I'm a "glass is half-full" kind of girl. Always have been. But, lest anyone reading my blogs gets the wrong idea and thinks me "Polyanna", let me tell you about this week. It was a dark one.
Audrey's heavenly birthday came and went, and neither my husband nor I could make much positive out of it. Despite our confidence in Heaven, we were just plain sad. And mad. And, we didn't feel hopeful. Then, just a few days later, an ugly consequence of my husband's infidelity hit us like a ton of bricks. An extended family conflict arose that deeply injured us both and reopened wounds that had only begun to scab over. I have to tell you, I could not see God in it all for several days. I couldn't pray. And, if I could, I certainly could not hear God's voice in response or feel His presence. It was the purest pain I've felt in a long time.
The reality is that most of us reach a place in our lives when it is nearly impossible to see God at work. A friend emailed me to ask advice about comforting a family who was getting ready to face the first anniversary of their son's death. The husband, she said, had been struggling with anger, and the wife with depression and sadness. The husband had hoped that his faith in God would have grown in the past year, but in fact, the opposite had been true.
Where is God when we can't feel him or see him? What does he think of us when our faith in him seems so small? Let me propose something radical: Small faith is better than dead faith. If you're still talking to God, your faith is not dead. God can work with very little faith and do very big things. Failing to hear from God immediately, failing to sense his presence, and experiencing the darkness of pain does not indicate that God has abandoned us or is displeased with us.
In fact, I think we can express our deepest anger, doubt, and fear to God without worrying he will give up on us. About a year after my husband confessed his sexual sin, he succumbed to an internet temptation while he was traveling. At the time, I thought it was more grave than it was, and I had found out about it through my credit card company. To make matters worse, I could not reach him by phone for four hours. I was literally planning how I was going to be a single mom. It was another dark day. I distinctly remember yelling at God out loud, "How could you let this happen to me when I trusted you? I don't even know if you exist!" And I meant it.
I had barely uttered the last angry word when my phone rang. It was my friend Julie. "Something is wrong with you," she said. "I am driving in my car and God told me to pray for you. Is everything ok?" I was speechless. In this simple gesture, God showed me He does, in fact, exist. It didn't solve my problem, but I dissolved in a puddle of tears just knowing that God had not abandoned me.
You see, the moment we call on him, God dispatches his armies to fight on our behalf. Sometimes we find out about it quickly, like I did when my friend Julie called. And, sometimes, we have to wait in darkness to see God at work, like I did this week. But, my friend, make no mistake: Either way, he is at work! Look at Daniel 10.
An angel of the Lord comes to Daniel with a message: Whew! Sorry it took me so long to get here! You know, the second you cried out to God, he heard you, and he sent me. But, I got kind of tied up fighting some battles in the spiritual realm for you. I had to call Michael for back-up. And, I am just now getting here to give you this message: Don't be afraid. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.
I don't know about you, but this speaks to me! When I'm walking down a long, dark tunnel and it has been a while since I've seen through a window of clarity, I can be sure God is fighting for me!
Take heart! To those who call on the Lord and believe (even just a little) the message is coming. The messenger may be delayed. But, the message is coming. "Peace. Everything is going to be all right."