived all his life too far south in Calormen to have heard the tales that were whispered in Tashbaan about a dreadful Narnian demon that appeared in the form of a lion. And of course he knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion's face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at his feet. He couldn't say anything but then he didn't want to say anything, and knew he needn't say anything."
We live in a world that doubts that there can be an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God and there still be evil. Our call in these times is to:
1. Bow our knee to God in pain and accept His sovereignty.
2. Glorify Him in our pain. Our voice is heavily amplified and most convincing when we praise Him when we suffer. The world will always call on us to "curse God and die", but God's grace is sufficient.
3. Let us tell the stories of God's grace in pain and suffering so they may hear that He is not a demon, but our Good, Good Father.
God is with me in my cancer. He will be with you in whatever trial you face.