I've been re-reading a series of books lately by one of my favorite authors, Dee Henderson. One particular book, The Guardian, centers on a man who, as a young child, lost his mom to pneumonia and, as a result, decided God was not worth talking to. He had prayed desperately day and night for his mom to get better, and she had died. So he stopped praying and stopped believing. Decades later, in his job as U.S. Marshal, he meets a lady whose father and brother were shot by the same man who shot a judge. Her brother made it through surgery, but her father died a day or so later. Her faith remained strong through this, even though she struggled with the age-old question of "Why, God?" She is instrumental in helping the marshal regain his faith and trust in an all-powerful, all-loving God Who hears each prayer we utter.
She makes the argument that, for some, prayer means telling God, "Whatever You decide is what I'll accept," and she had for a long time thought she was supposed to have only that kind of faith in prayer. She felt guilty and sinful when she was passionate in her prayers, asking God for what she specifically wanted---like her father's life---while still accepting that He is in control at all times. She realized through.......you guessed it.........prayer and reading God's Word that God does not expect us to simply lie down and be carpet under His almighty feet. God wants us to ask for what we desire when we pray and trust Him to provide what is best. But to do that, we must have a previously established relationship with Him, one founded on His Word, a knowledge of His character, and a firm belief that God is good and right no matter the circumstances, be they good or bad. And we must always keep in the front of our minds the conviction that He loves us and knows what is best and what we can handle. If we do not have this solid relationship with Him, we won't be able to trust Him through dark days. We will have the tendency to praise God when it's sunny and life is comfortable and bitterly question Him when things go awry or disappointment comes. And, unfortunately, we may even turn our backs on Him when tragedy strikes, believing Him to be unfair, uncaring, and capricious.
I read an interesting bit of Scripture this morning in Luke 4: 25 - 27. Jesus is talking to a multitude in Nazareth who, having heard of great signs and wonders being done in Capernaum, wanted Jesus to perform miracles there too. Jesus tells them in verses 25 - 26, "But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias (Elijah), when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta (Zarephath), a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow." Remember this? Ahab was wicked, had married a wicked woman (Jezebel), and had caused all Israel to do wickedly. So God sent a drought---no rain for three years and six months! God then sent Elijah to a certain widow who, when the prophet showed up, was literally preparing to die. She was gathering two sticks to build a tiny fire to bake one last cake of the last of her meal so that she and her son could each have a few bites; after that, they would just starve to death. Elijah, in what would seem great callousness of heart, said, "Go ahead, but bake me a cake first." I'm sure her face must have shown absolute astonishment until he explained that God would not allow the barrel of meal to waste (go empty) or the cruse of oil to fail (run dry) until the day the Lord sent rain upon the earth. Why didn't God send Elijah to every widow in Israel? Why didn't God save every starving widow? I don't know; I'm not God. But I know God's character. He is love; He is love; He is love. He cares more deeply for each of us than we with our limited vocabulary and finite minds could express. His choices may not always be comprehendible to us, approved by us, or appreciated by us.......but they are always loving, wise, and right. We can rest in that.
Then, in verse 27, Jesus reminds them, "And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian." How come God didn't heal all lepers? How come God chose to let Elisha help Naaman, who wasn't even a Jew? Again, I don't have the answer to that. I cannot claim to understand God's reasonings in my own life, much less that of someone else's. But "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12). God is good and true and just and merciful and right and loving and listening and understanding and pure and holy..........and God. If we are going to believe at all, we may as well believe all the way.
Does this sound like I'm preaching? I don't mean it to! I've just been thinking a lot on this subject lately and have come to the conclusion that God's conclusions are far beyond me. It is my lot simply to trust; I'll leave the hard decisions to His infinite wisdom. I have peace that way, leaning on Him throughout every day, choosing to trust Him no matter what before the trials come. That way, I don't have to try to make that decision in the midst of tragedy or hardship when my heart is pounding and my brain is in a whirl and I can't see up from down. He is God, and I trust Him.
If you were concerned that all this was leading up to a bad report, I'm sorry to have worried you. We are all fine, though somewhat tired from having stayed up too long watching fireworks and stuffed with multiple hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Chad decided to grill the corn this time, and, I have to admit, it turned out pretty good. He then wanted to douse it in butter and Parmesan cheese "like they have at the Fair." (This is a reference to our super-fun Puyallup Fair each September.) I tried some with those two condiments but didn't care for it much, so I used my old standbys: butter and salt. The grill gave the corn a slight popcorn flavor which was interesting. We had our main meal around 2:30 p.m.; this left us full enough to last through church that night! When we got home after the service, we enjoyed watermelon and some fun fireworks in our backyard. Those "snakes" are just plain creepy! The smoke bombs were a big hit (no pun intended!) but made breathing difficult for a while. Eventually, Dad and Dale went inside to go to bed; Dad had to get up for work in the morning, and Dale had just had a late night the night before when we went to Eatonville to see their big fireworks display. I told the girls they could stay up until midnight, then sent them to their beds. I stayed up reading before turning in around 1:30 a.m. Just before I headed up the stairs, some numb-skull set off what sounded like a cherry bomb. It's kind of hard to sleep when you're wondering if you'll be jolted out of slumber by the apparent end of the world! But, it's only once.......or twice.......or more.......times a year, and it's in celebration of our Independence Day, so I guess it's worth it! :-)
Dale was walking great today. We strolled down to the front entrance of our neighborhood and back to our house for Dale's exercise; today, this took about twenty minutes. Dale started out well but kept pausing after five steps, then seven steps, then nine. He eventually hit a record of 22 steps in a row without pausing! When we got back to the house, we climbed in the van for a quick trip to the neighborhood park. (I know; I know! We could have walked, but neither Dale nor I wanted to walk anymore in the heat.) Once there, Katie and Ashley began a sort of obstacle course challenge with the equipment. Dale wanted to get on the bouncer, so I told him to go ahead. He walked, hesitantly at first on the beauty bark covering the playground but gaining confidence as he went along, to the bouncer and stepped up with little trouble. He enjoyed bouncing for a few minutes; then I challenged him to try the slide. It's not very big---just the right size for a challenge. Dale stepped up the ladder easily (I was behind him), adjusted himself to sit down at the top without falling back down the ladder, and slid down the short slope! Katie and I were at the bottom to catch him just in case, but he didn't need our help. He then asked to go on the swings. This required walking across the uneven surface to the far side of the playground to reach the swing set, carefully backing up to the swing, and even lifting up on his tiptoes a bit in order to get his bottom in the seat properly. Dale did this like a pro, not needing my help at all! His rhythm while swinging was beautiful to see. Alison (PT) had been working with him on this, but Dale's swinging today was the best I've seen him do yet. When it was time to get off, I expected Dale to stop the swing, carefully put his feet on the ground, and gingerly stand up. Nothing doing! Dale casually slid out of the swing after allowing the swing to slow slightly. (Wow! That last sentence is a tongue-twister!!!) When I expressed surprise at his dismount, he had the gall to say, "Well, Mom, I've done this a lot before." I retorted, "You've been walking a lot before, too, but it still causes you trouble!" He had to acknowledge my point.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! We have a wonderful God, a loving Saviour, a constant companion in the Holy Spirit, and an abundant life. Amen!
I John 4: 10 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."