…Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 46Recently, I was awakened early, about 5:00 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I had been working on some writing, reflections of how God had shown up many times in my life. I was thinking along those lines, when my thoughts took a turn in another direction. I started thinking about where God hadn’t been. The conversation went something like this:
“You know, God, there are times I can think of when it really seems like you weren’t there. Or, if you were there, you were allowing stuff that you shouldn’t have allowed. You must’ve turned way. Otherwise, you couldn’t have been there.”
I continued, “Like, where were you during my early, tender years, when my home was so stressful and when the strife of growing up made me feel so isolated?”
In my heart, I heard the Lord reply, “I was in your Grandmother, who I sent to live with you for those years between seven and fourteen.”
And I saw what He meant. There she sat in her big oak chair in the sun parlor. Gnarled fingers laced with rosary beads, prayers whispered endlessly from her lips, transistor radio linking her to the outside world of news, talk, and faith. Her very presence brought peace. She was calm in the midst of the storm. And, though she was poor, blind, hard of hearing, and crippled with arthritis, she was rich with love offered as an endless cup of refreshment.
“Oh, so that was your Spirit, huh, God? Okay, well I see that now. It would have been very different without you…”
The conversation continued. It turns out there were many times I felt all alone, as if God wasn’t there. But as I brought these dark times to God, He was showing me that, in fact, He had been there. Then, I ventured out into a territory of pain that I don’t think I’ll ever understand from my earthly perspective.
“Where were you God when I lost my twins? We were so excited, so captivated by the miracle of expecting not one, but two babies! How could you let that happen?”
“I was there. And I was weeping too. I shared in your grief.”
“I didn’t feel you God!”
“Well, I was there in the grief that you and Dr. Kramer shared. He had lost his brother to suicide just a year before. I brought you each other that day, filled with compassion for one another.”
“Yes, in some way, I suppose, sharing our pain helped both of us, ” I responded. “And the sadness and care of so many, the love for Chris and I that was poured out through that time…that was you?”
“Yes. I was there in your dad, too. Remember? He had to make it through a lot of red tape, walk through forbidden doors to be with you that day. Your dad was there to hold you as you desperately tried to hold on to your babies. I wanted you to know that your dad would walk through fire for you, that he would do anything to be with you in your hour of need.”
“Thank you God. That was a moment of deep love and devotion. Thank you Lord, for your presence. Now I can see things that I never saw before. Thank you for this time together. Thank you for your love.”
What’s Your Story?
God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Think about the times when you have felt God was not with you. Times you have felt God was not watching over you. (Not much fun, but you’ve probably felt this, if not thought about it.)
Ask God to show you how He showed up. Ask Him to give you a new, true sense of how, in fact, He was very present in your pain.