When God seems most absent, we can be assured that He is right here.
I recently watched a movie that's a few years old. To be honest, I didn't care for it. There was one line in there that got me thinking, though. At a couple of points in the movie, one of the main characters makes the statement, "God is in the rain."
Now I have no idea how the producers of the movie meant it, and based on the other messages in their movie, I would probably disagree with their meaning. That said, I've been thinking about that line ever since then.
As I mentioned in a blog posting a little while ago, I went through a very challenging time in my life this last year. It started a couple of years ago with some frustration over some circumstances in my life. As those continued, the discouragement grew, and it really had a negative affect on the way I was approaching other important responsibilities. The ongoing disappointment began to consume my whole thought process, and then when I finally felt I had overcome that, the final and unexpected blow hit me.
It was a very painful thing to go through, and it wasn't easy to work through. One of the things I learned is that there is, unfortunately, no way of escaping that kind of pain. You can't talk yourself out of it. You can't just say that God has a plan and just move on. It's just not that easy, and I don't think God expects us to consider it so. However that specific issue is another topic for another time, so I'll get on with my point.
I prayed every which way I knew how during all this. I asked for reconciliation. It didn't happen. I asked for the strength to just move on. It didn't happen. Then I just asked that He would make His plan evident. That didn't happen either. Weeks and then months went by, and I felt like I was still stuck in the same place — heartbroken and helpless.
Then one day I asked God where He was in all of this. I was tired of not seeing any progress. Was I praying the wrong way? Was He even still listening?
As I sat there praying but feeling completely alone, suddenly I heard the gentle roll of the thunder outside. I looked outside and just watched the rain pour down. The sky seemed to match my feelings, and the rhythm of the rain seemed to be therapeutic. And in that moment, I felt a comfort I hadn't felt in a long time.
God was in the rain that day.
He Weeps With You
When recounting the horrors of his experience during the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel told the story of having to witness an execution in the camp. As he stood there watching, two of the three victims had succumbed to the noose they were hanging from. But the third victim, a child, was still struggling. He was too light, and so he hung there for more than half an hour waiting for death to come.
And as Wiesel and other prisoners were forced to watch this happen, he heard a man behind him say, "For God's sake, where is God?"
Wiesel's reply: "And from within me I heard a voice answer: 'Where is He? This is where — hanging from this gallows.'"
Elie Wiesel witnessed horrors that most of us will never see, let alone even be able to fathom. But the voice he heard from within is a voice that is trying to speak to each one of us when life hits hardest. That God is here.
In my life I've often been guilty of equating getting things my way with God's presence. And when my prayers aren't answered the way I'd hoped, it begins to feel like God is most distant. But that's not realistic, and thinking that way has caused me to overlook one of God's greatest miracles — the very fact that He cares and is right there with me.
When Jesus arrived to find Lazarus already dead, He knew full well that He would be raising him just a short time later. And yet what did He do? He wept over the loss.
His first action wasn't to change everything right away or to even alleviate the hurt that everyone was feeling. He simply took the time to grieve with them. Only after that did He bring Lazarus back.
I believe He does the same thing for me and for each one of us. He may not always answer a prayer in the way I hope He will. I wish He did. But He is right there in the situation hurting with me.
My sister Naomi leads a humanitarian organization that helps people all over the world. She goes into all corners of the world and reaches out to those who are victim to some of the world's darkest experiences.
On one trip she was visiting a ministry that's a home for abused children in South Africa. As she made her way through the rooms meeting the children and talking to the people who had started the home, she noticed one little boy who lay motionless, strapped to a board.
When she asked about him, she was told his heartbreaking story. When he was just a baby, his parents dropped him on the ground because they were drunk at the time. He landed on his head and suffered severe head and spinal damage, and ever since then he was unable to speak or move. He was now around 8 years old and couldn't communicate even by way of a facial expression.
Naomi walked over to where he was lying and knelt down next to him. Then she gently began to stroke the side of his face with her hand. As she did, he responded with something more powerful than the words he couldn't speak or the motions he couldn't make. The little boy's eyelids just fluttered and then tears began to slowly stream down his face.
The human heart longs for company. The amazing thing is that, though sometimes quietly, our God is there to provide it no matter what the circumstances. He was in the rain. He was in the gallows. And He was in Naomi's heart and actions as she knelt next to that little boy.
He is in the center of my pain and yours. His healing doesn't begin with instant results; it begins with His tender love.
Copyright 2009 Nathan Zacharias. All rights reserved.