Dear God, Where Are You?
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
“Mom, I didn’t make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God.”
My heart sank. I felt my daughter’s deep hurt. I felt it as clearly as if it were my own.
I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door close. That opportunity slip away.
She’d been talking about going for this special achievement at summer camp for three years. Every time we talked about camp, she talked about going for this achievement. But she wasn’t old enough to try until her fourth year at camp.
Finally, this was going to be her year.
She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight … until the fire. She was supposed to light a campfire with nothing but three matches, one small square of newspaper and a few sticks of wood.
She struck the first match and held it up to the newspaper. It didn’t ignite. She struck the second match and held it up to the newspaper. It still didn’t ignite.
She stared at the third and final match. Knowing that a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she’d been praying through every stage of the challenge. But now, she didn’t just pray — she cried out to God.
“Please help me, God. Please,” she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame up to the paper once again and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned, but the paper did not.
As soon as the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat, and gave all her wood to the girls still in the challenge.
When I arrived at camp to pick her up a week later, she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation.
The fact that she didn’t get the camp honor was not what was bothering her the most. What was bothering her the most was not experiencing God’s power like the other girls had. They all had stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways that carried them all the way through the challenge.
“Mom, I didn’t get that with God. Why?”
This was a tough question. One of those questions as a mom that you don’t want to mess up in answering.
I asked her to help me recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God’s hand. As she recalled every part, I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.
And when she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn’t light. None at all. Everyone else’s paper lit. Hers should have. But it didn’t.
“Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust that there was some reason you shouldn’t have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was right there … protecting you … loving you … revealing His power to you.”
She put her head on my shoulder, “You really think so, Mom?”
I whispered, “I know so.”
I know so because I trust the truth God has given me. Truths like these are anchors that hold me to the reality of who God is:
He is the One in whom I find comfort and reassurance: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).
He is right here with me in the midst of my trouble, and I am not alone: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, “Yes, sweetheart, I know so.”
Sometimes, God’s power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen. We may never know why. But we can always know and trust the Who.
Dear Lord, thank You for knowing what I need and what I don’t — even when I don’t agree. Help me see Your “yes” and “no” as protection and guidance. Today, I choose to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Look back at a situation where you felt God didn’t answer your prayers. Can you see His power in not allowing your prayer to be answered?