Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What we cannot know and what we can

I have been without words since late Friday afternoon, paralyzed in my writing.  My thoughts and my prayers have been spinning out in a thousand different directions.  None of us can comprehend the evil displayed in Paris last week. We have all been impacted by it. Deeds do not exist in a vacuum, but reverberate to encompass the world.

And we are all connected in some degree by the actions of those we do not even know.

Listening to the news, or even checking my email, was about the farthest thing from my mind on Friday.  We had helped our sick daughter that day by taking care of our two in-town grandchildren.  They played, they napped, and they left a trail of crumbs in the kitchen.  On our way back to their house late in the afternoon, my mother-in-law called to ask about one of our other daughters who had been traveling for the past week.  I heard just snatches of my husband's conversation with his mom.  "No, we hadn't seen the news... No, we haven't heard yet from her....We'll let you know."

We had no idea what was happening.  We snapped on NPR in the car.  The first shocking reports of the atrocities in Paris were coming to the surface.  No one seemed to know what was going on, except that it appeared that the unspeakable was still going on.

About fifteen minutes later, we received a text message from our daughter:  "Just wanted to let you know we're safe."

No sweeter words could we have received at that point.

Hours before the terrorist attacks began, our daughter and her friend had left Paris to finish up their trip in Lyon and fly home from there.  They had been staying very close to where the shootings occurred... and now, they were a two hour train ride away.

They had made those travel plans months and months ago, not realizing at the time that their idea to complete their trip in Lyon may have saved their lives.

Who knew?

God did.

There are things we cannot know at the time, narrow squeaks we slip through, devastating incidents we never see, like a truck that just misses us, or incredible encounters like sitting down next to a stranger who becomes a good friend. Or even a crazy idea to go to Lyon for something seemingly remote as a better airfare, or another art museum that needed exploring, or nothing in particular, just that it might be a fun thing to do.

There is nothing random at all.

"Never allow that the haphazard is anything less than God's appointed order, and be ready to discover the Divine design anywhere," says Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

There are so many things like this that we cannot know.  But there is something we can know, even in trouble, even in hardship, even in danger, even in grief:

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Fear not, I am with you.
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you
     with My victorious right hand.

                       Isaiah 41. 10

Please keep praying for the people of Paris as they grieve the loss of precious, sacred lives.

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