Psalm 102:6-7 (New Living Translation)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
6 I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
7 I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
The wind had a bite to it and early snowflakes hitched a ride on its wings and swirled around the parking lot. The local Christian bookstore was having a music sale, part of its gearing up for the Christmas season, and as I entered the store, there was the owner, a friend of mine, sitting on a walker, surrounded by Christmas decorations.
As we caught up with each other's news since we last met, I was shocked to hear that since mid May, she had been seriously ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which caused paralysis of her lower body, and from which she is still recovering, slowly, almost six months later.
My friend has always been a busy person, running stores in two communities and so I wondered how she'd coped with being totally incapacitated, her whole life put on hold so suddenly. There were no glib answers. She described how utterly silent God had been and how she'd cried out to him, asking where he was. Something a friend said to her helped. He'd said, “When you were in school, having a test, the teacher was there, but she was silent, wasn't she?”
In a passage I read this morning from Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz," he described his journey as a new Christian. He'd intellectually come to a point of belief, then went through a phase of euphoria where he experienced God intensely, and the Bible as a vibrantly alive book. He writes of wanting spiritual feelings to endure and remain romantic like a couple newly in love. He struggled when this didn't happen.
There are times for all of us when we wonder where God is and it's then that we learn what faith really means. We can only lean on who we know God to be and choose to trust in the darkness. As with Donald Miller's analogy of a romantic relationship, we grow beyond "feelings," and choose to love and to believe.
My friend said that when she prays for those who are sick or going through tough times now, her prayers have changed. She knows what it is to be in the valley. And God has given her the gift of credibility, a credibility that those who haven't walked a thorny road can never have in quite the same way.
Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."