"When Jesus restores such a loss, He gives a fulfillment that is a
little bit of heaven - a peace that passes all understanding.
From our side it is only necessary to surrender."
~ Corrie ten Boom
Hope is found in the little things. Life is turned upside down, earth-shattering events and circumstances stab mercilessly, senselessly; yet the tiniest whisper of a prayer is answered with the assurance that He hears me. I do not cry aloud to empty air. The God who spun the universe out of nothing counts the hairs of my head; catches the tiniest sparrow before it falls to the ground. He feels the unspoken longings in my heart, and He answers. Always, He answers.
Days after we heard the news of our sweet baby's death, my kitty and faithful companion for 12 years had to be put down. We didn't know what was wrong with her, couldn't fix her, had done all we could. As I tore her paws from around my neck (literally), forced her into a white box and surrendered her to the anesthesia technician, I had just one brokenhearted thought: Maybe someone will see her and love her and not want to kill her. A few days later we got a phone call. The vet at the shelter had seen kitty, taken pity on her and wanted our permission to treat her. She was still alive! After a week of unsuccessful treatment Tigger was put to sleep, but my grieving heart was calmed. The Lord had heard my prayer, had sent someone to have mercy on my kitty and try to do what I couldn't. I was at peace knowing that she really was sick beyond repair and I wasn't a horrible kitty parent for putting her down.
He cares for the sparrows. He cared for Tigger. He cared for my aunt's chicken who wandered off in 10 inches of snow and, miraculously, was found alive and well the next day. He cared for my tiny baby and for me; while Hope was not granted life, He answered my prayers for a natural and uncomplicated delivery at home - even when doctors told me I was insane for waiting indefinitely and not taking surgical or medical action.
This has been a year of disappointed dreams. We are in a new house, in a new place, searching for a new church, with job uncertainty and future uncertainty and so far away from the people we love. Our baby is gone, our kitty is gone, and once more Nathan faces the grad school application process and hopes for a better result. As I think of how we had wanted things to be right now, I am reminded that not a single prayer of ours has gone unanswered. So often we define God's nearness, His goodness, by our version of what we want - how we think He should intervene. When we get what we want, God is good! He loves us! When life appears to be spinning out of control, the rug of security is ripped out from under us and suddenly we are tormented with questions of all we ever believed in. Where is God? Why doesn't He answer us? If He were good, wouldn't He step in and stop this?
I look back over this past year and am reminded that God ALWAYS hears. He ALWAYS answers. He is a near and present help in trouble. He may not answer in the way we hoped, but that answer is simply "no" - it is never no answer at all. This year I have had to surrender so much - even having a "right" to know why God did what He did. All I can do is trust. And rest. I am safe in the arms of my Shepherd; no matter what storms are thrown at me, He WILL carry me through. "When He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice." We hear His voice. We follow the path laid out for us through gentle, guiding "yes's" and "no's." We lay down our insistence to understand. And we are at peace.