A couple nights ago, Sam wanted to ride his bike down by the river.
I was shocked, but I tried not to show it.
"Great!" I said, and whispered a thank you prayer in my head. "Maybe your dad and I will go with you. Tanner could use a walk anyway."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Mom. You don't have to come. It's not like it's going to happen again. That'd be crazy. Besides, I just want to see if my blood is still there. I bet it is. It was everywhere."
It really was.
Last Sunday afternoon, Sam had a massive wreck down on the river path.
He and his dad had gone for a leisurely bike ride, and as they rounded a curve, a little boy stepped onto the path. Sam swerved to avoid hitting him, flew over the handlebars, and skidded on his side and arm across the asphalt into a bank of dirt and rocks.
It was bad.
Sam is my careful boy. His older brother Ben could lead The Ramsey Family Tour of Emergency Rooms of the East Coast and France, but in Sam's eleven years, he's never broken a bone. He's never had a single stitch.
Sam was screaming, writhing in pain. Rocks and pebbles were embedded in his arm, until Todd jumped off his bike, and in his shock, brushed them off. More blood started gushing. Sam saw the holes and began to panic.
"I hate God!" he shouted, as Todd wrapped his shirt around his arm. "Why did He let that happen? Why? He could have stopped it! I hate Him! I hate Him!"
Luckily, Todd had his cell phone. I met them at the edge of the path. As Todd put the bikes in the back of the van, I tried to calm Sam down.
"It'll be okay," I said. "We just need to get you cleaned up, and it'll heal just fine."
"CLEANED UP?" Sam screamed. "You're not putting anything on it! And I'm never riding that bike again. Or coming down here either!" He began to cry again. "Why did God let that happen? I pray all the time and He never listens."
I let Sam go on, saying what he needed to say, wincing at his crying out to God. Wishing I could make it better.
I wanted to tell him, "God didn't put that little boy in your path. He didn't look at his watch and time it that way, just to teach you that you can survive this." But I didn't say that. He needed to cry it out. Spread his pain before God.
I'm aware that some people believe that God sends hardships to test them this way. We lose people we love, we suffer great disappointments in life and grieve over losses. Personally, I don't believe God sends these things.
A little child wanders into a bike path. Bad things happen.
But God can help us navigate the pain. And as God helps us heal, as God absorbs our cries and our prayers, God can write His own story into our story. He can draw us nearer until we feel His embrace. Thankfully, God can help us heal.
It's remarkable to me how the human body heals. And the spirit too.
"It takes some courage to get back on the bike," I told Sam as he strapped on his helmet.
"I guess," Sam shrugged. "Really, Mom, it's silly for you to go."
But Todd and I followed anyway, claiming that we needed the exercise, trying to make ourselves believe that's why we were going.
The walk started fine.
Sam would ride ahead, circle back to us, and go again.
But then he didn't circle back. Where was he? Surely something hadn't happened.
It started to get dark on the trail, and we walked faster. Where was he?
We started getting nervous, calling out his name. What had happened?
Finally, when we were on the brink of panic, Todd's cell phone rang.
"What is there to eat in this house?" Sam asked.
He had finished the trail and ridden home.
After Todd and I returned home and finished ranting about how scared he'd made us, and that he should have told us he was going home, Sam said he was sorry. Then bit his lip, the way he always does before he reveals something important.
"I have to tell you, I was a little scared too. It was getting dark, but I just prayed the whole way. God helped me go fast."
Thank you, God. For healing of all kinds.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you feel okay about getting angry with God when bad things happen? What do you think about how God tests and teaches us? Would God send us pain, or just work through it with us? We can really learn from each other, so I hope you'll share.
Have a wonder-full weekend, y'all!
PS. I just remembered that Beki over at The Rusted Chain is doing her Fingerprint Friday, a blog party to celebrate the presence of God's fingerprints in our lives. I suppose this post qualifies--thank goodness for God's fingerprints even in our pain--so I'm jumping in. Hop over here to find more fingerprint treasures!
*Photo by K. Praslowicz (Sjixxxy), creative commons