When little Sojourner found herself paralyzed with fear at the finish line of the Kiddy-Car ride in the park, she was inconsolable. It did not matter how much sense her five-year-old sister had made about what Daddy had told her, Sojourner was not going to budge. She did not want to talk about it; she wanted to be delivered from the situation. In her three-year-old reasoning, she would be impaled on those long spikes if she drove her car over the finish line and that, simply, was not going to happen. So, while her older sister returned to her own car and crossed the finish line like a big girl, Sojourner just escalated her panic. Her shrieking cries for Daddy to help her netted an immediate return. Over the spikes came those long legs and out of the car pulled those strong arms to deliver her from the perceived danger. (If you missed that post, it can be found earlier in this series under Scene 3 When You Are Three, You Are Not Brave)
But, as we all know, the little girl (or woman) who is in danger is not always pulled to safety or taken away from the danger at the time she utters her cries. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way and she goes through the danger that was real and not just perceived. This is so very hard to understand with the mindset we have about these things.
I read a book written by a doctor who had served many years in the middle region of Africa. So many of the towns women had been gang raped by the rebels who terrorized the people whenever they chose to do so. So many, many broken women and families. She tried to minister to their emotional, as well as medical needs but found herself inadequate when it came to reaching their emotional needs. They just couldn't talk about it to anyone; so great was their shame.
Then came the night when it happened to her; she was gang raped by those same violent men. She had to be evacuated back to Europe for treatment where her thoughts of "Why did this happen to me? How could God let this happen to me?" plagued her mind day after day. She was serving God in this foreign land to help these people He had called her to serve in the hospital and this was what happened to her? Why?! If God is always watching, then why did this happen? Why didn't He stop them? We can be sure that this dear missionary doctor, committed to serving the Lord just where He had placed her, called out for His intervention to spare her this terrifying experience. Did her cries fall on deaf ears? Why didn't the Father, Who cared for her, Who knew her and Who called her His child help her? Where was He when she needed Him more than ever before in her life?!
At the age of twenty-three I was a student in a graduate program for Christian Studies in Canada. One crisp and sunny January afternoon I found myself in the passenger seat of a VW Beetle with a serial killer at the wheel. He had all kinds of awful things planned for me before my life would end and he would go on with the rest of his day. However, my Heavenly Father rescued me before he had a chance to reach the place of torture. Why? Why was I delivered from the hands of this killer, while the other lady mentioned above was not spared the agony of the gang rape? Why was I so special that God rescued me and not her?
In addition to the above incident, there are other events recorded in my book, Dealing with Our Fears when Letting Go Seems Impossible, where my own life was spared. Why? Why was I the one spared when so many times others in the same situations died? Perhaps, you have asked the same question for yourself or for someone you loved? "But, if You love me, if I am Your child… why is this happening to me? Or why did this happen to me?
How I wish that I could just reach into your life and pull out the perfect answer that would quiet all those doubts and heal all those hurts! I can tell you with complete certainty, God loves you and God is just! The one who hurt you will be brought to justice by the Father Who created you, in His perfect time. Okay, but why didn't He just stop the thing from happening in the first place?
Remember that our life on this planet is not all there is to life; it is only a part of the life God created for you. Remember that God has a plan for your life and, yes, sometimes even the most awful things can happen while you live the part that is played out on this earth.
In the account above, I can offer a possible explanation why the Father stood by and cried with the missionary lady instead of sending bolts of lightning down on the heads of these evil men. The lady doctor had wanted to reach the increasing numbers of women suffering from the consequences of the gang rapes but just could not find a way into their silent pain. When she was finally, physically and emotionally, able to return to her post in Africa, she was immediately surrounded by the very women in the town she had been trying, unsuccessfully, to help. Now they were ready to talk with her; she knew what they had endured and she would be able to understand. Her own experience had given her the "right" to discuss this most offensive act with the women who had suffered as she had. Through the healing that the Lord had brought into her own life, she was able to really help many of the other ladies into that same release and healing. There is no doubt that she would have preferred that the incident had never happened to her but she saw just how the Lord had used it to help her truly serve those who had the most need. Without it, she might never have been able to reach them with God's healing for their emotions and broken spirit.
We need only to look at the Scriptures to answer some of the "why" questions. One might ask "Why did John the Baptist die at such a young age, and in such a horrendous way, when his parents had waited so long for a child and would, no doubt, need him in their own elderly years? Why did Jesus, Who was doing so much good for so many people, die after only three years of ministry? Why did the young Steven find himself being stoned to death just when his own ministry was going so well? The answer to all three is the same: the mission for which the Father had sent them to earth had been completed. John came to announce the arrival of Jesus. Jesus was now fully launched into the ministry so it was time for John to return to the Father and enjoy his reward. Jesus came to earth for a specific mission… to make a way for us to have forgiveness for our sin and reclaim that relationship with the Father that had been lost because of sin. Jesus lived a sinless life, laid down his life as a perfect sacrifice for us once and for all time, and returned to the Father. Stephen had a lot of reasons for staying alive and continuing his ministry on earth, according to our own way of thinking, but one of the reasons he had come was to make a way for the young Saul to come to the Father. Remember the story, Saul held the coats of those who were stoning Steven to death and later would recall this as the Lord began to correct the errors in Saul's thinking. Saul was astonished to see that Steven had a beautifully peaceful smile on his face and even asked God to forgive those who were stoning him. My own thought is that Steven did not feel the pain of the stones because the Father was already speaking to him that it was time to come on home. The Saul who watched Steven die, was to become the Paul who planted so many, many churches and whose letters were recorded as a major part of the New Testament! The Lord had put these men on earth for a specific purpose. When that purpose had been accomplished, he called them back home. We may be much smaller cogs in the wheels of today's world but the situation is still the same. We have been created for a purpose by the Father Who loves us. Some of the journey to fulfilling that purpose is not easy but it is necessary to see the Father's plan for each of us accomplished. Therefore, Father God holds our hand, cries with us and leads us through the pain.
****Part VI: Surrendering All… Coming Tomorrow