“I really like helping you Pop–Pop; it makes me feel really good inside.”
These delightful words were spoken by my seven-year-old granddaughter, Isabel. Quite often, she delights in taking care of some of my needs. Usually this involves getting me a blanket when I am cold, or the rice bag which her mother made. She knows to put it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes and then to place it behind my neck to ease its aching.
So, she says to me, “Whenever you need help just tell me you need two things and I’ll know what to do. Actually, if you need a drink of water, just say you need three things.” Isabel really shows her love and concern for me. Further, she and her two brothers, David and Jonathan, also pray regularly for me. It is not unusual for them to say: “Please help Pop–Pop to get out of his wheelchair.” I truly admire and appreciate their love for me! They must get this from their grandmother.
I’m also struck by the ongoing faith reflected in their prayers. David, Isabel and Jonathan are very sincere in their request. I always smile inside and appreciate their prayer. Jesus encourages all of his followers to trust him like a little child. It’s a good lesson for me.
At the same time, I also recognize that God answers prayers in accordance with his greater wisdom and purpose. Although I would very much prefer to be mobile again, I acknowledge that the wheelchair is my gift from my Heavenly Father. He’s put me in it for a purpose. So, I don’t really expect to get out of the wheelchair until the Lord returns or I meet him in heaven. I know that some time in my future I will be out of the wheelchair! Better yet, I will be made complete in Christ and end/win my struggle with sin and its effects.
Nevertheless, I am reminded of my innate difficulty of learning to walk with God. This morning, I read Psalm 78, which begins with an exhortation to teach our children the things of the Lord. It goes on to describe the lack of faith and insensitivity to the Lord and his mighty acts by the children of Israel. When I sit back and “objectively” look at the history of the people of Israel, I’m amazed to think that these folks actually saw the dramatic and powerful works of the Lord (think 10 plagues, crossing through the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army drowned, etc.) and yet still did not fully trust him.
It’s an easy thing to be critical about the lack of faith of the Israelites and yet when it comes to my own faith and experience of the Lord I have to admit that I often become complacent and faithless. It’s one thing to say that I trust in the Lord with all my heart and quite a different thing to actually live it out.
So, even though I know that God has a great purpose in all that he does (even with me) because of my complacency, I sometimes forget. Sometimes, the struggles, routine and pressure of everyday life cloud my vision – my faith. I act and unconsciously think God has forgotten me, or at least doesn’t pay attention to what I think I need.
I was reminded of this again this past weekend as I had opportunity to preach on Exodus 2. The context of this passage is the bondage and slavery of God’s people in Egypt. God’s people had been slaves for centuries and were continually crying out for relief. Exodus 2 describes the beginning of God’s deliverance for them. God is raising up Moses as their deliverer, but they don’t realize it. They just can’t see it. It is evident from their actions that they think that God has not only forgotten them, but also his promises to save his people from their sin.
The chapter closes with these words:
“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23–25, ESV)
As I live in this world, I am continually faced with what appears to be a difference between the Providence of God and the promises of God. In other words, my circumstances sometimes/often/usually don’t appear to be the blessing of God. When I say this, I know is not true, but when I don’t always recognize this; I don’t live like I know it. Even so, God hears; God remembers; God sees and God knows. God is faithfully at work, even when I don’t realize it.