August 14, 2012
Dear God, Where Are You?
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
"Mom, I didn't make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God."
I felt my daughter's deep hurt as clearly as if it were my own. I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door closed. That opportunity slipped away.
She had been talking about trying for this special achievement at summer camp for 3 years. But she wasn't old enough to try until this year, her 4th year at camp.
She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight ... until it was time for her to light a large campfire with only three matches, one small square of newspaper, and a few sticks of wood.
She struck the first match and held it to the newspaper but it didn't ignite. She struck the second match and held it to the newspaper. It still didn't ignite.
She stared at the third and final match. Knowing a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she'd been praying through every stage. But now, she didn't just pray—she cried out to God.
"Please help me, God. Please," she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame to the paper and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned but the paper did not.
As the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat.
Nine girls tried for this highest honor of finishing the challenge. Three girls didn't make it, including my daughter.
When I picked her up a week later, she asked if we could process this situation. What bothered her most wasn't not getting the camp honor. What bothered her most was not experiencing God's power like the other girls.
They all had stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways through the challenge.
"Mom, I didn't get that with God. Why?"
It was one of those questions you don't want to mess up in answering.
I asked her to recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God's hand. I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.
When she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn't light. None at all. Everyone else's paper lit.
"Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust there was some reason you shouldn't have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was protecting you ... loving you ... revealing His power to you."
She put her head on my shoulder, "You really think so Mom?"
I whispered, "I know so."
I know so because I trust the truth God has given me. Truths like these are anchors that hold me to the reality of who God is.
He is the One in whom I find comfort and reassurance: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
He is right here with me in the midst of my trouble, I am not alone: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
He is the One who can use my tears to water the soil of my heart so that it can one day be a harvest of joy: "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalm 126:5 (NIV)
Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, "Yes, sweetheart, I know so."
Sometimes God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen. We may never know the why. But we can always know and trust the Who.
Dear Lord, thank You for knowing what I need and what I don't—even when I don't agree. Teach me to trust You and look for Your hand in every situation. Help me see Your 'yes' and 'no' as protection and guidance. Today, I choose to trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Sometimes it's hard to understand why God prevents something when we want Him to provide it. If you're looking for a friend to help you process your emotions in the hard times, Lysa does this in her gut-honest new book, Unglued. Click here to order your copy.
Nothing changes us like Scripture. The accompanying Unglued Bible Study is a great resource to get us into the Word of God and help us choose emotionally healthy, Godly reactions. To order your copy, click here.
We would love for you to join us for the Unglued Bible Study. Proverbs 31 Ministries is starting an Unglued online Bible Study hosted by Melissa Taylor and Lysa TerKeurst on Sunday, September 23rd. Don't worry, this Bible Study won't require you to leave your house, change out of your pajamas, or even put on makeup! Click here to sign up.
Reflect and Respond:
Look back at a situation where you felt God didn't answer your prayers. Can you see His power in not allowing your prayer to be answered? Be specific. It's important to acknowledge God's provision and protection.
Write out your prayers today. Focus on trusting who God is and not why He is choosing not to answer or delaying His response. Remind yourself, "God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen."
Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 14 August 2012.