This is a time for just you and me, God, but I need your help in sweeping away the cloud of litter that swirls across the landscape of my mind. I want a private conversation between just the two of us so that your message for me in these moments will come through clean and clear.
Psalm 146:7b-9 (NRSV)
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
During my middle-school years, a family suspended their missionary work in central Africa so their children could attend a Christian college in our town. We socialized as families, and my brother and their older son became lifelong friends. After college they all returned to their first love, evangelism and support of the people in that beautiful but impoverished country. Some years later the older son died from a tropical disease. A few years after that, his younger sister narrowly escaped being massacred in a war between tribes.
Jump ahead many years to when I had an opportunity to visit the parents who had retired in Arizona. I recorded the conversation to ensure accuracy and document their permission to use it.
I said, “You have been through many, many stressful times, beginning with making bricks to build a place to live, to the terrifying close call that Myra had, the hardships of being away from family years at a time, living in a ‘frontier’ country, and limited finances. Most difficult of all must have been the death of your son, the hardest thing a parent can experience. It’s a tragic event that almost always causes parents to get angry. Were you ever angry about it?”
They seemed surprised by the question, as though it had never come up. “No-o-o,” the father said slowly. “Angry at God? No,” he paused, then said decisively with absolute confidence, even joy, in his voice, “We knew then and we know now that God knew what he was doing; what was best for his work and for us, then and now. Because he loves us!”
Indeed God does love you and me! God’s care is always available; God’s love never fails, no matter what! Rejoice in that fact! Claim what is yours.
God of grace, teach me how to put my full trust in you so that you can work in me. Reshape my attitudes, renew my mind, and rehabilitate my habits. Rebuild me so that I fit the pattern of your son, Jesus, who lives within me and who is my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Go with God.