My Beautiful Plague – Ezekiel 28
No wonder some speak of an Old Testament and a New Testament God.
My eyes follow the litany of plagues and disasters in Ezekiel 28, and I question if this is the God I profess to love.
I read of bloodshed and holiness, of pestilence and glory. I read words that seem to tremble on the page: Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.
Is anyone safe with a God like this?
I think I may be trembling, too. Then, I remember what I have seen, and the fog of confusion and fear lifts: God is who he says.
God is love. Yesterday. Today. And tomorrow.
Ten years ago this month, I lay in a hospital bed and held my baby girl. A precious bundle just the size of my forearm.
My daughter recently wished upon ten candles, but, if I had had my way, she would be a teenager by now. My husband and I were married seven years when she made her entrance. Like the visitation of some Old Testament plague, infertility had been poured into my days.
Today, I call infertility my beautiful plague.
Today, I say with shining eyes, Now I know You are the Lord my God.
Did Sidon deserve the horrors prophesied in Ezekiel 28? Do any of us deserve our diseases or our heartaches? I don’t have the answers to such questions. I do know that the dividing lines we draw between blessing and hardship, gift and punishment have not held up in my own life.
Though some of my past experiences still call out tears and questions, infertility is not one of those. It is my beautiful plague. It was a nightmare and a great gift.
I longed for a daughter. Later, I longed to give her brothers and sisters. Some days the weight of desiring but not having was too much to bear. Those were the worst and most beautiful days. Those were the days I knew I did not bear it alone. Nor did I weep alone.
Words fail, and I can barely gesture towards the experience I have had. But somehow in the suffering and the being comforted, the losing and the receiving, I saw God’s own face. Like Job, I could see the God I had once only heard of.
Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.
I am not here to whitewash the world’s trouble or to claim you have no right to be angry at God.
I am here to say only this: I was given a beautiful plague and the face it revealed to me is precious.
I believe the God revealed in the Word, in the flesh, and in our lived experience is the same. Not divided into Old and New. Not mostly good and a little vindictive. But all Good. All Glorious.
Sometimes, for reasons I cannot fathom, God is revealed to us through terrible circumstances. However, this does not mean he is a terrible God.
Here is something else I believe: the end of our human story, like the end of Ezekiel 28, is not suffering. It is homecoming.
“Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel … they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. … Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” Ezekiel 28:25
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago. She recently traded reading lists and classrooms for a vegetable garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now she writes stories at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.
The chickens move fast and the baby crawls faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she shares it at ChristiePurifoy.com.