by Bev Smith
I've been thinking a lot lately about blessings. What do we typically think of when we think of God blessing us? I think it's safe to say that we usually think of God sending His blessings when positive things happen in our lives such as the birth of a child, financial success, healthy family members, a new job coming through, safety from a storm, etc. I know from experience that it's easy to praise God when things are going well in our lives. But when our lives take a path that we never envisioned and we're forced to deal with events, situations that we would never have imagined or dreamed, we might begin to wonder how the same God is with us? Why do we have so much more difficulty finding blessings and praising God in those times? That, I believe, is what will define us as children of God. Trust in God is at the very root of what makes us His children. And although it can be difficult to do, we have to be able to see through those truly heartbreaking times and know that God is faithful. We can come out of what may be a tragedy with our trust in the Lord strengthened but we have to determine to do that.
The last month has been a difficult one for my family as well as many others. If you're not from Alabama and reading this, our state had a devastating line of tornadoes on April 27, 2011 killing 238 people in the state. A violent F-4 tornado swept a 1/2 mile wide, 5.9 mile long path across the city of Tuscaloosa. On that night, many, many families' lives were forever changed. Ours was not exempt. In Tuscaloosa, Marcus Smith, my daughter, Katie's, boyfriend of over 2 years was killed. Katie and Marcus met at church during their freshman year at the University of Alabama. They loved each other deeply and were planning a future together.
I know intellectually from the scriptures several things. I know that God's children are not immune to "time and chance" (Eccl. 9:11) and that God sends the rain on the just and unjust. (Matt. 5:45) I also know that it is possible for God to change His will in regard to events on earth if He so chooses. Two examples of this were when King Hezekiah's life was extended by 15 years after he prayed to God (2 Kings 20:1-11, Isa. 38:1-5) and when God stopped the rain for 3 years and 6 months when Elijah prayed to Him. (James 5:16-18).
While I know these things, I don't pretend to be able to explain all of the whys - why God allows some things to happen and chooses to intervene in others. The older I get, it seems the less I understand at times. But I'm not convinced that it's "the whys" that even matter. What matters is that I trust.
Even though the fervent prayers for many days of so many Christians did not bring us what we desperately desired - for Marcus to be found safe and alive, I know that the Lord used those same prayers to shed a glimmer of light when those days were the darkest that Marcus' family, Katie, and my family had ever seen. Those same prayers gave a father, a mother, and a brother the strength they needed to find him. Those same prayers held up our arms when we could not hold them up on our own. The prayers helped us feel the love of the family of Christ by knowing that so many were with us in spirit. Those blessings didn't come in the physical sense though, something we could touch, but they surely found their way to our hearts. And to a child of God, that is a blessing that cannot be measured.
The days ahead will be mixed...some more difficult than others but I know that our God and Father who is over all will bring us through. I don't know how He'll do it, but I know, without a doubt that He will. He is faithful.
So when you speak with the Father, if you would continue to remember the family of Marcus Smith and our family, "that He would bring us up out of a horrible pit and put a new song in our mouths", we would be forever grateful.
"1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD."
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, another violent tornado hit the city of Joplin, MO. According to news reports, over 120 people have lost their lives and approximately 30% of the city has been destroyed. My heart hurts for them. Hold on...God is faithful.