My husband and I just returned from a trip to Houston, Texas. It has been about five in a half months since the hurricane, named Harvey, flew through the town and dumped 52 inches of water in a 24 hour period. We found the people we spent time with still wanted to process their losses and their exposure to such a devastating calamity. We heard stories of friends being rescued from their homes, alligators swimming through the streets and dangerous snakes slithering about through houses that were flooded. We heard of people losing everything and their houses being completely cleaned out and all their belongings dumped on their front lawns. We are not from the area so they were eager to share their stories and process their pain. Some ask the hard questions like why did this happen? Where is God in the midst of the dreadful affair? What is the point and purpose? How do we find hope in such a heartache?
As I have processed my own painful heartaches, I have asked those same questions. I have wrested with God and argued and debated about why did he allow or cause this tragedy to happen? I’ve cried in my closet on my knees pleading with the Lord to heal a situation or change the direction of an oncoming loss. I’ve yelled at God and I have laid completely prostrate on the floor crying those deep gut like cries. I have asked the same question... how do I find hope in this midst of this heartache?
The Lord always, without fail, takes me to his word and normally I turn to the Psalms. The book of Psalms is full of verses that show us where we find our hope.
I love the Psalms. I started reading the Psalms, consistently, 20 years ago. I started reading the Psalms when my three year old son, Hayden, fell into a pool and I did not notice him right away to rescue him. I heard someone coughing and I looked down and their he was flailing in the water. I jumped in immediately and picked him up and the first words out of his mouth was, “you didn’t get me.” As a mom, my heart was broken. I didn’t rescue him soon enough. I felt like a failure. The guilt was killing me. We went home and I just kept reliving the story and Hayden’s response, “you didn’t get me.” I went to bed that night and I could not sleep. I tossed and turned and relived the story. Finally I got out of bed and went downstairs and picked up my bible. I turned to Psalm 121. We all know that famous Psalm. Some of us know it from the movie Sound of Music. This is what I read.
I lift up my eyes to the hills–
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip–
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you–
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm–
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
As I read through the passage, I began to understand it from Hayden’s view point. Hayden’s help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. It is the LORD that is his helper. It is the LORD that watches over him. It is the LORD that will neither slumber or sleep. It is the LORD that is the better protector over Hayden than me. Does that mean nothing bad will ever happen to Hayden? No! Suffering is part of the process that brings us closer to the LORD. In fact, Hayden has had several broken bones, he has a lot of losses in life that are deep heart aches. But what is it the LORD is ultimately protecting him from? “He protects him from evil.” If Hayden is walking with God, seeking to live a life of righteousness, and chooses to persevere with the LORD, Hayden will spend eternity in heaven with the LORD. Josh Moody writes, “There may be painful things, but if you entrust yourself to God, then you will never experience any final or true evil.”
I learned to pray for my kids differently after I read Psalm 121. I started praying that the LORD would be their protector from evil. I pray that they will walk passionately with the LORD. I pray they would be honest with themselves, honest with God and honest with others. It is God that is their ultimate hope in a broken world and I pray they hold onto Jesus the author and protector of their faith.
I made mistakes as a mom. I was not always with Hayden to protect and rescue him. I tried my hardest to notice when he fell into a pool or ran out into the street. Over the years I’ve had to release and rely on the LORD to be Hayden’s spiritual protector. When Hayden turned 19 he chose to become a Marine. He has since finished his duty to our country. My prayer for him, because of what I started to pray when he was three years old, was the LORD would be his protector from evil and that he would seek the LORD with all his heart, mind and strength. I did not even worry about his safety or that he was going to get hurt or killed. It is the LORD that does not slumber or sleep. It is the LORD that watches over Hayden. It is the Lord that protects him from evil. It is the Lord that gives him hope.