The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. Psalms 118:7
When I was in college I took a speech class. Each week we were given a different topic and had to write and deliver a speech on that topic. At the time I was not a Christian. I had a belief in a God but that’s as far as it went. In my class was a young man who said he wanted to become a pastor. Each week he took the assigned topic and made his speech into more of a sermon. It really annoyed me at the time. I felt like he was always discussing the same topic – God. It seemed like a “cheat.”
What I didn’t expect (and the young man probably would never have assumed either) was that 40 years later I would clearly remember one of his sermons, I mean speeches. I have since heard variations of the same theme. A man takes ill and as a steady stream of people come to help him in various ways he turns them away, waiting for God to intervene. And when he dies, he asks the angel in heaven why God never came. And, of course, the angel answers, “I sent you a lot of help but you turned them all away.”
Today I praise God that even when I feel He isn’t present in my trials I can know He truly is. He is my helper. I know, because in retrospect I’ve been able to see more clearly when He has sent help my way. When He has placed people in my life that showed up with the right message at just the right time.
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6
Even when we seem so far away from God He sends us help – like the aspiring pastor in my junior college speech class. And during the last few years I’ve made it my goal to shrink the timeframe gap from when I need His help to when I recognize He is working actively in my life. In the past it has taken me years to see how He was with me during difficult trials. But because I have embraced the truth of His promises, I now try to find God in every situation I face.
A couple years ago my husband and I were set to spend Thanksgiving in Colorado. We were to meet up with both our daughters and my husband’s family. We hadn’t all spent Thanksgiving together in years. At the time I was going through a lengthy process of diagnosing a parathyroid problem. The Thursday before Thanksgiving I underwent what I was told would be a simple office procedure to take a sample from my parathyroid.
The next day I was having trouble swallowing. Two days later my neck had swollen to almost twice its size. By Sunday afternoon I was in the emergency room. They called in surgical specialists so I could undergo emergency surgery for a bleed in my neck, caused by the “simple” procedure. And Monday afternoon, the day before we were to leave for Colorado, I sat in my hospital bed listening to my doctor tell me we needed to perform another surgery to remove my parathyroid. In other words, I wasn’t going anywhere for awhile.
I was missing my daughters terribly. They were both living away from home for schooling. And I had imagined all the hugs and kisses I wanted to dole out. And now I sat in that hospital bed knowing those hugs and kisses would have to wait. In years past I would’ve sat sobbing. Crying out in anger to God. But my faith progression – knowing about those promises and believing in them – had brought me too far. Instead, I praised Him and thanked Him for getting me to the emergency room that day. For the quick work and able hands of the nurses and doctors. For the funny surgeon that got called in to fix the bleed. For the outpouring of love my family bestowed on me. For the first doctor, who months prior, was suspicious about my symptoms in an urgent care clinic visit and requested an unusual blood test that led to my initial diagnosis. For the view from my room. For the steady stream of God’s helpers.
He is with me. He is with you. It may be hard to see Him right now. But that kind smile when you need it, the annoying person who leaves you with a message in your memory, the open or closed door – it’s all Him. Look for His work and you will find it.