Before any of the townsfolk could come over to speak to her, she opened the restaurant door and carried Alia inside, locking the place behind her. So she looked antisocial? She didn’t much care.
Somehow, she pinned on a smile for Alia as she headed for the stairs. “Let’s take you to bed, kiddo. Like Daddy said, you need to sleep.”
“Not sleep.” Alia shook her head. “We have to pray for Gi-Gi first. Then I’ll sleep.”
Mel’s smile faltered. “So we do, sweetie. So we do.”
As always, her child’s simple faith amazed her. A faith she wished she could share, and yet couldn’t. Still, she knelt along with Alia beside the bed, head bowed, hands clasped beneath her chin.
And no words came.
Please, Lord, give me the words to comfort her.
That had to be the most ridiculous prayer ever, when anger with God surged through her body. And yet, words came. Even as her head argued back and her heart twisted, she prayed out loud for Paula. For God to hold her safely in His care, for Him to guide Mark in treating her, for Him to help them to trust in Him and surrender all their worries into His hands.
Alia echoed Mel’s amen. And she would doubtless do exactly that, hand everything that bothered her over to God. Mel couldn’t. She’d tried. So. Many. Times. And yet all she ended with were more worries.
After tucking Alia up in bed, kissing her, and dimming her light, Mel trudged to the living room and slumped on the sofa. She didn’t even have the energy to make herself a cup of coffee. Her burdens were too much, too heavy to bear. Paula’s collapse had brought her whole hopeful house of cards crashing down.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
That whisper in her mind again. It had to be God. And she didn’t believe Him.
Is it, Lord? Is it really? I don’t think so. You’ve piled too much on me. Where were You when Dad suffered so much pain? Where were You when Eric took his last breath?Where were You when Alia went through procedure after procedure? Where were You when her doctor told me she’s not going to get better?
Angry tears stung her eyes, and her fists clenched. She slipped from the sofa to kneel beside it and pounded the cushions over and over again until her hands hurt. For what could have been hours.
And it still didn’t ease her rage.
Honestly, if Jesus were here in the room with her now, she’d probably punch Him.
Go ahead, sweet daughter. I can take it. I’m right here with you. Punch me as hard as you want. And where was I, besides staying right there with you through it all? I was here. Getting punched for you.
An image flashed into her sight, as real as if she were there. Not the pretty Christmas card image of a beautiful baby asleep in the hay. She saw Jesus on the Cross. Saw His battered body bruised and bleeding after a night of torture. Saw His hair matted with blood and sweat. Saw Him suffering an agony she couldn’t even begin to imagine.
Huge sobs tore through her body, and she shoved a fist in her mouth to stop the noise from disturbing Alia.
Oh, dear Lord…
Impossible to say more as the shuddering sobs shook her.
I did that for you, sweet daughter, and for every person you’ve ever loved and ever will love. So you, along with all who come to Me, can know My love and My peace. So by My wounds, you can be healed. That doesn’t just mean your salvation. It means all of your life.
Let yourself grieve, child, your anger is part of it. And then rather than turning away from Me, let Me give you My joy.
Suddenly, she knew. He had been there with her all along.
Rather than leading her into pain and then abandoning her, He was there with her, reaching out His arms to carry her through it all — if only she’d let Him.
But she hadn’t let Him.
Grief was the price of love. Nurse Vicki had been right. But the deeper the grief, the closer He was. He knew because He’d already paid that price. For her. And she’d pushed Him away, tried to Pollyanna her way through on her own when her angry, fearful heart couldn’t possibly let real joy in. She’d blamed Him for her suffering, rather than seeing He wept right along with her.
I’m so sorry, Lord. Please, please, will You forgive me? And please, take this burden I’ve chosen to carry from me. My grief, my anger, my fear.
He did. Without a word, she felt lighter, freer. Though more grief and anger and fear would come, she trusted He’d support her and love her and forgive her. She drew in a deep breath, feeling as if it was the first time she’d really breathed in years.
Remember, child, I’m right with you, always. I’ll stay with you, whatever happens.
(From Marry Me © copyright 2020 Autumn Macarthur)