Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
Participating in my church's prayer chain has both an up side and a down side. It is a privilege to pray to our Lord for those in need and to praise Him when prayers for help or healing are answered. Yet, it breaks my heart to learn of those suffering with an illness or struggling with the loss of a loved one. I always pray they feel God's comforting presence in their afflictions, and know He has not hidden His face from them.
Bad things happen to good people. It's not a matter of if, it's when. Like the psalmist's lament in today's scripture, consumed by our pain and misery, we often feel abandoned by God. How easily we forget that He is the Lord of everything, as attentive to us in our sadness as He is in our joys. It took me a long time to learn that truth.
In March of 1997, my husband, John, died from a freak head injury. I knew he was a strong and faithful Christian, completely grounded in the Lord.
I thought I was, too . . .
What I discovered was I was nowhere strong or faithful enough to bear this unexpected tragedy. In my utter sorrow and devastation, I didn't deny God's existence - goodness knows, I spent countless hours screaming and crying in my anger at Him for taking John away - but I had no sense, no reassurance, that He was plodding through this mire with me.
His face was hidden . . .
My grieving process lasted almost two years. As I healed, slowly and ponderously, there appeared a faint flicker of light in my heart from time to time during my first year of mourning. By the second, the flicker had become a steady glow, growing brighter with each passing day. Hope, long vanquished, crept subtly, stealthily, back into my being. But, it wasn't until the unforgettable split second when joy stabbed my heart like a lightening bolt that I understood.
The Lord had never left my side . . .
He had heard my distress, held my hand through my misery, wept with me in the dark nights of the soul. It was He who offered the hope, who held the joy in His hands, waiting in all patience for the day when I could accept them, completely and unconditionally. It was through His attentive care that my journey of healing embraced a happy ending.
It is said that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger . . .
As excruciatingly painful as my experience was, the end result was a deeper, more abiding, more trusting relationship with God. My faith, once shaken to its roots, emerged as a thriving, blossoming tree. I knew, as never before, the great love God has for me, for John, for all of us.
He never hid His face.
It was I who hid from Him.
Psalms 41, 52 or 44