Trials: An Answer in the Dark


I stood there in unbelief as the man forced open the screen door and stepped into my living room, pointing a gun at my head. My baby was asleep on the couch, hidden from sight, but my two-year-old clung to my leg. I told her to sit down by the door. She sat.

“God help me!” I prayed silently. “Save us from this man!”

Five minutes ago this guy had knocked, asking for a pencil and paper. I had only opened the door a crack, but that’s all he needed. Now he gestured with his gun: “Lock the door.”

My greatest fear was suddenly becoming real. But without thinking twice, I grabbed up my daughter and yanked the door open. The man, all 200 pounds of him, lunged at me and tried to shut it again. I dug my shoulder into his chest and fought him all the way to the driveway.

“Okay, okay!” he finally muttered. “I’m going.” He ran off.

The police arrived within minutes of my call. When I described the intruder, they glanced at each other uneasily. They knew this man. He had mutilated several women in the city. He hadn’t yet let a victim go.

“And how,” they asked, “could you get the heavy door open and fight him off, carrying a child?”

I know how. We have a wonderful Father who gives his angels charge over us, to deliver us from the evil one.

Wait!

Why didn’t God stop this man before he came in the door? Or better yet: Why didn’t he stop him while he was planning to harm me? God could have diverted his attention, broken his leg, given him a stroke, or indigestion — anything! But he let him come clear into my home. Why? I soon found out.

You see, I grew up as an overprotected only child, crippled with phobias. I lived in terror of the dark, of closed spaces, of spiders, and most deeply, of being left alone and defenseless. My mother had taught me that God was always near and heard my prayers, but for years my phobias competed with my faith.

Then I found myself newly married to a man being called into ministry. He worked his office job all day, then spent evenings and weekends visiting people and attending ministerial training. I was alone most of the time. I loved my husband dearly, but night after night I suffered miserably with fear.

Until, that is, the day the 200-pound attacker invaded my home. On that day, as I pushed my way past his bulk into the driveway, God reached in and lifted my phobias from my shoulders. Since that moment I have not feared being alone, or in the dark, or in closed spaces (although I still hate bugs). I know with all my “knowing” that God delivered me that day, not only from the man, but also from my fears.

Things happen for a reason when you are a child of God.

At what point did Joseph realize he was being sent to Egypt to save his family and thousands of other people? Was it when his brothers flung him into the pit? Or when Potiphar bought him as a slave in Egypt, or maybe when he landed in prison? No, not then.

When David ran from his enemies and his closest friends forsook and betrayed him, did he think he was just having a really bad day? Or did he know God was with him? David wrote Psalm 22, which we now know speaks of Christ’s sufferings and crucifixion. In his aloneness and despair, did David foresee the reason for his trials?

Think of Job! He knew some purpose was in the works. He staked everything on God’s righteousness and the hope that his life would turn out for good, even while he was losing everything that mattered to him.

The uncomfortable truth is, though, that we cannot always see any clear “reason” for our trials, even after some time has passed. I have other stories to tell that fit that category. We all do.

But God is bigger than each of our lifetimes. When we utter a prayer, like a small child crying for help in the dark, God sets in motion the forces necessary to answer that prayer. It may be soon, or may take a lifetime, but God is patient, and he answers our prayers so that the results endure for eternity.

Trust him in that, and keep praying. He’s on it.

Author: Marie Docken

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