Searching for silver in storm clouds

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in Miscellaneous | 11 comments

It’s been ages since I wrote a post in my series about fruits of the spirit. I’ve felt a bit stuck on the theme of kindness – trying to think of something new and fresh to say on the topic. Or perhaps I should just say that I’ve felt stuck “trying to think”. It’s been a busy, exhausting couple of months. Most of the time right now I feel as if I’m walking around with half a working brain, a quarter of my personality, twice my normal quotient of irritability and anxiety, and not a single flicker of creative inspiration.

These last few months have not been my favorite season of this year so far.

So last weekend, in the absence of anything interesting to say about kindness, I thought I’d turn over a new leaf and move on to the theme of goodness. 

I should have known better. With the possible exception of the month (three months) of kindness, each of these themes seems to have been associated with a challenge tailor-made to test me on that front.

During the month of love, I struggled to figure out this new parenthood thing and how I felt about the fact that I wasn’t swamped with an exhilarating rush of love for Dominic upon his birth. The month of joy saw me smothered by some significant post-natal depression and anxiety. During the month of peace, Dominic broke his femur, and the month of patience saw us caring for a baby in a cast.

The day I decided to move onto the theme of goodness brought with it the news that Mike had herniated a disc in his back. The next day we learned that the herniation was severe and surgery was recommended.

Now, ten days later we’re sitting in hospital. Mike’s hooked up to an IV that’s dripping saline into the back of his hand. Soon they will come to start him on antibiotics, and wheel him down to the operating theatre.

Dominic is napping in his stroller. It is a brief and blessed break from having him crawling all over the floor and then sucking on his fingers, or ripping an electrical outlet cover right out of the wall, or whining to be picked up – which after 1pm today I will be only parent allowed to do for two whole months.

I am sitting here thinking about how much my broken ankle still hurts, and about goodness.

There is a seminal verse in Romans chapter 8 that goes like this, “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.”

I have a love/hate relationship with that verse.

It confounds me. More than that, even, it can anger me. Whenever I hear it, one of the little voices that lives inside my head (the one who wears torn jeans and sports a nose ring and an ill-advised tattoo) pipes up defiantly, “Oh yeah? What about drunk driving and cancer and war? What about kids dying in Syria and Sudan and movie theaters in Colorado? Huh? Just try to talk to me about good in all of that.”

I’ve heard that verse offered glibly, as a platitude, too many times. And I’ve seen it burden people who couldn’t feel any good in their current situation with additional feelings of failure, guilt, fear and self-doubt – failure and guilt over their inability to conjure up a bright side at will, and fear and doubt about what that implies regarding their relationship with God and his purposes.    

And, yet.

Great hope lies in those words, doesn’t it? Even when I’m feeling confused and resentful I can still often draw solace from that promise. I can’t believe that statement blindly, without doubt or questions, but I guess you could say I believe it enough to draw strength from it – to trust that dark clouds will be gilded with silver. Somehow. Eventually.

This is the closest I could get to a happy dad-baby photo this morning. Like so many other things in life right now, it’ll just have to do …

Related posts:

"I like Laos"
Back to Thailand, back to hospital
The Courage of Goodbye


  1. Holding you all in the light and in my heart. Love love love. xo

  2. Thinking of all three of you today and sending hopes for speedy recoveries.

  3. You’re at the top of my prayer list! I too struggle with that verse in Romans (also try James 1:2). And every time I think of my own adversity, I conjure up those images of the children in Syria and the Sudan and think my “adversity” ain’t nothing compared to theirs. So I pick up and carry on.

  4. sending some love from this side of the world… from what I have read, you have tenacity in abundance and humor that will help lighten the darkest moments! your online audience (me included) will continue to pray and cheer you on virtually! esp when you return to your routine in Laos…

  5. Lisa & family,
    I hope you are both recovering without additional complications. Times like this, I always think, “At least the kid(s) won’t remember it!” Of course, now mine are of an age that they will… I’m praying for your family during this time of adversity.

    ps – I recently finished your new book and cannot stop recommending it (and _Hands_) to friends and family. I appreciate the many hours of enjoyment I had reading the book and then the many questions and thoughts I’ve pondered about my own life, after spending time in yours.

  6. Thank you for your honesty. I think God’s promises often work like that. They are so impossibly too good to be true, and yet are true. Praying for you and Mike.

  7. Oh my, Lisa, sorry I was out of the loop and had missed that all of this was happening. When people offer that verse as encouragement, but likely sans understanding the severity of your situation, it sounds so empty and hollow, I know, which makes me really angry too. Times like this I just want someone to snatch me up, hold me and let me know that everything will truly be okay. It is so hard when life just hurts so much–and you simply don’t have a the energy reserve to attack it with any kind of vigor. I am praying for your strength and peace and for this season to fly so quickly. Wish I could offer something tangible, but you have my prayers….

  8. Thanks all – it’s been a super long week, but Mike’s out of hospital now. Next challenge – relocating all of us from Thailand to Laos tomorrow!

  9. oh friend! hugs of warmth and patience for you! and yes, those syringes are in my purse, car and in drawers around the house to allow for 10 minutes of distraction when needed! so far the boys haven’t maimed themselves with them. 🙂 prayers for quick recovery!

    • I use them on the diaper change table now!!

  10. Still praying, and thinking about love/hate relationships with God’s promises.

    It’s triggered a blog post of my own.