Thursday, May 17, 2018

When God Says "No"

When my friend Regina sent me this account this week, I asked if I could share it with you. I can relate to the questions that Regina asks. I know this was a difficult story for Regina to recall, but sometimes the process of writing out our painful questions can help us see the truth. 

When God says “No”
Regina Martin, Peru

“What’s that for, Mommy?” Sonny bumped my elbow, jabbing a dirty finger at the huge white poster spread on the table.

“I’m drawing a picture, see? I’m not drawing much, just some scenery. We will fasten this to the wall by your bed after your surgery next week. Each day you can put some stickers on it from that roll of stickers Emily sent for you.”

“Ooooh. That will be fun!” Sonny exclaimed.

“I will also have a box of ten little packages for you, to open one each day you’ll have to stay in bed.”

“Wow!” My five-year-old was thrilled. “How soon is the surgery?”

Bless his heart, I thought, he’s looking forward to this more than his parents are!

Sonny had been born needing two corrective surgeries. “No hurry,” we were told, “but preferably before he is five.”

The first surgery, done when he was three years old, was a success. We rejoiced. The twenty-some trips to the government Children’s Hospital in the city several hours away and the many hours standing in lines had not been in vain.

The second surgery was a failure, hence the need for a third. 

The past three years we had invested much time and money on his behalf; both rare commodities for self-supporting missionaries. This was our son; we loved him and would gladly spend and be spent for him. Yet at times the realities of another day away from home, finding a baby-sitter, and jumping through hoops in the medical world, were overwhelming. 

I unloaded to the Lord, knowing He would understand and not scold me for complaining. What are you trying to teach us, Lord? Did you send us on the mission field to spent our time and money doing this? Wouldn’t it be much more worthwhile to spend our time at home with the children or witnessing to the lost?

Surgery at government hospitals in Latin America are preceded by a gamut of appointments and tests. Hubby quickly gained knowledge of hospital bureaucracy and became adept at Pulling Strings and Making Connections. But still, inefficiency was the rule. After completing all the tests for the second surgery, doctors nation-wide went on strike for six months. By the time they were working again, the tests had expired. There was nothing to do but repeat the process.

Repeat we did. And now we stood at the threshold of his last surgery, anxious to get this behind us before the birth of our sixth child. This time, we felt hopeful. We had prayed; we had asked for prayer. Surely God would grant healing.

The ten days of bed confinement following surgery were hard for Sonny, but he faced life with his typical optimism. Each day he added stickers to the poster; each morning he opened a package containing a toy. At times he complained of pain or awoke at night, crying. His bandage became soaked. Worried, we called the surgeon.

“Oh, he should be fine. Don’t touch the bandage, just bring him in when the ten days are up. Give him stronger pain meds when he complains.”

We obeyed. Ten days after surgery found us back at the Children’s Hospital, eager for the bandage to be removed.

“Just imagine,” I marveled to Hubby, “we might never, ever set foot inside this place again!”

Our appointment with the surgeon was scheduled for early afternoon. After a full morning of business in the city, I was exhausted. Just this doctor’s visit yet, the most important event of the day, and we could go home.

The surgeon removed the soaked bandage. His forehead furrowed. We didn’t need told; the answer was obvious. Infection had set in. It was ugly.

“I’m sorry,” he stated simply. “It looks like we did something wrong here. We’ll need to repeat the surgery. And since this is the second unsuccessful attempt, next time we’ll keep him hospitalized after surgery.”

I could scarcely speak around the lump in my throat. No! I wanted to scream. This can’t be true! We go through all this, and you just say ‘Oops, we messed up. Try again’?!

We headed home but hadn’t gone far until Sonny was in tremendous pain. I had reached my limit. While Sonny screamed and I sobbed, Hubby made phone calls. To the surgeon, to a trusted medical friend. A stop at a pharmacy, a pill, and prayers eventually calmed his pain.

His mother’s pain was not as easily assuaged. In the days ahead, I struggled. Where was God? Why hadn’t He answered our prayers for a successful surgery? Couldn’t He have worked on our behalf in spite of faulty doctors?

He didn’t answer glibly; he didn’t hand me a pill to pop. Perhaps I will never know why; perhaps I will have a chance to ask Him in person over in glory. If it will even matter anymore.

I do not know why God permits hard things, but I have a guess. 

In the easier times of life, I praise God for what He gives: daily provisions, delightful surprises, amazing answers to prayer. But it is during the hard times that I learn most of who and what He is. And I am not sorry for what I have learned.

Because the most precious lesson has been simply this: He is good. All the time.

Regina lives on a citrus farm nestled in a valley along Peru's coast. Her days are filled with being a help meet to her best friend, mom to her six children, and a friend to those God brings to her door. Writing and editing are stress relievers for spare minutes or sleepless night hours. She can be contacted at siervadeirey


  1. Sometimes I think it's just life unfolding. I think God is there, watching, knowing, and he promises to give good after something bad, but I don't think He makes a choice to let a child suffer. Or a person, young or old. I think that's just sin, it's the world we live in. God is gracious enough to offer good from the bad we experience. If I view God as making the hardship happen, I could not be a believer - I simply have had too much happen. I said yes to God several years ago and life has been awful. I came to realize sometimes things happen, just because, but thankfully I have a promise of good waiting at the end. I'm sorry to hear your child has had so many surgeries, especially when it shouldn't have been necessary. I know not only is there a physical discomfort for him, but can also be a psychological one. I hope there is not, and the next surgery is successful. :)

    1. I too believe that the pain in this world was not designed by God but is a result of the curse of sin. And for some reason, even though God is all powerful, He doesn't always remove the results of sin. But He does carry us through it. Which is what Regina has shared.

  2. Regina, I hope your son's next surgery is successful and by all means stay by his side in the hospital. Don't be afraid to ask questions or make observations.Two heads are better than one. We have to walk through suffering but God gave us common sense. May God hold your fdamily in His hands.

  3. Yes, God is good, all the time! Praying for Regina's son and their whole family. Praying for their doctors and hospital staff.God bless them all!

  4. Thanks for sharing Regina's story, Gina. I do hope that her son's condition improves quickly. What a lesson to learn!

  5. It may seem that we have great faith and is a confirmation of our faith when our prayers are answered with a yes. But when God says, "No," it takes great faith to keep believing in who he said he is. And that His promises are still true for us... God bless you.


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