Wednesday, November 14, 2012

God of the night

In my 20s and 30s, I tried to be thankful and open to God. I often heard people say, "I'm so grateful for dark days and difficulties. I was scooting through life without thinking about God, but trials have made me aware of His provisions and his presence." I read about "the dark night of the soul" and wonderful saintly experiences of God-with-us during torture and martyrdom.

So I reasoned, "Why invite (or tempt) the coming trials? I want to know and appreciate God in good times so that I never wonder if the ugly days are punishment for my inattention when times were good." After all, I grew up in a holiness church where God rewarded your good behavior with good things and smacked your disobedience with pain worse than Job's.

Since our daughter became ill, we prayed our way through many nights. We sought God's face and depended on His strength for each day. We've found no medical solutions and God has not healed her. We've spent weeks at her bedside, wondering at the pain she endures and God's "heartlessness" at her suffering. I honestly don't feel very grateful during those times or when I see others suffer. I rejoice that God stays close and life is short.

Sometimes I've prayed, "This too is from your hands. You alone could help, yet you choose not to. Give us contentment and endurance in suffering."

I've pleaded, "Hope You know what You're doing. We're in the dark when You are supposed to be the God of Light. If there's 'no shadow of turning' in You, why do we feel like You've turned away?"

Or wept, "Enough already, don't You think?"

Watching reports of famines and floods, or sitting at a hospital bedside, I've even prayed, "Glad You haven't allowed it to be worse. Why don't You just kill us all now. Heaven will be relief from this misery."

The cry of a mother's heart (when I think our child can't bear another surgery or painful day or I can't absorb reports of others' traumas) isn't very rational. It's heartfelt though it may not sound very respectful to outsiders.

God hears us and understands human despair. Jesus prayed, "If it's possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will but thine be done..." If the Son could hardly bear his cross, why would we think it's going to be easy for us?

Others go through "far worse" than we have. However, comparing pain is impossible. If you're in pain, you hurt regardless of what others feel.

I've always known God cares and will get us through the night. However, that doesn't make life easier though the process of loss and grief is simpler: I'm more resigned to human helplessness. I'm quicker to acknowledge, "Here we go again. You're still enough for the day. Whether we live or die, we live or die to You."

I may never look forward to pain as exhilarating closeness with God: "Thank you, God, for what I know about you now. You are more faithful, more wonderful, and greater than I knew." As I age, I seem to have more doubts about God's will to intervene rather than more faith in his desire to rescue His children. I'm more aware of the brokenness of the world and the stamina of humanity. While He is GREAT, He does not keep the storms from breaking down the house. Life seems more incomprehensible than ever.

Especially, I am amazed that people who never think about God in good times have the nerve to blame him for those awful days when you want to rip out your heart and throw it on the sidewalk to say, "Enough. I give up."

This I am sure of: during the bright days, let's celebrate the gifts of sunshine and beauty. I don't want to wait to seek God in times when we're at dead ends or become mired in tunnels of darkness.

Knowing God is Good and that we have received many blessings from His hands helps us to claim Job's confidence: "The Lord GIVES and he takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord." I'm grateful for so many things.

Especially, I'm glad our daughter is coming home for Christmas 2012 without a surgery planned. Though she suffers greatly in Seattle weather, we'll be together. We don't know what the future holds for her or us, but we know Who holds the future.

Read more:
*Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV

*The word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. Psalm 33:4

*[Jesus said,] "At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy." John 16:23–24 NLT

*Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25 NLT

*By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 (NASB)

Moravian Prayer: Steadfast God, we strive to believe but pray for help in our unbelief! Move close to us on those days when we do not feel your presence. We claim your promise that you will be with us to the end. Strengthen our faith. Amen.

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