Monday, October 24, 2011

Hide and Seek

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
Zechariah 1:7-17
Revelation 1:4-20
Matthew 12:43-50


  1. Martha when we come to that point in life where we experience truly every emotion possible and when we are completely empty of feeling anything else.... is when we slowly begin to see that flicker....
    We become so involved or caught up in our emotions that we forget about the light.....I have found that this process is there for a reason. We are taken to such depth within us... we are shown what we are capable of feeling and ridding it so that we may heal again...

  2. I did not know that. Thank you for sharing that story. Stories like yours help provide a frame of reference for us when those tragedies happen in our own lives.

    Out of bad, comes good, for those who love God. That is a promise on which we can all depend. Your experience confirms that promise.

    Thank you again.


  3. Hi Martha:
    Reading your post today reminded me of the Move Oh God Book II. In it the little girl who is at the center of the movie asks God where there is suffering.

    God answers something to the effect of:
    If there is no suffering how will you know joy. Life is about opposites. God goes onto say he hasn't been able to discover a way to create one without creating it's opposite.

    No night without day
    No joy without sorrow
    No cold without hot
    and so on.

    And as you may know, I sincerely believe in predestination, that certain major aspects of our lives are long mapped out by God. Our birthday and our transition day have been scheduled long before we incarnate each time.

    Our transition should be a celebration. For more of what I believe no; for more of I KNOW, I welcome you and your readers to check out these columns I've written on this subject:


    God is with us ALL the time, Martha.
    God listens to all of our prayers and he answers all of our prayers. It's just that sometimes that answer is no. When HE says no, HE is simply paving the way for something better to come our way. If we can remember that, our lives will be so much more fruitful. I understand how difficult it is to think this way when we are in the middle of a storm. But God always navigates our way. HE is the ultimate navigator. We just have to remember this.

  4. The loss of my sister, gone but never forgotten, was the catalyst to me making huge changes in my life. I set out to create a difference, in her name, to ensure her journey and trils, weren't for nothing. You Martha are another extraordinary woman, who is allowing your journey to help others enjoy theirs more comfortably.

  5. Great post, martha. thanks for the words today.

  6. Marth!!
    The fruit of your salvation was that you never stopped talking to God, even while you screamed at Him! The great thing about what you have done here is you helped numerous people learn how to handle this, by your gracious words and by loving Jesus. All He asks is you stick it out with Him and stick with Him. Am really happy to see you did! Wish you had been at this weekends most inspiring bible conference with me! Am pretty deep in the Faith and it continues to blow me away.... Blessings my sister! Soli Deo Gloria!

  7. Wow, everyone! Thank you for sharing such wonderful, inspiring comments here today.
    @Savira - And, it is a process! We do have to go to the depths before we see how shallow we have been with life and ourselves.
    @Hank - Yes, all things work for good in God's time and will!
    @Chris - I love your image of the opposites; so true! How can we fully appreciate joy when we've never known sorrow? I will be sure to check out the posts you left here soon!
    @Larry - Thank you for the encouragement, Larry! I believe we are all called by God to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We all have different gifts and ways we go about it. That's a blessing!
    @Ann - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read today's devotion!
    @Bernie - Looking back, I feel badly about yelling at God; thankfully, He is a "Big Boy" who can take all our rantings and ravings with a grain of salt and continue to love us. Thank you for your compliments and comments!

    Blessings to all!

  8. I have had so many losses Martha, through death as well as through relationships gone bad. Every ending is like a death. I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I have stopped asking god "why", instead I ask him to give me strength to face anything that comes my way and believe me he has never failed me. I am so happy that you found in HIM a relationship and bonding that is incomparable

  9. Oh, Rimly, what a beautiful sentiment you have expressed here! Like you, I no longer ask why, but give me the strength and courage, Lord, to carry on for You. And, yes, there is no relationship greater than the one we have with Him.

    Thanks so much for stopping by today!


  10. Wonderful post Martha. So true.

  11. Thank you, Janu, for stopping by today!


  12. Very touching post. It can be very difficult to maintain our focus on God when all the world around us shakes and quakes. I am so sorry for the loss of your late husband. It brings me joy , though, knowing you have a strong faith and relationship with God now.

  13. I've had conversations with people over the years who had negative experiences with faith/religion and who declared that the process of prayer is a negative thing. That it indicates doubt and lack. I've never been able to agree with that thought. I've always found prayer to be beautiful, both for the person receiving prayer and the person offering the prayer. Your story was sad to read, because we never want to learn of someone going through such a heart wrenching experience, but it was also a story of strength. I'm happy you've made it through the darkest moments and that you've found your way back to walking in sunlight. I also realize that occasional clouds from that past grief will visit here and there. By sharing your story, there is no way of knowing how many hearts you'll touch, who you may help through their own dark days. Brava to you for taking this step. Your Life Stripes shine beautifully.



  14. Ohhh I am so sorry to hear of your pain..but am so glad that you could go back to God and find joy..I am no where near that..I am angry at him and my fists are raised i feel abandoned by him..and there is a hole where he used to be.....thank you for sharing..As always...XOXOXOXO

  15. Thank you, Jessica, Dawn, and Bonnie, for stopping by!
    @Jessica - It was quite a journey, but God made me so much stronger and more faithful with every painful step. We all go through trials and turmoils without exception. It's good to know He is always there.
    @Dawn - Oh, I do so hope that my words touched other hearts today! Telling my story wasn't easy; there were many tears. But, it was time, God said, and I took the step. As for prayer? I had people praying from here to kingdom come for John's healing. It didn't happen. What did, though, was the strength and support I felt knowing others cared enough about him and about me to go directly to God. That is a blessing I will never forget.
    @Bonnie - He's a Big Boy, Bonnie; He can take every bit you dish out and love you the more for it. I pray that hole you feel will be healed and filled by His presence in time. Just remember, even when you can't feel Him, He is there . . .

    Blessings to you all!

  16. Martha, what a poignant and powerful story…
    God is with us in the dark night, and everywhere at all times.

    Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
    If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
    If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
    even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

    I hope you’ll publish this elsewhere. *wink*

  17. Martha, beautifully written. You must be very strong to have gone through that. Your blog and Corinne's blog has spoken to me. I am in a place where I have almost given up. Things have been happening to me like what happened to JOB. I have asked myself, " Why does bad things happen to good people." I have lost faith that goodness will follow after this life storm.
    Thank you for sharing! Blessings!!

  18. Thank you, Debra and Cathy, for taking time to stop by and leave such tremendously thoughtful comments.
    @Debra - I just read this Psalm a few days ago. It reminds me of a song we did in children's choir years ago entitled "Where Can I Go" -
    "Where can I go, where can I hide, if I should become the night; you will raise your mighty hand and bring me back to light." Taken, of course, from this very psalm.
    Do you think it's long enough to qualify for the blink let alone the wink? :)
    @Cathy - I am so sorry to hear how difficult and oppressive life has been for you recently. Be of good courage! Have faith! It is always darkest before the dawn.
    I am not strong by myself, only in God. That was the most powerful lesson I learned in this time of grief when I, too, wanted to give up. Believe He is with you, even when you can't feel His touch. Know how much you are loved!
    Goodness will and does follow the storm like the rainbow . . .

    Blessings to you both!

  19. Amen, Martha – where can we go where he is not? So high above our ways and so near. I'm thankful for him, not letting go of me when I struggled hard against him – I thank him for his patience. And Martha, there is no pain worse than the loss of one that you're married to – I don't know from experience but I know what all the psychology says. I'm surprised it was only two years. But look at you now – I'm glad you didn't let go – I'm glad you held on. God bless and keep you Martha – and God bless each and every one of yours.

  20. Thank you for your kind words, Craig, and for taking the time to stop by!
    I'm so glad He never let go of you or me; we are, in this, so blessed!
    Jesus never said life would be easy, but He promised to walk with us through every twisty, gnarly, heart-rending turn. I had to learn His promise the hard way; but, I'll never forget it . . .
    Blessing always to you and yours, too!

  21. Martha, thank you for sharing as authentically as you always do. I am sure John is looking down on you with a lot of pride.
    As I was reading your post, I thought of what is the best way we comfort friends in times of grief..we stand by them and let them grieve..always around if they need us, but never forcing ourselves upon them. Doesn't that sound a lot like God - our best Friend? :) Love and blessings...


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