With our finite, limited vision we can barely understand how the one tiny little sliver that we can see intersects with a few of the other things that are going on around it, never mind all the millions of ways, seen and unseen, that any one event impacts on and interrelates with all the other things going on around it.
Three years ago almost to the day, on 18 May 2018, I posted an article with the same title as this one about a baby in our congregation born very prematurely. His name was Wilfred Clarke, born to Joel and Hannah at just 27 weeks. Following his premature arrival he suffered many serious problems, the most serious of which was a bowel infection that required surgery. Miraculously, by the grace of God, he survived and the Lord has continued to sustain him through many ups and downs since. He is awaiting another major operation in the next few weeks or months. You can hear his mother Hannah speaking about their experience here.
The reason for today’s article is that in the inscrutable plan of God Joel and Hannah have just this week had another premature baby. Mabel Cordelia Clarke (pictured above) was born on Wednesday morning weighing 1 lb 8oz, just under 26 weeks old. So far she is in critical condition, struggling with breathing and receiving the maximum amount of care that is medically available.
Why does God allow this to happen? Surely Joel and Hannah and their family have been through enough? Why make them relive the same nightmare over again – and who knows how things will turn out this time?
Knowing Joel and Hannah and the strength of their faith, I don’t think they would say anything different than all that they said about their experience with Wilfred. Because the Lord hasn’t changed. His goodness, his power, his wisdom, his mercy, his knowledge haven’t diminished in any way since this time three years ago. All the truths in his word that Joel and Hannah believed last time around are still just as true this week – just as true as they were when they were first written in Scripture many centuries ago.
And so I thought I would repost the article I wrote on Wilfred, simply replacing his name with Mabel’s, to remind us of these same truths that were true then and are still true now, whatever the outcome of Mabel’s struggle might be…
A situation like this one inevitably prompts God’s people to reflect on the mystery of his sovereign purposes. We don’t doubt his power to control all things – he determines all that happens (Isa 45.7) – and we know he is good and kind and gracious. If we – who are far from perfect – wouldn’t let a child suffer, why would God permit this to happen?