I found myself sitting on the patio of our rental house in tears the 4th of July weekend. Why? Because our son Jeffrey had changed his mind and decided he didn’t want to come see us, after all. We’ve only seen him once since we moved here to Arizona in January, and I was so looking forward to spending time with him. My husband and I have been worried, as we we’d been told by his caregivers that he rarely leaves the house where he’s living, has no friends, and has been spending all his days on the computer or his smartphone.
His big excuse in January was that COVID had frightened him – which we understood. He certainly has a lot of health issues to overcome with his cerebral palsy, and we could see how the last year had confined him more into seclusion than before. Yet things had now opened up in Arizona, and he still didn’t seem to want to get out.
Or was it that he just didn’t want to see us?
After my original sob-fest on the 4th of July, a few days later I again found myself sitting on our patio. I began thinking of all the “seemingly” happy families; and realized our family would most likely never be like that. I started thinking of all the holidays where I see generations of families sitting together in church – and then going out together afterwards to laugh and throw some burgers and hot dogs on the grill.
I thought of Christmases past – when Jeffrey was still living at home and we’d have such fun together unwrapping presents and just being goofy.
I thought about all the “fun” pictures I see on social media of families all going to Disneyland together.
I thought about how maybe, just maybe, things would’ve been different in our family if our son Matthew was still alive. He had been such a good big brother. Wouldn’t he still be close to Jeffrey, helping him overcome his struggles with isolation, as well as having a disability?
Too many “whys, maybes, and how-comes” began to seep into my mind.
My tears began to flow once again.
Suddenly I heard the voice of my Heavenly Father speaking to me through my tears. It was so clear to me! He reminded me in the most gentle way that His calling for my life is to comfort others – those hurting just like me. And, I wouldn’t be able to comfort others if I had a “perfect” life.
He reminded me that He was the “God of All Comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), which is what my ministry is all about.
Since that day, I’ve been finding myself thinking about Hannah in the Bible, whose story is in 1 Samuel 1-2. It has given me a little wake-up call.
Hannah had been childless for years. She was married to Elkanah.
However Elkanah also had another wife named Penninah. Penninah had been able to have children, yet Hannah had not. And, rather than being sympathetic, Penninah would often taunt Hannah for her barrenness.
Every year Elkanah would take his 2 wives and they would make the trip to town to offer worship and sacrifices at the temple, just like they were supposed to. However one year while they were there, Hannah was praying and she began to weep bitterly because of her childlessness. She then made a vow to the Lord, telling Him if He would just grant her a son, she would give him back to the Lord, and he could serve Him for the rest of his life.
Friends, the Lord always hears the prayers of His people (1 John 5:14), and this time was no different. He granted her request.
And, being a woman of her word, once her young son Samuel was weaned, she brought him to Eli, the high priest serving at God’s temple. She informs Eli, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).
A mother’s heart – leaving her precious son with the high priest. Trusting that because God had answered her prayer for a son, that He would always take care of young Samuel. She only saw him yearly after that, but because of her obedience and love, the Lord opened her womb and she was able to conceive and have 5 more healthy children (1 Samuel 2:18-21).
She believed in God – wholeheartedly. And God blessed her.
As I’ve been continuing to meditate on the story of Hannah, I was one day reminded: Was that not what we did with both Matthew and Jeffrey? Did not my husband and I stand before our church family many years ago and turn our children back over to the Lord for Him to take care of?
Were they not really His children after all?
And is He not in total control – always – loving them even more than Gary and I do?
I cannot begin to tell you how encouraged I’ve been as the Lord has been reminding me of these truths lately. Yes, I still definitely have moments of crying; and yes I still hurt at times. Yet the words from my Heavenly Father got me back on track. There will be times of pain now, but someday Heaven is coming!
Our God has set His plans in motion for every single one of us who are His children. It says in Jeremiah 10:23 that “no one who walks directs his own steps.”
So what does that mean? For me it means that God has not called me into a cookie-cutter Disney life.
We must remember that God decides – through wisdom that we cannot even fathom – the course of all our lives. Some He calls to lives of plenty; some not. Some of us are blessed with numerous healthy children; some are not. Some are called to live through debilitating pain; and some die quickly without hardly ever having seen a day of sickness.
But does that mean that God loves “perfect, healthy people” more than others? Absolutely not! His love for all of us is beyond our comprehension. Earth is not my home! It says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” For those of us who have surrendered to the saving grace of Jesus, our Heavenly home is going to be grander and more beautiful than we could ever imagine! If you want a real faith booster, read what it will be like in Revelation 21. Beauty beyond comprehension!
And friends, for those of you who have suffered greatly in this life, our Lord Jesus Himself will one day personally wipe all tears from your eyes (Revelation 21:4). Thank You, Jesus.
Keep your focus, friends. It’s hard sometimes, that much I know. But our Savior hears your cries, and lovingly is collecting all your tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8).