Ann was just thirteen years old when she and her three siblings came down with the measles. Raised in a quiet rural setting on this Filipino island, though the immunization was free, they never did get the measles vaccine.
And it wasn’t just a simple case of measles. It was serious enough to claim the lives of her two sisters, and to blind both Ann and her 15 year-old brother. The doctor had hopes that he might help Ann to recover some of her vision, but Ann’s parents rejected the treatment, fearful that it might bring even more grief.
A few years later, after the death of both of her parents, Ann moved to the city where she found a job at a blind massage center. She was trained to strengthen her hands to ease the tension from the shoulders of people she could not see. Then Ann got pregnant, and though the responsibility was weighty, the new infant girl was her delight.
Visiting her aunt, Ann left the baby with her for a short time to rest. But while she slept, Ann’s aunt took the 2-week old baby and sold it to another family, believing that Ann in her blindness wasn’t capable of raising the child on her own.
Ann was in despair. She quit attending church, angry and wounded. She married a quiet, stable young man, also partially blind, and found some solace in his care for her, but two years later she’s still struggling with the loss of her baby. She knows the child is living somewhere in another city, but not only will Ann never see her daughter, she will never hold her in her arms again. She says that she finds it so hard to forgive, yet a voice inside tells her that is what she must do.
Ann is now at our local church with her husband, longing for comfort and peace. She’s listening to the book of Job, trying to come to terms with God’s sovereignty and His ability to bring life out of pain.
And though Ann may never be fully comforted in this life, though all of her grief may not be erased, she has a hope that reaches beyond all this. Her hope stems from God’s own searing agony, in willingly sending His own precious Child to a destiny of suffering, appointing Christ to bear the judgment for her sin so that even in her temporary pain, she might never know a day apart from Him.
God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.
– Saint Augustine
Ann trusts in Christ’s work for her. She knows that her sight will one day be restored and her grief will be soothed.
One day, outside of this brief window of time, the rest of us who rest in His grace will also be freed from our own physical pain and our own individual sorrows. Because of that day, we can already by faith, in the midst of pain, praise Him for rescuing us from the domain of darkness through the voluntary sacrifice of His only Son.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.