How to pray in difficult times
The Valley of Baca
He is watching over me
What is that halo/ring around the moon?
- Rings Around The Moon
When I was young, my great grandmother would joke that the halo around the moon was a sign that the dead great and small were sitting at the throne of God for some kind of judgment.
Praise You In The Storm
Our Late Aunt Grace
Psalm 84:5 "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You. Whose heart is set on
Psalm 84:6As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring ; The rain also
covers it with pools.
Psalm 84:7They go on from strength to strength; Everyone of them appears before God in Zion."
Sometimes I would like to sit down and share something really different from the Bible. I would like to do an exposition on truths that I am always learning from the word of God, but so far, it seems God wants me to share my prayer life and experiences with my brothers and sisters. I am content with that for now.
Praying is a joy and a pleasure to those who have settled down to what God wants them to do; who have accepted the call and chosen to remain in it. Since Prayer is direct interaction with God to the exclusion of everything and every one else; like any close relationship, when something contrary to what we think our relationship should be like occurs, we react: Inevitably.
How we react to the things that are thrown across our paths in our relationship with God to a very large extent depends on how deeply and well we have known each other. For the praying Christian, trials will come and they almost always strengthen our faith. However, in the time that they come, trials look like obstacles because they test our faith in God the Father whom we know to as loving, hearing and comforting.
In June of this year I lost a very close aunt, one I shared my childhood with and who was to me like an older sister. I loved her with my whole heart and during her 8 years of pain, my prayer to God was that she be healed. Every day I was in the closet I lifted her up before God and prayed that one day we would meet again. I last saw her in 1999. She lived far away in Kimberley, South Africa and oh how I yearned to see her one more time, to sit and listen to her stories, laugh and sing with her again. I wanted to meet her very badly and I believed God would grant me such an opportunity. Had I not asked as the Bible says?
On June 9th this year I entered my prayer closet and as I prepared to start praying, I immediately saw in my spirit my aunt standing face to face with my grandmother who passed away in 1998. They looked like people in a conversation. The spirit within me witnessed that my aunt was fine in that place where she would no more be sick, it was all over; I checked myself quickly rebuking what I thought was doubt, thoughts alien to my faith. I then knelt down and fervently prayed for my aunt, that God would touch her, heal her and I would see her someday, here on earth.
Later that afternoon I learnt that my aunt had passed away the previous day in the morning, when we here in America were still in bed, sleeping at night. My initial reaction was anger and then a storm of tears. I was not angry with God just very disappointed at the circumstances and at myself for having thought I would see her again.
However, God in His mercy had done a lot to make sure I was in touch with my aunt in that year prior to her passing. We had been completely out of touch for many years but that year we talked a lot. Three weeks before she passed, she opened up her heart to me and each time we talked I had the opportunity of encouraging her in the Lord, talking to her children and husband. We had such a wonderful time together on phone; it was like when we were growing up. The last time I talked with her, I had the strangest feeling as I said goodbye. It would be the last and final bye, bye this side of life. I wanted to talk with her a little longer but it was time to go, my minutes were running out and would need to use them to talk to someone I needed to do me a favor for her. So, goodbye it was, a final bye.
When God in His word tells of how we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children, He advertently tells us that He is a good God who would not give us a serpent when we asked for a fish or a scorpion when we asked for an egg. He will always give us what is good.
In the past few weeks I went through an experience that though not new to me was altogether unique; it was a trial that challenged my faith in the ability of God to answer my prayers. In this week as I reflected on the trial I was facing, I clearly began to understand that God may not give us exactly what we are ask for when we do but He never gives us anything that would poison or destroy us. It may not look like the best at the time, but just like a child that cries to eat food it is allergic to, what we get is what is best for us whether or not we know or like it.
Some trials come to test all areas of our lives and can leave us much more stronger or weaker. Last night I took a walk to the grocery store near my home, I just wanted to be alone with God and talk with Him. My baby who is 6 years old insisted that she wanted to come along. Well, I took the walk with her and it was over 3/4s of an hour when we made our way back to the house in the dark cold night. I became quiet, reflecting on my recent loss and feeling rather lonely. On my way to the store I had told Jesus that I knew He was with me even if sometimes I did not feel like that. This time as tears welled in my eyes, I felt like all that is familiar was so far away. I wondered what would become of me and how I would handle the many things that I was facing and those that my family is going through. While I embraced his assurance and call to trust him, it was as if immediately, he told me to look up. I raised my eyes, something I rarely get to do here in this country especially on a dark cold night. As I looked up, I saw the most amazing sight; the moon 2/3s its normal size sitting in the middle of a large perfect circle.
It has been a long time since I saw such a sight. When I was young, my great grandmother would joke that the halo around the moon was a sign that the dead great and small were sitting at the throne of God for some kind of judgment. Of course I know that is not true. You can check here what the halo around the moon is
I asked my little daughter to look up at the wonder in the sky; she was as mesmerized by sight just as I was. The moon looked so tiny in the middle of it all. Just as immediately as I had turned to look at the moon, I now saw this whole spectacle as a big eye looking down at me from the heavens. All my heart could say was that God’s eye was upon us, on this dark and cold night, in this dark uncertain world, God was looking out for us, His eye a bright light that guided and looked out for us. I told my daughter what I was thinking. She agreed with me and said that it sure looked like a huge eye!
As I entered the house, I could hear music coming from our Radio that my other daughter was playing. It was one of my favorite songs that I had not listened to in a long time, “Praise you in the storm”. I lost myself in the music and the message of the song realizing very quickly that God was all around me as all my questions and apprehensions of the previous minutes melted away;
I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
(From the song by Casting Crowns)
Oh the peace and joy of praising Him in whatever storm we may be facing. When we have learnt to lift our hands and Praise God in the storm when our hearts are torn apart, then indeed, we have found the real God whom to trust is to grow stronger. We will pass through our valley of Baca with its tears and sorrows but make a well in there knowing that victory is on the horizon. Praying in difficult times does not come easily but it does to those who know their God, who trust Him to do good even when the good He does looks different.
Trust and obey, there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. He will give strength, He will restore and above all He will guide us with His word. Let us learn to cry to Him in prayer and too to tell Him how it hurts, He will always come through sometimes even using the phenomena of nature!