Sometimes in life it can feel like God is absent. There have been seasons in my life when I questioned, “Is God real ?” and if he is real “Where is he? Why is he not helping me?” God is not a tangible being. Depending on my feelings about the mountains that I face, God can seem very distant. On other occasions, I have wondered what was wrong with me. Not when anything really bad was happening in my life, I just felt numb. Times when going through the motions of attending church and other spiritual activities have seemed void. Nothing offered comfort or brought joy. I know I am not the only one who struggles with discouragement, because these thoughts are even reflected in Psalm 42:5 which says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?…”
During one such season of numbness and discouragement in my life, God sweetly spoke to my heart. My youngest son had been born prematurely, and in his first days of life he was struggling to breathe. My husband and I spent endless hours in a NICU unit, holding him. It was a scary time for us, not knowing what the long- term effects of this struggle for oxygen would be on our son’s development. Surprisingly, the time we spent in the NICU was a spiritual mountain top for me. Even though the NICU days were filled with struggle, I could feel God’s presence with me and almost see his healing hand on my new baby. The months that followed were a different story, however. We returned home full of excitement and blessings, but the months of day to day demands began to wear on me. Juggling schedules, preemie midnight feedings, my older sons’ activities (cross country, basketball, academic team…) , laundry, and my return to work became overwhelming. Soon our pediatrician began expressing concerns about the progress of our new baby. Even though our preemie had come a long way since the NICU, he was still not crawling. On any given day, I have a tendency to forget certain milestone moments. In other words, if things come easy we tend to forget unchallenging task. However, I clearly remember the baby of the family, our preemie crawling for the first time. He was ten months old, and the pediatrician told me that if he wasn’t crawling in two weeks’ time we would need to start physical therapy. I was discouraged by this, and the mom guilt began flooding in. Maybe I wasn’t helping him enough?Maybe I wasn’t the best mom for him? It was painful to watch him cry and struggle and I am sure it was also physically painful for him too. I knew what I had to do, push through the pain. My son needed me to let him experience the struggle and to deal with my own discomfort of watching the process. So on one particular day when I was standing a few feet away from him in the living room, and noticed he wanted me, I decided to stay where I was. I could see him struggling to get to me, and it took all the willpower I had not to just go pick him up. With a tear in my eye, I watched this tiny, determined fighter push himself into a crawling position and unsteadily crawl toward me. There were a few falls to his belly, and some tears of frustration on his part. Yet somehow he managed to muster all of his determination and make it to my feet. Crying, he sat himself up on his bottom and put both of his hands up. Without saying a word, he was saying, “Pick me up MOM !!” Elated I scooped him up, and hugged him tight, praised his efforts, and comforted him in his pain from the struggle. In my heart I could hear God whisper to me, “that is all you have to do, reach for me” Instantly, I could feel my heavenly father embracing my soul. There are so many spiritual lessons I took from this experience.
- We get so caught up in focusing on our struggles and problems that we lose focus on the comforter.
- When things are easily accomplished, we take success for granted. But when things are hard fought, even though there was pain in the progress, the victory is so much sweeter. True triumph comes after a struggle.
- We need to struggle to grow. If I had interfered and never let my baby struggle in the pain of learning to crawl it would have only delayed his progress.
- God is always there, much like me watching the struggle a few feet away. I may not feel like he is helping, it may not seem like he is not watching, but he is. In fact he is cheering on our progress, encouraging us when we try, and ready in an instant to pick us up. All we have to do is lift our hands up.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:4-7
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
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