Giggly, bubbly laughter filled the air and echoed throughout our living room like a scurrying breeze on a warm autumn afternoon. A special (and very large) shipment of discount diapers had arrived on our doorstep from Amazon – and you know what that means, don’t you? Why, the greatest adventure ship known to child-kind!
We quickly emptied the contents of our giant ‘smile’ box and our two chubby-cheeked children gleefully began sliding around in their new favorite toy: a giant cardboard box.
Oh sure, they have heaps of toys in every variety, shape, color, and size. But a big ole’ box will easily entertain them for at least two hours. Storms will billow against the sails of their grand sea ship. The sun will stand still as they travel back in time to faraway lands of danger and intrigue. Screams of joy will ripple through the house as they race ahead of the competition in their 500 horsepower stock car. I suppose Papa has a wee bit of fun with the adventure, too, especially as we speed past Mommy’s stocking feet and jump across rooms like a rickety roller coaster.
Little did we know what tragedy might await us…
Suddenly our ship spun out of control and collided with a humble chair (who thought she was minding her own business). With extraordinary theatrics Hudson and Everlynn (and Papa) tumbled across the floor with a melodramatic flair that would undoubtedly raise Steven Spielberg’s bushy eyebrows.
All seemed in good fun until I realized the fair Princess Everlynn had abruptly stopped breathing, in fact, she appeared to be storing up nuclear energy.
“Ummm… Papa? Is Everlynn going to explode?” Hudson chirped.
“Uh no, Hudson. Everlynn is not going to explode…” I replied with a deep sigh.
Apparently, the most natural reaction for two toddlers in a crashing cardboard box is to BONK heads together with tremendous thunder. Because “Mr. MegaMind” Hudson was blessed with a generous-sized head made of heat-tempered steel, Everlynn stood at a clear disadvantage.
I already saw a purple bump forming on her delicate brow as she finally shook the house with her first good wail. Tears streamed down from her sparkling eyes as she looked up at me with arms outstretched.
“Paaaapaaaa… I waaant Paaaapaaa,” she sobbed.
I gently scooped her up into my arms and snuggled her close to my chest. I could feel her little fingers clutch onto my shirtsleeves and her rapid heartbeat press against my shoulder. She quickly calmed down, the tears began to dissipate, and soon she was again anxiously watching Hudson (who was already back inside the box playing to his heart’s content).
With a squirm and worm-jiggle Everlynn zipped out of my arms and ran right back over to her voyage in the box. Unfortunately, this time the fun didn’t last as long. Now that Hudson had tasted the freedom of a sister-less cardboard box, he decided a good shove would keep her out of the way.
Smack. Everlynn hit the floor with a loud THUMP. Here we go again.
“Ummm… Papa? Is Everlynn going to explode?” Hudson chirped again, this time with his eyebrows turned down with a rather fake look of guilt.
“Uh no, Hudson. Everlynn is not going to explode…” I replied with a deep sigh (again).
Deal with the abuser or care for the wounded? Which would you choose in the moment of urgency? I decided to go with the latter, at least for the moment.
I again picked up Everlynn off the floor and carried her sobbing self over to the couch to soothe her. Suddenly, much to my surprise, she switched back into her squirmy mode. This time she looked fearfully over at the box and at her rather hurtful compatriot.
But she kept right on squirming, wiggling, and kicking.
Her tiny voice piped up, “Geeeddddown, I wanna get down…”
“But Everlynn you…” I reminder her.
“Noooo… Geeedddown,” was her reply.
Reluctantly, I set her back down on the floor. While she sniffled and surveyed the situation from a distance, I seized the opportunity to administrate corrective measures to Mr. MegaMind. Ahem.
Restless in our Loss
But all the squirming, wiggling, and kicking from our little Princess got me thinking…
How many times have I been squirmy with God, my Father in heaven? Do I ever find myself growing impatient in His arms? Have I grown restless with God, supposing I must be missing out on a great adventure of my own making?
How about you? Do you feel anxious about tomorrow? Is panic becoming a more natural response than prayer? Are you ready to jump out on your own again as soon as the pain or uncertainty subsides?
The storms of life and the reality of suffering bring tears to my eyes. Our suffering has been very palpable this week. I’ve wiped dozens of droplets from my wife’s eyes as we’ve grieved and cried through another miscarriage – our fourth to be precise. We hurt. We have sensed the abuse and pain of living in a fallen world.
And so we run into the arms of our loving God and He tells us we’ve never left His hand or His heart. He reminds us of His presence, His nearness, and His plan for a redeemed earth when all things will be remade.
But I so quickly get squirmy with God. And yet again I find myself anxious, concerned, and even fearful about life in this fallen, sin-riddled world. Are you there today?
Has God brought you through difficulty, sorrow, or tragedy but you quickly revert back toward your control panel? Are you filled with anxiety and concern because you cannot possibly know what might happen tomorrow or next week or next year? Do you feel beat up and bruised by life but don’t know how to completely rest in God’s arms?
You are not alone. We all suffer. If someone claims to be without suffering of any kind then they must already be in heaven with God (and even then they must groan, awaiting the final redemption of their physical bodies at the resurrection of the righteous, cf. Romans 8:18-25).
I think the young David was sometimes a bit squirmy with God, too. Listen to his words when he fled from King Saul in a middle-of-nowhere cave:
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.
I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me. SELAH
God will send forth His loving-kindness and His truth.” (Psalm 57:1-3)
For all his very human fears, David chose to not run to the methods and tools of his enemies but instead trusted and rested in YHWH, the Lord. Like a mother-bird nesting with her young ones, so the Lord gives refuge and peace in the middle of suffering and conflict.
Here’s how God continues to promise refuge for His people:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalm 91:1-4)
Staying and resting in the refuge of God may not look safe. Life will still hit you and me. Sin and tears and disease will still assault our lives.
But we can know that God is with us in our suffering. We can go in the confidence that God is good and in control – even when we desperately want to squirm, wiggle, and kick our way into performing our own damage control. God is looking upon you and me with eyes of love and care. His refuge is present. His arms are strong and His plan is good.
Yes, we do find ourselves squirming sometimes, don’t we? We find ourselves growing impatient in His arms. We may grow restless with God, supposing we must be missing out on a great adventure of our own making.
But just like I reassured Everlynn she could rest and trust and be at peace in my arms, so our heavenly Father is reminding us to place our confidence in His refuge, His strength, and in His good plan… even if we don’t see it or understand.
Be faithful to the faithful God.