There were 4 of them ranging from ages 7-14, three beautiful boys and one gorgeous girl. She was not at home the night their dad decided to murder their mother before turning the gun on himself.
She was 5 years old; she went inside a gas station to go to the restroom only to find that her parents left her there. She has lived her entire life wondering what she did wrong to make them leave her.
She told me that her husband was her everything and without any warning he was gone after a complication from surgery, a surgery that wasn’t supposed to be dangerous, it was.
She told me that she was going to beat cancer, and even had a Bible verse that God had given her to prove it. She didn’t beat cancer.
He told me that each hit would be the last time. The only reason the last hit was the last time was because I left him.
All of these things leaves me wondering about God and leaves me questioning His sovereignty. Why couldn’t He just stop any one of these things from happening? Why didn’t He step in? Does He not care?
These questions send me to the only place I know to go and that is the infallible, inspired Word of God. It is the only place I will find Hope. It is the only place I will find Rest. It is easy to question God and it is particularly easy to doubt Him when the hits of life keep coming, one after the other. Truth be told, I have mentioned here just a few circumstances that are close to me, I could easily rattle off many more as I am sure you can too. As I look at the world around me and I look at all of the hurting people I find myself shaking my head a lot. Involuntary tears come as prayer request flood my email, text messages and phone conversations. It seems like everyone I know is hurting in one way or another. I am happy to pray for them, but I find myself in awe of how any of them are walking around and functioning. Some of the pain is so intense that I cannot even imagine how these people are surviving.
And then it hits me.
I was not given Grace to handle their problems; I am only given Grace to handle mine.
“God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1
This verse is one of my favorites and it speaks to the pure sufficiency of the Grace of God. It is a precious promise for all of us, regardless of the heart ache you may be suffering, the loss you may have suffered, the illnesses that won’t go away—we are given our own portion of Grace, but our God is our refuge, ALWAYS. Even when it doesn’t seem like He is listening, and especially when it seems like He isn’t speaking. It’s so hard to trust the refuge when waves are banging up against the rocks sometimes threatening to drown us, or the wind howling fiercely that it shakes us to our core. It is hard to stay in the refuge. It is hard to not run and try to get away from the fears of this life. Because we forget the second part of that verse:
“A very present help in trouble”
He is ALWAYS there in times of trouble. He has me in His embrace when I am afraid of the crashing waves. He shelters me with His wings when the wind is blowing so hard I can barely stand. And this is my God to me, and this is your God to you. I have spent so much of the last few months discouraged by the pain around me, fully forgetting that He is my Refuge and Strength. And He is yours too. If He chooses to not answer our prayers in the way we want Him to answer, He has provided an all-sufficient Grace for each of us to walk through the trials of our lives. That Grace may look different for each of us but the Refuge is the same. Because He never changes!
Then why are we so determined to leave the refuge? It is a valid question and one for each of us to answer on our own. If we could grasp for even one minute the Grace of God and how it gets us through unimaginable pain, what kind of power would we unleash to those around us who may be seeking answers for that hole in their hearts?
The old poem “Footprints” tells the story of two people walking on the beach, one of them is Jesus, and another a man. For much of the trail behind them are 2 sets of footprints. As the man looks down on the event later he notices at times that there are only one set of footprints. The man asked Jesus about it and Jesus simply replied:
“It was then that I carried you”
There are so many times I look back on my life and see one set of footprints. I usually identify it when another person says something to me about the things that have occurred in my life. I look back at those times and I can feel His refuge and His strength, the event doesn’t seem so bad to me.
And I realize it was then that He carried me.
But yet even today I had to remind myself that He is my refuge and My strength and that I don’t have to understand Him. The Bible many times refers to us as sheep. Sheep are interesting creatures. They are, perhaps, the dumbest animals on the planet. So it is comical to me that God would compare us to these animals. But knowing that, it is good for us to remind each other of this incredible fortress that is our God. It is important for us to remember that His Grace is SO sufficient for all of our needs. It is important for us to stay in the protection of the refuge. We get into trouble and cause more pain for ourselves when we decide the refuge is not good enough for us and we feel we can protect ourselves better than He can.
That is where the comparisons to sheep are accurate. We can’t help ourselves! Be encouraged today that while we all could rattle off terrible things that are happening to either us or those around us—our refuge is a Strong Tower. He will NEVER change. And while He may not answer our cries like we wish He would, it is then that He is carrying us.
If we let Him, He will carry us.
“In the distance I can see the storm clouds coming my way, and I need to find a shelter before it starts to rain, so I turn and run to You Lord, You are the only place to go, where unfailing love surrounds me when I need it most. You’re my hiding place safe in your embrace I am protected from the storm that rages. When the waters rise and I run to hide, Lord in You I find my hiding place”
Steven Curtis Chapman