A little over a year ago, a few short days before Lucy was due, I received a phone call I will never forget. “I just lost my job,” my husband said into the phone. I felt my face and heart fall simultaneously.
We knew the day was coming. Things were unsettled at his job, and though he had been there for ten years, he had been warned that things weren’t looking good. Still, when word came that they were eliminating his position, it still swept our feet out from under us does an unexpected, violent wave. Days before a baby’s arrival, that old companion Worry began to unpack his bags. What were we going to do?
Some people have the gift of faith. I do not. I struggle to trust God, not matter how many dire situations he’s pulled me out of. I am a classic pessimist, and when things are going well for a while, my smile begins to fade and I begin to wonder when the other foot will fall. I doubt. It’s a problem.
Yet, in this situation, I somehow had this feeling that things were going to resolve. Perhaps it was because I felt a need to be the strong one since Kevin was grieving. In any case, the hurt was real, but even more so the strange knowing that it was going to be all right.
To make a long, wonderful story short, within a week of being let go, Kevin was pursued and hired by a company he has long respected and admired. He was interviewed on Lucy’s due date and offered a position that would provide for our needs. For a month, he was able to have an extended, God-ordained paternity leave, something I will always look back on with gratitude and awe.
And today his his one year anniversary of working for that wonderful place.
What a gift it is to now look back on that season of uncertainty, knowing that God’s way was better than ours, that we had sown a tiny seed of faith, and he has made it grow into a harvest of blessing.
When I was a small girl, I used to sleep on the edge of the bed, making sure there was room for Jesus to snuggle in next to me. I had such a real, tangible faith, one that loved and believed in Jesus’ presence and God’s goodness, that I look back with longing.
Of course, Jesus would proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to children; they are the only ones trusting enough to receive it without question, they are the ones who have not yet been fully allured by the world and its false and disappointing gods or the illusions of independence and autonomy.
Yet, aren’t well all still children? At our core, aren’t we yet vulnerable people that fear sleeping alone in the dark? Aren’t we aware that we can’t truly control anything? Aren’t we little ones that long for the love and affection and protection and provision of a kind and attentive Abba?
I think because I spend twenty-four hours a day caring for small children’s needs, I often forget my own dependency on God, forget my own longing to be gathered up in his arms. I often forget that as he feeds the birds and he clothes the flowers, and that he will also do that for me. I forget that on rough days, I can climb into his lap and cry and receive comfort.
The other day, I was talking to Levi about that horrible story of sin coming into the world, and trying to figure out how to explain it for such a small, innocent mind. In the end, I focused on the hope that some day, God himself will wipe the tears away from our eyes.
What an amazing and glorious image this is. Every pain will be healed, every sorrow comforted, every cause for doubt eliminated by the very presence and hand of God.
A Good Father
But it’s easy to forget that God’s heart is to do that for us now. He may be seeking to comfort us through the arms of a loved one, through the beauty of his creation, through the testimony of his goodness, even through a closed door.
I think so often we fall prey to a false doctrine of God’s character as father. We see him as a distant, detached, “stop-crying-and-buck-up” kind of a parent. Or as one who is unreliable and inconsistent, never there when we need him. Or as one who is constantly disappointed by our failures, one whom we are unworthy of being loved by. Or as one who takes advantage of us and our devotion to him and brings about suffering in our lives. But these are all images of human parents, people tainted by sin. Too often, we project these tainted qualities onto God instead of seeing him as the perfect Father he truly is.
A Father who is always with near us and will never leave us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
A Father who knows us intimately because of his nearness. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139: 1-5
A Father seeks to heal our hurts. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
A Father who lovingly cares for and satisfies us. “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9
A Father takes delight in us. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
A Father who loves us unconditionally. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
A Father who runs to us, even when we are unworthy. “‘I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:18-20
A Father who gives us good gifts. “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
A Father who doesn’t expect or require anything from us except for a relationship with Him. “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’ as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.'” Acts 17:24-28
Remembering God’s Goodness
Over a year ago, when Kevin lost his job, I often read through Psalm 37. It grounded me, especially when I was filled with frustration and anger at the situation. The verses that particularly stuck to me where 23-26: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.”
Of course, there will be moments when we fall. We live in a broken world, full of worry and struggle and pain. But I love this image of God holding us up, as a parent holds up a toddler when he is learning to walk.
I am still, I suppose, young, but have over thirty years of experience that says that I, like the psalmist, have seen God’s faithfulness in the life of our little family. In a time when I thought we may be begging, he stepped in and provided, and he did it with great love and compassion.
As he has done for us, so he can do for you, dear reader. All that’s required is a bit of faith in the character of our good Father.