Where Is God When It Hurts?

During the final months of my dad’s life, I learned that God takes care of you even when you think he isn’t taking care of you.

There were many prayers for my dad, and myself, that went unanswered. Prayers for his healing, prayers for his ease of mind, prayers for an easier situation for my dad, as well as for my mom and my sister and I. Those prayers seemed to go unanswered.

But all around the situation seemed to be evidence of God’s care for us in profound ways.

One such incident occurred the day I returned to work after a few days of helping my Mom care for my dad. These few days were some of the lowest points in the slow awful process of his cancer. He had become non-communicative and his attempts to walk and conduct just the most routine of movements had become almost impossible. We were forced to start looking at options for care outside of our own capabilities.

I was beat down and frustrated and helpless. Still, I had to work and fulfill my duties of my job.

A computer in our area was not logging on correctly and the usual fix was to climb underneath the computer station and start to mess with the chords. As I was doing this, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I saw that it was a torn out piece of paper with some words on it. I figured it was just trash and would quickly discard it. But, I did take a look at the writing and noticed these words:

“Cast all of your worries on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Who knows how long that piece of paper had sat there, maybe weeks or maybe even months before I found it. And for me to find it at one of the lowest points of one of the lowest moments of my life was no mere coincidence or good luck. God was providing for me, was encouraging me, and was reassuring me of his great care.

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When my dad died, my wife was out of the country on a mission trip. The care and love that she received from the local believers in Zambia demonstrated that God’s love and provision is available half way around the world. The day he died, 22 girls at a Girl’s Retreat, which my wife help lead, sought and received Christ’s gift of salvation.

In the absence of my wife and her present support, three of the staff members of our church drove 170 miles to attend the funeral. Also, three colleagues at work made a similar trip to demonstrate concern, compassion, and support. Two of my longest and dearest friendships were represented and found me before the funeral to bring me encouragement and comfort.

I could go on and on in demonstrating how God was present and moving during this time.

Sometimes, as we look for God’s big miracles we miss all of the thousands of little miracles all around us. My dad was lost to us too early and under great strain and suffering. There is no denying the awfulness of his disease and what it did to his mind and body. I don’t understand why it was necessary for him to go through all of that and why we had to watch it happen. But in spite of that grim reality, I saw God work. I felt God’s comfort. I experienced God’s provision. I tasted his goodness. God was with me and with my family and with my wife. He never abandoned us.

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

—Frederick Buechner, Godric, 96.

 

When God Came Near

I remember when I first truly felt the comfort of God. When I really had a sense of his presence. It wasn’t during a triumphant worship service or some rousing sermon.

I was a middle schooler, laying in my bed with the lights out. I was dreading the next day like I had dreaded many of the days before this. The guys I hung around with at school, the ones that were supposed to be my friends, constantly criticized me for every imaginable thing I did. They bullied me and made my life miserable. I have always been sensitive, too sensitive, and much of this was too much for me to take. I just wanted this to end.

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In those moments in the dark, God came close and provided deep comfort and reassurance of his love for me. I knew that I was not alone and that life was going to be better because he was with me and believed in me and knew what I was going through. The sense of God’s presence during those times was so unexpected, so right on time, and so needed. When people talk about the reality of God in their life and tell their story of God’s presence, I think of these times, alone in my room.

These are the kind of God moments that strengthen my faith, that encourage me, that inspire me to do and be more; to Grow Up.

I have the knowledge that in my deepest need, God comes close and pours out his love for me.

Do you have that kind of knowledge of God?

 

photo credit: michelle brea

 

Listen To Your Life

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“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Frederick BuechnerNow and Then

As a lifelong Baptist, I am supposed to be wary of spiritual experiences. I am supposed to not be able to trust them as legitimate touches from the one true God. In others, I am supposed to be skeptical if they speak about how God is moving them. I am supposed to think that what they are feeling has more to do with them, and their hangups and need for attention, then it does God’s handiwork. I am supposed to only experience God through scripture reading, sermons, and prayer.  But then I read Buechner, whose writings are filled with admonitions to ‘listen to your life’ and I remember Jesus’ words that he will be with me always, ‘even to the ends of the earth’ and I begin to listen, to ‘touch, taste, and smell  my way to the holy and hidden heart of it.’ What I discover is that I can see God in the abandonment in which my daughter plays soccer, in the twilight breeze that is so welcomed, in the words of a friend who needs help, in the friendship of a spouse, and in words on a page. I have come realize that there is a world touched by God and a holy theater that I largely ignore. I want to change that.

Today, I will be listening to my life and chronicling those holy moments on Twitter. I will be looking out for God and his handiwork throughout my day. If you would like to follow along, then follow me @christlifehack on Twitter.