2009 – Switzerland.
A young couple cradling their 8-week-old baby girl stood in the Zurich airport seeing her new grandparents off. They were probably speaking of looking forward to their next visit, promising to email photos and make regular phone-calls, when the parents noticed something wrong. Something wasn’t right with their baby.
Not long after, the baby girl was pronounced dead.
A few days later, Hubby and I sat in the pews of the only English-speaking church in Luzern, excited about worshiping with fellow Christians halfway ‘round the globe from home. Yet excitement turned into shock when the chairman of the morning service prayed for this grieving couple, sitting in the pew in front of us.
The intercession was over, and we stood to sing a hymn. With teary eyes, I began to sing along:
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong…”
At this point, the grieving mother dropped back down on her seat, sobbing loudly, her husband in his own pain, trying to console her.
My heart broke, my mind scarcely able to contain the knowledge of such tragedy and warring against witnessing their pain, but what I was about to see and hear next, was really beyond comprehension for me.
Hurting for her, I prayed silently, “O Lord…….” Yet, before I could even form a complete thought, the lady took a deep breath and stood right back up, and joined us, singing loudly through her tears:
“YES, JESUS LOVES ME! YES, JESUS LOVES ME! YES, JESUS LOVES ME! THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO!!!”
I myself could not continue singing. My whole being was captivated by what I saw. This woman will never hear her daughter say, “mama”, never know whether she would have looked like mommy or daddy or what her personality would have been. The promised photos, phone-calls, visits…life would never be the same.
For her to sing with such conviction, that Jesus loves her, while her baby’s body was still lying in a morgue all the way in Zurich, awaiting an autopsy, that she could sing with complete confidence in God’s Word, even as her heart was in a million pieces, was unbelievable, was beautiful, and amazed me.
I walked out of that church a changed person.
As Christians we claim to believe bible truths, truths about our God, but more often than not, we’d be hard-pressed to see the fruit of that belief in our lives.
Oh but we get by. Friends tell us how faithful we are when we go to church regularly and attend bible study, serve in ministry and say, “I’ll pray for you” to everyone. We “feel” so close to God when we sing along with that 12-piece worship band on Sundays. That should be enough worship/faithfulness for the week, right? Well no, it’s not.
I do not claim to have managed to do so myself, but what we should be striving towards is worshiping and trusting in God in all our actions, all our words, all our thoughts and every fiber of our beings, ALL the time. We are not called to outwardly “get by” so that we appear “Christian”, we are called to live lives in obedience to God, aiming only to please Him [Rom12:1].
Church, ministry and other outward actions, recited bible verses etc. are very often things that we rely on to reassure ourselves…or rather, convince ourselves that we are faithful to God, but what happens when God takes those props away?
I believe it is through our sincere, prayerful study of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit enables us to have faith in the Lord in all circumstances, because it is in the Spirit’s illumination (revealing) of the Word that we come to know the Lord. My teaching leader at BSF said: “It is essential to know something about the character of a person before you can trust them.” How true! We can only genuinely trust God if we know what it is that we trust about Him, right?
Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, “I could not possibly have faith like that couple in Switzerland! I might as well give up.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” and the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. [Luke17:5-6 NASB]
Dear reader, I can bear witness to the fact that God can and will use your mustard-seed-sized faith when you genuinely turn to Him. From family tragedy, hubby’s brain surgery, spiritual oppression/abuse and chronic pain, to marriage and motherhood etc, I have seen God graciously take my itsy bitsy faith and gift me with enormous faith to survive. Yes, faith is a gift, for we cannot possibly have faith in God without God’s enabling. All glory is His.
…Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [2Cor12:9b NASB]
I believe that is what I saw in the grieving mother. The power of Christ, dwelling in her, enabling her to soar in victory through her pain and suffering.
Yes, she will always grieve for her baby, but her genuine faith, though imperfect like our own, was accepted by God and increased, solidifying her confidence in Christ’s love for her, and I believe she has hung on, secure in Him through the storm.
2011 – Anywhere in the world.
What do you need to change about your approach to reading God’s Word?