Ken Gire, in his book The North Face of God, tells the story of a young man, we’ll call him Jim, who loved the Lord and wanted to serve as a pastor—and he longed to be a father. Jim was close to his own father, and dreamed of having a son he could share his life with.
He became a youth pastor, and got married, but his wife had a heart defect and they were told that she could never have children. So they decided to adopt. One day the call came that a 4-day old baby was waiting at the hospital, ready to be theirs: Their long-awaited son.
They brought him home, and were full of dreams for this little one—but they soon realized something was wrong. The baby hated to be held and would stiffen up all over. As the boy grew, they learned he had a number of learning disabilities and psychiatric problems. They took him for many assessments and tried to find help for him. When he was 10 or 11, they were told that by the time he was 18, he’d be dead or behind bars.
They refused to believe it, and tried a private school, and then homeschooling. Sure enough, he got mixed up in drugs and ended up in jail.
Jim had a friend who also had a son in trouble, and they talked often. Exciting things were happening at his friend’s church—God’s hand was moving, and people were coming to know Christ—and finally even his friend’s son was turning back to God. But nothing changed for Jim. And he told his friend he couldn’t stand to hear one more miracle of Jesus story. It was too painful.
Some people might have abandoned Jim at this point, but not his friend. They continued to meet and talk over the years. And one year a group of people from their church decided to meet with the man and pray with him, and they prayed together every week for a year and a half. They became the man’s lifeline.
Jim did a 40 day fast and sought the Lord in every way he knew how, but his only answer was silence.
One day he decided to go to the prayer room at church and stay there until he heard from God. Jim was broken and at the very end of his rope, he was desperate. He waited for 5 hours, and then he finally heard God speak. And this is what God said:
“Can I still be your God if I never heal your son? If I never speak to you the way you want Me to?”
“Yes,” the man replied.
Do you think Jim’s faith brings less joy to God than the faith of his friend whose son turned back to God? Do you think Jim is less worthy of God’s love and grace than his friend? Yet how often do we reject God’s grace in our lives by our negative, self-degrading thoughts?
I’m not worthy. I’ve messed up too many times.
God must not really love me, or He would change this circumstance in my life.
I’m not important to God or He would answer.
I think of the words Jim heard—“Can I still be your God?” what vulnerability—what love God communicated in that simple question. These were not the words of a vengeful, unfeeling God. God saw the man’s pain. God knew he asked much of the man to endure such pain.
If you are doing your best to love and follow God, and you wish you could more and more—can you believe God is pleased with you? He takes joy in your effort, your heart’s desire.
Romans 12:1 says, “I urge you, brothers, sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.”
When we go through pain in our lives, it doesn’t have to be meaningless. We can turn it around and say, “God, I don’t know why I need to go through this, but I ask You to somehow be glorified in this.” We can remember that Christ thought we were worthy of His suffering, when we go through our dark nights and struggle to remember that He is worthy of our suffering.
Next time Part 4: Lies and Truth
Grace in Our Time of Need, other posts:
~Part 1: God's Joy
~Part 2: God's Silence
~Part 3: Can I Still Be Your God?
~Part 4: Lies and Truth
~Part 5: God's Protection
~Part 6: God Hears
See also Stories of Hope