“From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.” Psalm 61:2 (NLT)
Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Have you ever felt like the tasks before you were too great. The unknowns too daunting. The stakes too high?
I have felt this way so palpably in the past few months.
Over the past three years, we have navigated more transition as a family than we have in the 5 years prior and these past few months we have felt as though the heavy weight of transition has been pinning members of our family down in a life-stalling hold.
Transition has been hard for all of us. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that our furlough was full of heaviness and challenge – both for our kids and for myself. I would be remiss if I didn’t express the reality of transition that unexpectedly knocked the wind right out of me and left me feeling very much unlike myself. I would be dishonest if I didn’t explain that, behind the very clear hand of God which was moving me in the direction He wanted me to go was a very exhausted, very confused, very worried child of God who wasn’t sure how she was going to get through each day.
But, though transition snuck up on all of us and stole some of our joy, our consistency, our routine and our sense of safety, God was so clearly holding us up through it all.
He was with Elliott as he battled separation anxiety last term – a fear that still causes him to struggle with a sense of security.
He was with Benjamin as he faced the regular challenges of making friends in a new school compounded by the feelings of ’not fitting in’ and not belonging – both in PNG and in Canada.
He was with Jacob as he battled crippling anxiety that caused him to be sick day after day during our furlough.
He was with me as I wondered how I would get through each day – feeling like a failure in every task I set out to accomplish.
He was with us and He’s still with us and, can I tell you that this truth is the very thing that is carrying me through the recent days that have been characterized, once again by the heavy hand of transition.
Charles Spurgeon says:
[God’s] power is independent of place. Think ye that there was any sanctity in the upper room at Jerusalem? Behold this room is quite as sacred as that filled by the Spirit in years gone by. Dream not that the city of Jerusalem of old, in the days of the Savior was a more proper theater for divine working than this is; he can make London rejoice even as he did Jerusalem of old.Equally is the divine power independent of time.
Do not dream that the ages have changed, so that in this day God cannot do his mighty works. Beloved, if you can conceive of an age that is worse than another, so much the more is it a fit platform for the heavenly energy; the more difficulty, the more room for omnipotence to show itself; there is elbow room for the great God when there is some great thing in the way, and some great difficulty that he may overturn. When there is a mountain to be cast into the valley, then there is almighty work to be done; and our covenant God only needs to see work to do for his praying people, and he will shortly do it.”
Oh how I long to believe this completely. You see, while we’ve been back in PNG for almost four months, it feels like a lifetime has passed and the emotions have been plentiful. I have felt delighted, joyful and fulfilled while also battling feelings of confusion, frustration and exhaustion.
Transition has hit our family hard and the clear target of the attack, for this season, has been Benjamin.
If any of you know Ben, you know that he is creative, thoughtful, heartfelt, loyal, kind, inclusive, energetic and joyful. He has big ideas, big dreams, big emotions and, over the years, all of that ‘bigness’ has, at times, made school an arduous challenge.
He is verbal, but sometimes too verbal. He is creative, but sometimes too scattered. He is smart, but sometimes unfocused. He is others-centred, but sometimes too focused on making others laugh.
Though he has had challenging years in school, God has also given him some amazing teachers who have focused on the strengths, worked with him on the weaknesses and not made him feel like his ‘bigness’ was an imposition to be hidden, but a gift from God to be harnessed and honed for His glory.
God has put people into his life to speak truth and speak love and we are thankful but, dear friends, his heart is so discouraged right now because, you see, alongside those God-appointed encouragers and truth-speakers, there have also been disappointments and on the weighted scale of truth and lies, the lies are weighing heavy on his heart and the encouragements are being lost as lies keep falling heavily, thrusting the the truth side of the scale up to the heavens and out of sight.
The place we are in doesn’t feel full of God’s power, though we know that it is. The mountains that we need to be cast into the valley seem too big. The omnipotence of God seems too intangible and our hearts are hurting for our son.
He is feeling weighed down, less than, not good enough, weary, helpless and as though failure is a foregone conclusion. He feels lonely, misunderstood and not worthy of friendship. He feels pinned under the weight of the lies the enemy is speaking to him and our hearts are overwhelmed.
We are navigating new diet plans, new plans of attack, new methods of tracking problem behaviours and finding ways to track our progress. We are looking the mountains of ADHD and big emotions in the face and we are asking God to show us where His Heavenly energy is at work. We are trying to parent, discipline, guide and direct while not contributing to the mountain of lies Ben is believing about himself with some necessary constructive criticism but our truth spoken in love is getting twisted by the ears of a child who is under attack.
The mountain is big. The tasks too great. The unknowns too daunting. The stakes too high.
But, I am trying to remember who I serve. We have seen transition be the exact place where He resides, just like every other place in our life.
We know He resides, also, in the places of separation anxiety, new schools, anxiety, fear of failure and worthlessness.
We know because we’ve met Him there and He’s pulled us out, again and again. We know because He is faithful and always has been. We know. We believe. But it is so easy to stare at the mountain and feel helpless.
It is easy to stare at the mountain and miss the incredible sight of the God of the Universe elbowing His way in to cast that mountain aside, especially if the casting aside is taking longer than we would like.
But, instead of staring at the mountain, we’re trying to spend the time, already on our knees, dependant and unable to solve these puzzles ourselves, in prayer.
We are praying over Ben. We are praying over our other kids. We are praying for help. We are crying out for wisdom. We are reaching out for peace.
“Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.”― Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
We are conversing. We are hoping. We are seeking. We are waiting for an encounter.
Tim Keller says, in his book “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God,”
“We are never as thankful as we should be. When good things come to us, we do everything possible to tell ourselves we accomplished that or at least deserve it. We take the credit. And when our lives simply are going along pretty smoothly, without a lot of difficulties, we don’t live in quiet, amazed, thankful consciousness of it. In the end, we not only rob God of the glory due him, but the assumption that we are keeping our lives going robs us of the joy and relief that constant gratitude to an all-powerful God brings.”
So, we are holding on. We are embracing our weakness. We are rejoicing in our dependance and we are waiting for the joy and relief that comes from acknowledging our inability and God’s ultimate Sovereignty – both in our lives and in the lives of our children.
We are claiming His victory for Ben. We are praying over him. We are praying against attack. We are continuing to speak truth to him in the hope that the words we speak might begin to weigh down the scales of truth and lies so that, once again, the reality of God’s truth can fall into his line of sight and sink into his precious heart. And we are trusting.
We are trusting that God is here in this place. We are trusting that God is protecting Ben’s heart. We are recognizing that we are not in control but that an all-loving, all-powerful, omnipotent Father is present with us and always has been.
We are surrendering our feelings, our tasks, our unknowns and all of the stakes. We are releasing and, in the releasing, we are waiting on the joy and relief that He promises.
He has a plan. He knew these problems would arise in this place and He has a plan that, is not thwarted by our problems but, includes them and, better yet, that provide a platform on which to experience and witness His incredible power as He writes Ben’s story.
“Let me put this bluntly: Most of us feel outnumbered and outgunned by our current situation. We want to be freed from our problems so that we can get on with our pleasures. But God has a different plan. He wants our problems to serve as the context for knowing Him and living out the story He invites us to write for His glory. This means the present is not meant primarily to be resolved, or even learned from, but to be written in a way that allows us to reveal God to others and to let Him reveal Himself to us.”
Dan Allendar “To Be Told”
We may feel outnumbered and outgunned. We may want these problems to vanish and these mountains to be moved. We may feel overwhelmed and small but we also don’t want to miss God’s greatness. We also don’t want to miss the display of HIs power in the movement of the mountains. Or His great power to do a great thing in the midst of great difficulty.
So we will watch. We will wait. We will pray. We will surrender and we will praise Him for the ways in which He shows up time and again. In each place. In each heart. In each life that He has called, chosen and redeemed.
We praise God that we are His and that His power is at work for us – making our weakness and Ben’s weakness an advantage and not an obstacle. May we learn to steer away from self-reliance, fear, panic and worry and run to God in prayer, saying, with our whole hearts, ’Thy will be done.’ This is our prayer for our lives and Ben’s life. Would you join us in praying for our sweet Benjamin?
“If we can’t say “thy will be done” from the bottom of our hearts, we will never know any peace. We will feel compelled to try to control people and control our environment and make things the way we believe they ought to be. Yet to control life like this is beyond our abilities, and we will just dash ourselves upon the rocks. This is why Calvin adds that to pray “thy will be done” is to submit not only our wills to God but even our feelings, so that we do not become despondent, bitter, and hardened by the things that befall us.”
― Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
If you would like to be a part of reminding Ben of the truths of who he is in Christ, either by sharing a verse that has encouraged you or perhaps sharing a thought about the ways in which you have seen the beauty in how Ben is made, I would love it if you would comment below and I can share these things with Ben later on. Thank you, friends!