As a single mother of three girls, my mom worked two jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. She worked in a high school cafeteria during the day and at a Walgreen Drug Store soda fountain, just a couple blocks from our house, at night. We lived in a few small rented rooms in a white clapboard house on a dirt road (literally right next to the railroad tracks!). It was a small town in Illinois at a time when children could play outdoors and roam the neighborhood safely. My sisters and I spent a lot of time watching out for one another with little or no adult supervision. (I was the self-appointed boss of us.)
When Mom arrived home from her evening job at 9:30pm we were to be bathed and in bed. On one particularly cold and blustery night, my sisters had fallen asleep quickly after we had crawled into the double bed we shared. I lay awake as a bare branch scratched across the window and its shadow darted around the room in the cold stark moonlight like a scraggly clutching hand. I was petrified. I prayed desperately that God would bring Mom home quickly. I buried my head under a pillow to drown out the terrifying sights and sounds. I was startled by a sound close by…I slowly lifted the pillow from my head… my heart was pounding in my 9 year old chest. The sound was dishes rattling in the kitchen. Mom was home. We were not alone…not on our own. Mom would take care of everything. I snuggled under the blankets, closed my eyes, exhaled, and went to sleep.
Several years ago I was in the midst of a very dark season in my life. It was one of those periods in life where I felt alone, anxious and hopeless. God seemed very distant and deaf to my prayers. I was trying to hold steady but felt so utterly lost. In the midst of this dark time, I received a card from a friend who I hadn’t heard from in years. She wrote that she had been praying for me and wanted me to know that God loved me very much, she did too, and I was not alone. She had no idea what was going on in my life, but wanted me to know that God saw me, heard my prayers, and was very present with me. Her card was a handle for hope. It was the sound of God rattling dishes in the kitchen. I was so grateful.
Could you use a bit of encouragement? I hope this can help. I guarantee that God sees you and cares. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done. He loves you because that’s who He is. It is easy to define God by our circumstances and feelings. Fortunately, He won’t fit in that box. He is God after all and He doesn’t change. He loves and He cares. If you’re in a tough season ask Him to rattle a few dishes to let you know He’s close and taking care of things. And think about who in your life could use a bit of encouragement. Take a minute to let them know that you care. We all need to be known and loved.
Feeling abandoned, alone or afraid is not unique to just you or me. It’s a human condition. There is a story in the Bible (Mark 4) about Jesus and his friends in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. A violent storm came up and they were petrified of sinking and drowning. Except for Jesus, of course. He was asleep in the boat. Asleep. They frantically woke him with the equivalent of “Hey! We’re drowning here! Do something!” Jesus did. He told the storm to stop and it did. The wind and the waves calmed. Cool…and possibly scary for the guys in the boat. Jesus was powerful.
God doesn’t always end the storms. Sometimes he just holds onto us as the storm blows through. We question His power or His love or His kindness when He doesn’t fix everything in an instant….another reminder that He is God and we are not. But He is always seeing, knowing and holding us. And He will do for us and in us what ultimately will work for our good.
The God who calmed their storm is present with you. He sees you. He knows you. He cares for you. It may not seem like it at the moment, but He is watching over you. Exhale. Lean in. Talk to Him (seriously). Trust that He cares. That’s His promise. When you feel alone, afraid, and even terrified, stop, quiet your mind and heart, and listen. The God who loves you is rattling dishes in your kitchen to let you know He is there and He will take care of you.
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.