It's been a rough time lately. And lately started back in November when Marissa was hospitalized for a week. Since then, financial difficulties, the stress of potential unemployment with an increased rent, the loss of my beloved pastor, and occasionally sick children have really hammered on me. I'll admit: I've been depressed about all this. Most recently, I've had a poison ivy rash, an itchy straw that has come very close to breaking this camel's back. I even began questioning my faith: Is God really there? Does He hear me? Why do others receive healing when I don't? He must not be real, or at least not the loving Father everyone talks about. The list of doubtful questions went on and on. It hasn't been easy at all. And I've not been reading my Bible, blaming God for all this garbage.
But He is always faithful and has been walking with me through these trials. In my prayers (in truth, furious, frustrated rantings) this past week, I kept hearing a simple response: "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of My word." Over and over again, I heard that. I meditated on it, but only as an angry man does—in mocking, scoffing, shoulder-shrugging disbelief: "Whatever."
This morning, I'd had enough of whatever and actually opened my Bible. I asked God what I should read; He directed me to Psalms 34 and 105. You can read those for yourself, but here's a synopsis. Psalm 34 was written by David after he pretended insanity to escape from an enemy king (1 Samuel 21:10-15 is quite funny!). It discusses the happiness of those who cry out to God and His faithful response. Cry jumped off the page at me because of my thoughts on newborn babies and how they get milk: they cry! Okay, so the baby cries, the loving parent responds with what baby needs, the baby is satisfied. Great, Sean. You saw something that happens in millions of homes around the world multiple times each day—very insightful. Still scoffing. But God was doing something deeper. Psalm 105 recounts much of Israel's history and how God always stayed true to His covenant with Abraham, even when the Israelites didn't stay true to God. Another amazing insight, Sean. Good job.
That's exactly what I've been mad at God about. Where is He in my time of trial? Why isn't He faithful to the covenant He made with me? And then verse 33: vines. Wait. Poison ivy is a vine. Now God has my attention. My heart opens up and I feel God's presence all around me; He never left me! Marissa even said as much when she came into the room to get sunscreen for the boyos: "It's thick in here!" Indeed it was.
I scrambled to find the verse about newborn babes and milk: 1 Peter 2:2. Suddenly, I saw what God was doing in that moment with me. He is that loving parent who faithfully responds when His children, including me, cry out to Him in hunger pains and teary-eyed stress. His Word is the breast milk that satisfies, soothes, and sustains. Then, just like God was tipping His hat and concluding the moment with a giant exclamation point, I read verse 3: "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious," which is very similar, and actually cross-referenced in my Bible, to Psalm 34:8. I need to cry out to God in my distress. And so do you. It's not enough to sit, waiting with "hope" that God will do something. Real hope is an active expectancy, based on God's faithfulness and the covenant He cut through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. Even though God is ever watchful, we must get His attention with a hearty cry. He will respond.
Just in case you're wondering, I still have the poison ivy rash on my body. It still itches—like crazy at times. But I'm no longer mad at God. We're still facing an uncertain immediate future with my job situation. But I'm no longer brooding about it; I have hope. Will the trials cease? Nope. Will they get easier to handle? Only because of a renewed thought pattern that God is indeed faithful to keep and perform His word. I don't know about you, but I can go forward now, knowing that whatever comes my way is something God is more than able and already prepared to handle. I can handle it to.
I pray this blesses you. Let God give you wings.