For What Didn't Happen...

If you lived in a Christian household in the late '80s, chances are you heard this Amy Grant lyric a time or two: 

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.

(from "Angels", by Amy Grant) 

Perhaps it was this sentiment that permeated into both Katherine and my psyches at a young age.  This notion should be deeply affecting to all of us--that we are actually spared many more pains than we will ever know by the mysteriously merciful hand of God working in our lives.  Perhaps we all know this reality, but if we truly embraced it, wouldn't our response to suffering be more tempered with gratitude for all the things that didn't happen to us, instead of an all-encompassing "why me"?  Wouldn't the posture of our every day lives be lived, not just waiting for the shoe to drop or in blissful ignorance, but overflowing with more gratitude? 

A few weeks ago, as I was driving Katherine to a morning therapy session, a major thoroughfare was completely shut down, multiple firetrucks, loads of police, and even what looked like an 18-wheeler, tour bus of some kind.  Let's just say it wasn't Amy Grant's tour bus stopping the traffic, rather it was the bomb squad.  A mile from our house.  As it turns out, 17 pipe bombs were uncovered at an apartment on that block (not sure how this didn't make national news, btw). 

In the wake of Newtown and even the Boston Marathon bombing, it wasn't hard to immediately conjure the worst-case scenarios, particularly involving the neighborhood school James attends.  Needless to say, we squeezed him extra tight after school that day and breathed an uneasy sigh of relief.  17 pipe bombs found in a Culver City apartment--not Fallujah, mind you--Culver City.  Yet this is the world we all live in.

Perhaps the most amazing and comforting part of the story...the bomb-maker was uncovered during a routine traffic stop the night before, perhaps for an expired license plate or the like.  Of course, a gun, drugs, and an explosive device were found in the car, prompting the search of his apartment.  "A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way", indeed.

Just to hammer this point home for us, the Lord allowed another such "near-miss" to come to our attention. 

My cell phone rang, and an auto-mated voice from Costco was on the line informing me that a bag of organic frozen berries I recently bought was being recalled due to a Hepatitis-A outbreak linked to this product.  Already, several people had gotten sick from these berries over a 5 state radius, including in Los Angeles County.  Of course the irony is that we were all trying to be more healthy by buying the ORGANIC berries!

My heart sank as I rememberd James literally scarfing those the day before.  I went into mini-medical emergency mode and began consulting Dr. Google (not always a good choice, admittedly).  Then, I called our real doctors and dug up our immunization records.  THANKFULLY, we had all been immunized fairly recently for Hep-A.  What's really cool--Katherine and I were both immunized preceding our mission trip to Africa in 2006. 

If we have eyes to see it, God gives us glimpses of how He is working and weaving all these disparate threads together for goodness, deep, sometimes life-saving goodness. 

If your heart has been hurt by the circumstances of your life, know that you are not alone, but today, be changed by the experience of gratitude, knowing that this life you have been given is good because God is.  He has permitted certain pains, but He has spared you from far more than you could ever begin to comprehend, neither as a punishment nor as a reward but as a means in which to more fully understand His grace.