It’s in my nature. I worry about, struggle with, obsess over and push back against everything. I never developed beyond the childhood stage of constantly, over and over, asking the question “Why?” Then getting an answer and asking again, “…But why?” Always demanding answers.

Included in my actual list of “Things I’ve Learned” then was how to spell “mastectomy” and “lumpectomy”; that just about everyone has a horrific cancer story to tell and tells it regardless of outcome; and that God’s ways are capricious.

That’s the dark side of God’s sovereignty and a deep hole into which we (especially us Reformed leaning folks) can fall when his sovereignty is “taken to the wall.” I pictured it. He did this to my sister. With a flick of his hand to the wind, and changing his mind on a whim, God can and will do whatever he wants. I’m not asked my opinion. I don’t have a vote or a say.

And this wasn’t the first time (nor I suspect, the last) I’ve felt this way. With four hurricanes, one after the other, heading towards Orlando, I gave up praying altogether. I figured that if God was going to do whatever God was going to do, why pray?

My favorite song became Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames.” I played it over and over, actively and defiantly feeding my anger: “You thought God was an architect, now you know / He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow…”

I stayed away from church. I didn’t want to be anywhere he was…and I was having a hard enough time with him everywhere else. Then I went to church online, crying in my living room. Eventually, in time, I hesitantly returned.

That first night back, God slowly broke my hard heart with Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”:

When the sun's shining down on me

When the world's all as it should be

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there's pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out

I'll turn back to praise

And when the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name…

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say, Lord

Blessed be Your name…

I wrestled with the words. Like Jacob, I wrestled with God. I sang and then stopped. I sang and then only mouthed the words--pretending but trying to sing. Then I sang, quietly at first.

God was really there. And he showed up for all of us--my sister, her family, our parents, and myself.

He allowed me to wallow, question and demand; thrash on the floor in a temper tantrum; and yell and raise my fist in his direction. In fact, he seemed to welcome it. At least I wasn’t ignoring him anymore. And I didn’t feel ignored in return.

It was true: “So do not fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

God patiently gave me time. And I needed a lot of it. He just sat beside me, waiting for my trust to return.

God lovingly and gently called me back.

God is not capricious…despite what we feel like at times. God really is “good and good all the time.” And that is not only a matter of fact. It’s also a matter of will, the stubborn decision to believe while holding on with clenched fists and by our fingernails to the truth of God’s love and grace.

I can still see that hole from where I stand. But if I jump (or fall) in again, God will be there with arms reaching out and down to pull me back up.

And I’m happy to report that my strong sister is now cancer-free.