Our youngest, Charlie, awoke in the night last night having suffered from a nightmare. He wandered through the dark into our room and knelt at my bedside.
“Dad, I had a bad dream.”
“Oh, I’m sorry son. Do you want me to come and lay with you in your bed until you go to sleep?”
We traipsed into his room and he asked me to pray for him so that he could more easily go back to sleep. I did.
As we loaded the plane in Casablanca, Morocco, our young friend, Hillary, who was traveling to Burkina Faso with us, collapsed in a seizure to the floor of the plane. Laura and Wendy raced to Hillary’s side and began to pray. I began to plead with God for His intervention and direction. I was her “Dad” for the trip and needed some guidance quickly. So, I turned to my Father in the crisis, almost without thinking, trying to be strong. Trying to hear His voice over the clamor of the moment.
Upon returning from Africa, all of my family vacated our home for the weekend leaving me alone. As things would go, I came down with a fever and was quite ill, much sicker than I could remember being in a long time. Randal and I laughed about how bad I felt as I made my way to the restroom, sunk to my knees and gave up the contents of my aching stomach. I broke out in a cold sweat and “threw up my guts” (sorry, there was no easy way to put it). In this moment, I remembered our friend Ryan in Burkina Faso who ended up in the hospital while we were there. He had Malaria, Jiardia(?) and some unknown bacterial infection and had spent several days in the hospital after several hours of uncontrollable vomiting. I pleaded with God for the sickness to end and to feel better. I begged Him to relieve me and not to allow the sickness to progress as it had in Ryan.
Isn’t it so very interesting that our difficult circumstances naturally draw out our desire for a Father? Isn’t it interesting that when we land in unexpected troubles we naturally cry out for our Dad? Isn’t it interesting that when we feel the worst is when we seek God the hardest? Our struggles draw us to God. It’s just natural. I would even venture to guess that those who deny God’s existence or at least struggle with the concept also, very naturally, cry out for someone to rescue them whenever things are tough. It’s how we are built. It’s our basic response.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters….He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” Psalm 18:16,19
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, than I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:7-10
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple’…When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” Jonah 2:-4,7
We grope for God in our humanness, in our struggles, in our troubles and He receives us. He lies down beside us and comforts us. He speaks to our hearts and guides us. He wets a wash cloth and wipes our face with cold water. He is love. Love comforts, guides, consoles and strengthens. He is near and His voice is firm and strong and good. He is not always safe. He is always good. In our badness, our struggles, we seek Him and He will not turn away. He will choose to grow us through the difficulties knowing that difficult times breed character and that the pursuit of pleasure breeds hopelessness; however, He will never leave us nor forsake us. As my little Charlie preached to the saints at Sorian, “And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Grace and peace in Christ,