My readings the last week have been from the book of Ezekiel. If I had a choice, I would skip the whole thing–nothing but doom and gloom. Though one can easily see the comparison to what we hear on the news or read on the internet, I choose to believe that God will bring goodness and kindness out of the worst chaos. Regardless of the times I have to cringe, I am committed to finish what I started on January first and read the Bible through this year.
Though Ezekiel probably felt abandoned, as if the only person who obeyed God in all of Israel, he is not the person I thought of this morning when I felt compelled to write this blog. Unlike the prophet, Sarah is a fictional character from my debut novel, By the Sea. The young mother feels abandoned by both her parents and her husband. After her father dies and her mother sinks into deep depression, her military husband is sent to war-torn Iraq leaving her with twin boys and pregnant.
If that isn’t enough, Sarah receives another blow when an officer knocks on her door with the news that her husband has been killed in a mortar attack shortly after his arrival in Iraq. Feeling abandoned and alone, depression and despair become her companions while she neglects her responsibilities including her children. Her heart aches for her husband’s arms and for understanding ears to listen to her complaints.
Even God seems far away until she overhears a conversation in the kitchen between her three-year-old boys. “We need to pray for Mama. She’s sad cause Daddy’s not coming home. She misses him.” The other twin responds, “But she said he’s in heaven. Maybe God will let him come back sometime to see us. That should make Mama happy. If we pray real hard and be real quiet maybe he’ll come soon. I miss him too.”
The sweet reminder from her children pulls Sarah out of her lethargy, she drops to her knees and remembers the One who has been with her all along. Though her trials are far from over, God gives her the courage to face the future without her husband and the grace to forgive her mother.
Did you ever feel like Sarah with your prayers bouncing off the ceiling–as if no one cares? I have. Feeling alone and deserted strikes us all at one time or another. The question is: How will we react when the blows come? Will we try to go it alone or will we look to Someone greater than ourselves? Will we react like the fictional Sarah who chooses to trust God with her future; or the Biblical King David who feels free to air his complaints, but knows that God is his only hope; or Paul who sits alone in prison while encouraging others; or even Jesus who wrestles in the garden until he can say to his Father, Not my will, but thine be done?
Here are a few Scriptures that remind us that we are never alone:
Psalm 27:10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 31:6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (NLT)
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (NLT)
Psalm 142:1-3a, 5 I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. . . .Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.”
Pray with me. Father, give us insight to feel your presence, even when we feel abandoned and rejected by others. Give us ears to hear your words of encouragement that you often deliver through your Word or from a friend. Give us eyes to see the bigger picture of your plan for our lives. Give us grace to forgive those who have left us all alone. Bring glory and honor to your Name, Lord Jesus. Amen.