Thursday, August 28, 2008

The New Club, Amputation, Relinquishment

On Thursday, August 21, we gathered at a cemetery in Nashville, the burial site of many babies. We had already said goodbyes to Luke at a church in Georgia shortly after his passing. Because Nicol and Greg are planning to relocate to Nashville, little Lukey was transported there. Jim and I arrived early, and we watched in disbelief as they moved the tiny casket from the vehicle to the canopy.

Greg and Nicol, Greg's parents, sister, nieces, friends from Georgia, our family, Jim and I, and other friends from the Nashville area gathered to commit Luke to a place he will someday triumphantly rise from whole and glorious.

A few days before Greg's family and we met at a restaurant. I anticipated this meeting more than I can say. Grieving has a way of bonding and unifying people like nothing I have ever experienced before. I couldn't wait to see Greg's mom and sister, dad, and nieces and knew that when we embraced I would cry for our profound loss but feel the comfort of their touch.

Vicki and I spoke together of the new club we never planned on joining, the club of grieving grandparents. Our membership was forced. I relished every moment with her the next few days. We compared notes--how we don't feel understood by well meaning and caring people who have not lost their grand babies; how, as we look into the eyes of these people, we see a yearning for everything to be "normal" again, to be back to what it was, or at least to be better. They so long for Greg and Nicol and Angie and Todd to heal NOW or be making some kind of quick, palpable progress toward that end. How many grieving people have I done that to?

We spoke of nothing being the same again, that it would never be the same again. Vicki said, "I don't want to ever be the same again." I agreed. If that were the case, then Luke's birth, life, and death would count for little if anything. The Africans have a saying. Kabisa bampasi ya beno. Divide up your sorrow with us. And that's what we did with each other. Not knowing many other grandmothers who have walked this road, we found it catharctic to share the new feel to our lives. Lengthy explanations were not necessary. We knew exactly what the other one was speaking of. It was wonderful, rich, unifying, and peace giving, but too short.

Several weeks ago I met with a dear friend who lost her 10-year-old son from a rare blood disorder. He was gone within a week. This November will be the 8th anniversary of his death. It is only now that she can speak of his death without crying, but the tears are not far from the surface. She described her loss in many ways, but one word has resonated in my ears since our meeting. Amputation. His death was sudden, horrific, and totally unexpected, like Luke's. he was cut off--amputated from their lives.

Amputation changes life forever. Three months down the line (we lost Luke on May 27), the paralyzing numbness is not as great as it was in the days following his death, but his severance has left us with the feeling of amputation. Just as the loss of an arm or a leg requires daily adjustments, daily relinquishments to a new life, and daily alterations to living, (and those days turn into years) so the death of a child forces those left behind to deal indefinitely with the changes resulting from such a great loss.

Personally speaking, we as grandparents must sit by and watch our children suffer. We are helpless to make it better. Fixing things is a parental instinct. Furthermore, we not only grieve our children's losses, we grieve the loss of their babies as well.

We can allow our hurts to take on a bitter hue or we can choose to relinquish this pain to the One who has a master plan. Tonight I am relinquishing not being able to take Luke and Audrey to the ice cream shop and watching them smear chocolate all over their little faces when they would have become toddlers. I am relinquishing their not being able to grow up together. I am relinquishing holding Audrey in my arms at the age of 3 months clothed in a beautiful frock I would have purchased. I am relinquishing watching the wonder in Kate's eyes as she takes in her little sister and the looks on Ellie's and Abby's faces as they sit holding Audrey on their couch. I am relinquishing seeing Luke doing all the wonderful moves a baby makes in his first five months, watching him smile, watching him recognize his mama and daddy, watching him trying to start to crawl and get ready to sit up, watching him so enjoy his bath. And what about the delight in my children's eyes as they track the progress of their babies at this stage of life. I relinquish that too, Lord. Oh God! It hurts.

And in my relinquishing, these words ring saliently in my head. Jesus wept. He doeth all things well, and precious, important, and of no light matter in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints, His loving ones. He will not come to me, but I will go to him. These truths cause me to relinquish my finite mind to His Infinity, to take His hand and hold on tight. To trust Him in the darkness and tell Him how desperate I am for Him. And He once again comes and soothes me with the balm of His Holy Spirit. Warm grace washes over my soul. He speaks Peace.

Here are two tributes to little Lukey, one by his uncle Jack and one by his daddy spoken at his committal service on August 21, 2008.

Memories of Lukey
July 12, 2008

Hi Guys,

Nicol, you asked me to write some memories of Luke a while ago, but I've been unable to write it in one sitting. Either the tears or grief would get in the way of my words and cause me to postpone continuing. It's been difficult considering the grief we have experienced the last few months. I have cried more in the last weeks than I care to remember. I cry because of the pain and loss you and Greg have suffered. But I also cry because of the joy Luke gave to me in our short time together, and I will miss not having more memories with him. I will cherish the short time we had forever and keep them in my heart. Luke's life has already profoundly impacted me. I realize more the gift my children are and when I am being consumed with the grind of life, I recall the memories I have of your sweet boy, and it stills my heart. His memory slows me down and gives me much needed perspective. Luke's life has left an imprint on the walls of my heart and it will continue to do so.

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Luke are his eyes. Not only were they a deep, deep blue but they held you captive. When your eyes met his, you had no choice but to stare. He was truly spellbinding! If it's true that the eyes are the window to the soul, then Luke had a bright one. His eyes were pure and beautiful and I believe it reflected what was in his heart.

He was also curious. At times he would look at me and it seemed like he was studying and trying to make a connection on how I fit into his life. I remember going to the Mexican restaurant with you and having his carrier set right next to me. I would glance over at him and catch him sizing me up. He truly attempted to understand what was surrounding him.

The memory of his smile comes to mind as well. The way his cheeks would indent, revealing his beautiful dimples, would melt anyone's heart. I felt so good when he laughed. I got such joy out of his expressions. Not only would he be able to tell a joke but could take one as well. I would have loved to have seen his humor come out as he grew up. I envision him being one of the boys and being around his uncles and daddy and being able to hold his own.

Even though I barely held him and had little time with him, I feel attached to him in a special way. With all the changes that Molly and I are contemplating and praying about, I believe the most important are the ones that draw us closer together. Luke's life and death is one of those events. It bonded mine and my wife's heart. Our hearts are broken and the events continue to disturb our faith, but all we are left with is the decision to trust. I don't understand God's timing or will. I will never attempt to explain Luke's short life. I do, however, value the life he lived and place a great deal of significance on the time I had with him.

I hope the knowledge of Luke's impact on our lives brings some comfort to your hearts. His memory will live on and will be cherished forever. We love you all so much and pray for you always. You are always in our hearts and on our minds.


Jack and Molly

We stand here today. . .
in a dreadful place
on a dreadful occasion
because of a dreadful loss
We stand here today. . .
ravaged by grief
our hearts have been trampled
we are wounded and broken
we bleed and we weep
there will be no forgetting, there is no escape
We stand here today. . .
without the luxury of choice
sinking toward depression wrestling with despair
brawling with anger
fighting our fears
We stand here today. . .
more intensely familiar
with death's lingering stench
more intimately acquainted
with the grave's vicious sting
more keenly aware
of life's grass-withering fragility
its flower-fading brevity
We stand here today. . .
struggling to reconcile
some of the things we believe
holding on tightly to those scarce certainties
we know to be true
asking questions never faced before
none more often than 'Why?'
except for 'How?'
in this world do we go on
We stand here today. . .
forever changed
never again the same
in some ways, bad
in all ways, eventually good
We stand here today. . .
beaten and battered
but not totally crushed
bewildered and confused
but not surrendering to our despair
and though there are questions aplenty
we have not been forsaken
and we are not destroyed
We stand here today. . .
having limped to this place
our hearts overwhelmed with sadness
over the profound loss of our precious Lukey
our minds filled with wonder
at what might have been
our souls buoyed with a new-found longing
for that place we call home
We stand here today. . .
reminded anew
that our soul's constant hunger
its unrelenting thirst
its persistent longings
its empty yearnings
will never be fully satisfied
'til Christ's promised return
We stand here today. . .
in a beautiful place
with all of Creation
as it raises both chorus and groan
of praise and of ache
up to the heavens, to the Father above
for who He is, for what is to come
We stand here today. . .
in an expectant place
for from this very spot
our 'Little Man' will rise
when Jesus comes calling
oh what a beautiful thought
Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, come even now
We stand here today. . .
grieving with hope
for we are not among those
who have nothing to look forward to

Greg Sponberg

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Missing Audrey and Luke

Tonight, after our youngest son, Jack, and his wife Molly and their two darlings left our house, I went outside and took a look at our neglected yard. Five out of the eight months of 2008 we have spent in Nashville and/or Georgia. Yard work has not even been on our radar. Who cares about the yard when you have lost two little souls?

We saw our beloved Audrey Caroline on April 7 for the first and last time, saying good bye to her just hours following her delivery. Todd and Angie welcomed their cherub with open arms and shouts of joy at her live birth. The doctors had given hope for a life expectancy of perhaps 2 or 3 minutes and predicted she would struggle for every breath. Instead, the Lord gave us 2 1/2 wonder-filled hours with little 3 lb. 2 oz. Audrey. She was free of suffering and never showed any signs of labored breathing. We all (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends) held her, prayed over her, told her how much we loved her, took in her lovely features, kissed her sweet baby face, explained we would never forget her, and sang over her. Peace filled the room. It was as if we were standing on holy ground; Jesus' presence was so real. Her heart simply stopped beating. We miss you so much, darling baby Audrey.

Just three weeks before we said good bye to Audrey, Luke Sponberg made his entrance into the world in Georgia. Greg and Nicol were absolutely thrilled to embrace this 9 lb., handsome boy. Thick, dark brown hair covered his perfectly round head after being delivered Cesarean. We were all so grateful for his healthy entry into this world with no complications. His future looked so bright. Luke's older sister, Summer, couldn't wait to get her hands on him as he was brought out of the delivery room in his daddy's arms. She kept saying, "hold it, hold it." Luke was the first Sponberg grandson. "The Sponberg name will live on," Nicol journaled.

Life is such a mixed bag. Here we were acutely aware of our precious Todd and Angie facing the impending loss of Audrey at any time now, while at the same time we were enjoying the blessing of a second grand baby boy in less than 3 months. Jack and Molly, had delivered their son on December 31, 2007. What an amalgamation of joy and sorrow and hopeful anticipation and horrible dread. We tried to prepare ourselves for Audrey's departure and concurrently take in the wonder of two new grandsons in this short span of time. We were so grieved for Angie and Todd but were exultant in the gifts of Jackson and Luke. Living became very complicated and emotions ran every which way.

Luke was with us for 10 short weeks, 71 days. As I stood in the yard tonight not knowing where to begin, I just began to sob. I sobbed yesterday as well as I walked Altar Road praying for my children who are forever altered by their losses, and asked the Lord to allow me to bear some of their terrible burden of grief. I numbly began raking leaves and remains of shrubs Jim had just trimmed. At first, I felt overwhelmed but knew some work had to be done. The for sale sign just pounded into the ground in front of our house kept gnawing at me to get enough strength together to make some progress. I set a small goal of cleanup and then noticed how weedy and grassy the ground had become around two huge walnut trees that grace our property. It felt good to dig into the soil with my bare hands and water it with my tears. Oh Luke! how I wish I could hold you again. I miss you so much, darling boy.

On Thursday, we will bury Lukey in Nashville very close to Audrey. The decision is explained by Greg on his blog. As I clear the ground around the tree, the grief hits hard and mercilessly. We already did this once, Lord. Why again? Why ever? A grandchild should never go before a parent and what about before the child's grandparents? It's so out of sequence. Why couldn't I have gone in Luke's place? Death is such an ugly enemy. God never wanted it. Man chose it.

Once again we look death in the face. It's a face none of us ever dreamed we would stare into so intensely, twice within seven weeks, relinquishing two babies. Truly, life here on earth has become a vale of tears. If this were all there were, Paul says he (as well as us) would be of all men most miserable. After 44 years in ministry, believe me, we know the best is yet to come. Audrey and Luke are more alive than ever before. Eternity never ends, and the real living will begin in Glory. No more good byes. No more tears. No more sorrow. Until then, as we continue to ache for them, we place our hand in the Hand of Jesus and allow Him to carry us. We will continue by the grace of God to lay our grief at the foot of the cross. Luke and Audrey have gone before, but for those of us grandparents who remain behind and have lost our grand babies, Isaiah 46:3 and 4 says, ". . . you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried since your birth, even to your old age and gray hairs. I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

Father, once again, your Word comes rushing to our aid. Thank you, Lord for rescuing us over and over again. Thank you for your sustaining right hand of righteousness. Thank you that despite the reeling grief, you promise you have your way in the whirlwind and the clouds are the dust of your feet. Thank you, Lord, that you are yourself a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank you, Father, that you and the Godhead intentionally decided on a plan of redemption for all of mankind, even though it meant sending your son to the cruelest and most humiliating of deaths--even the death on a cross. Jesus, you laid down your life willingly for us. What a hero you are. Thank you that you do not change. There is absolutely no shadow of turning with you.

There are so many things I cannot control. But I can choose to surrender. I can choose to allow you to rescue me. I can choose to trust you and continue to walk with you down this new path of sorrow. I can choose not to walk it alone. I can choose to call in my distress, and you promise to deliver me. You will answer me in the secret place of thunder. And just as you granted consolation and joy to those who mourned in Zion, so you will give me an ornament of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garland of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that I might be called an oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that you may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

Monday, August 11, 2008

What Laban Ministries Is

Below is a description of our work in Congo. I hope it gives you a handle on what we are all about.

Rooted in 70 years of missionary experience, Laban Ministries International finds its home in the heart of the African continent in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What began in 1979 with seven students in a one-room Bible school has grown into a thriving, vibrant ministry with over 500 graduates from the school's 3 year, 2 level program--the heartbeat of which is evangelism.

Located in Congo's heaviest populated Bandundu Province, an area the size of the state of Michigan, the Congolese students see the Scriptures come alive in theory and practice, as they reach out to multiple thousands of fellow nationals weekend after weekend through mass evangelism, The Jesus Film, the Evangelism Explosion Program, a one-on-one approach, as well as the more than 300 new churches started by graduate pastors of Laban Bible Institute.

The newest, most cost-effective evangelistic arm of Laban was inaugurated in 2004. Radio Glory, comprised of a 300' tower and modest studio, broadcasts the Gospel of Jesus Christ as professors, pastors, and staff of Laban Ministries enthusiastically preach the Gospel, beam Christian Music (opening and closing with Selah each day), teach Scripture, health programs, and share their life-changing testimonies 10 hours a day, 7 days a week to a potential audience of 5,000,000 people.

The Women's Literacy Center was added in 2004 with 13 students. It grew to 32 in 2005, and this past year 50 women attended, graduating our first class in 2007. Many who come read for the very first time, exchanging the ignorance caused by illiteracy for dignity and self-respect.

The next 3 projects on the horizon are wells for Congo, a hospital for over 200,000 people with no health care facility, and a Bible for every hut. The goal of this last project is to work toward making our Province of Bandundu the Province of the Bible.

The Amazing Faithfulness of God

As I sit at my computer to express what's on my heart, I am filled with excitement and amazed at the potential level of communication blogging offers.

Today my thoughts turn to the faithfulness of the God who knew my name before the foundation of the world, chose a great plan for me, called me into that plan, allowed me to develop to the point where I feel like an enthusiastic participant in that plan, and has seen that plan through just like Philippians 1:6 states. He has been my rear guard going behind me, nudging in the right direction, sometimes giving a little shove when fear overtakes me, picking up the pieces that I call fallout as I stumble because of the actions I decide to take, thus cleaning up the path as I journey along, and then he bolsters the plan with grace and mercy to show me it is all of Him to give Himself glory. You know, it's all about the glory--His glory, not ours. He must have glory, and He will not share that glory with anyone. Isaiah 42:8. Oh! how I pray He also receives pleasure as well from what He has wrought through this broken vessel. Lord. you are so worthy of the praise and adoration I am offering to you right now.

This plan, by the way, I would never have chosen because it included Africa, which as I grew up, was considered the end of the earth by my contemporaries. But the very thing I ran from until my mid thirties--becoming a missionary--was the absolute best vocation, most fulfilling occupation, and noblest objective ever dumped in my lap.

The Congo defining point rushed into our lives in 1977 in the form of a fire which devoured our 85-year old farmhouse located in the sleepy little town of Hesperia, MI, 25 miles north of Muskegon. The oil slick flames melted brass, exploded our furnace, and burst every window, leveling our home to the ground in just 20 minutes, while the two fire departments argued over whose district was responsible for handling this emergency. Its wrath driven by 40-mile-an- hour winds consumed 14 years of married life memories, irreplaceable 16 mm. film depicting ministry in Africa, and baptisms of the Bayanzi people, which heralded this tribe's awakening from 1947 to 1953. This incredible work was carried on by my husband's father and mother, Dr. and Mrs. Laban Herbert Smith, who are both buried in African soil.

Jim was a music evangelist at the time and from California he called our sister-in-law to be told that everything we owned but our car was destroyed on that cold November evening due to a leak in our oil space heater. He fell to his knees in the telephone booth and thanked God that he was returning to the ashes of his home rather than to 4 funerals. He asked me what I thought we should do. I took the pragmatic approach. It was obvious that we should take what insurance money we had and build another house on our 10-acre plot of ground. Then I made the mistake of asking him what He felt we should do. To my horror, he replied, "I think the Lord is calling us to Congo." Gasp, gasp. Plug ears. Deny what I am hearing. Fight nausea.

But as the next week passsed, my thoughts, my subconscious, and my whole being were filled with the question, "Where will we count the most?" An area that had been occupied by 20 missionary families in the sixties now claimed no one to minister to them. No one to carry on the dream of Dr. Smith who so wanted a center for Biblical training. No one to help them with their medical neeeds. No one to evangelize the hundreds of surrounding villages with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No one to bring hope and take them from where they were to where they could be in spiritual leadership and insight.

There were plenty of music evangelists in America. We really wouldn't be missed. What would I say to the Lord when I stood before Him and He asked me why I didn't obey His pivotal call that would forever change me inside out? How would it feel when he reviewed for me the many, many blessings and riches I would have missed out on because I chose to go my own way? Because I couldn't trust Him enough to take care of my family in the bush of Congo? How was it that I chose to settle for His second best? Would I tell him there were too many bugs? No malls? Too hot? Too homesick? Too sandy in the bush so my high heels would not do there, and I loved pretty clothes. The missionaries that stood out in my mind from my limited exposure were dowdy dressers. Too far from my children's grandparents and relatives? Too little mobility due to sandy or mud "paths" in the bush instead of paved roads. Or would it be that I felt I was never cut out to be a missionary? After all, I never walked the aisle at church as a teenager committing my life to foreign service. I ran in the opposite direction. I couldn't get far enough away from the thought of going to Africa to share the Gospel. And so how could I qualify? I wasn't worthy and just plain did not want to go. Therefore, how could God use someone who gave Him the cold shoulder and recoiled at His invitation?

Obviously, the Lord was not threatened in the least by my kicking and screaming which had just begun, by the way. His noteworthy ability in that day and this still stands to straighten out the crooked paths before me, to break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron and to give me the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places. Isaiah 45:2,3. Why? "So that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel who summons you by name." More than anything, way beyond taking the Gospel to a foreign land, he orchestrates a life for all of us that, if surrendered to, causes us to know Him at a deeper level. He desires more than anything else that we run after Him, that we seek His face, that we count Him as our vital necessity. That is our occupation as He planned it.

Much of my running was due to fear. He worked everything out and His touch on my fearful heart will be shared in another blog. Now 30 years later, I celebrate Congo all the time. It was and continues to be life changing. A big part of my heart is anchored to its people. What if I had continued to refuse His beckoning? Where would I be today? Where would my family be? Where would my marriage to my wonderful Jim be?

Stand with me in amazement today at God's faithfulness in your life. Remember that Christ died for us while we were yet enemies. We didn't pursue Him; He pursued us. He continues to chase after us, to hound us for our own good. Part of His faithfulness is described in Ps 32:7. "You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and SHOUTS OF DELIVERANCE." Furthermore, "the steps of a man who is in Christ Jesus are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way, and He busies Himself with our every step." Talk about faithfulness. No one begins to compare with you, Lord. My heart cries out to you, Father, with praise and adoration. If we don't praise you, the rocks will cry out. So accept my adoration as penned by John in Rev. 5:12, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive all the power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, and glory, splendor, and blessing."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Come. . . Jesus bids us come

By way of introduction, I am Nancy Smith. My husband, Jim, and I have served the Lord in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1978. We will be dipping into our adventures, lives in Congo, sharing the wonderful courage and heartaches of the Congolese with you, and much more. But for the present, I want to begin in the right now in our lives.

I am the mother of 4 incredible children who are married to 4 incredible spouses, whom I love with all of my heart. They have given us 11 beautiful grandchildren, and then two grand babies left us this year.

So I am taking excerpts from a letter written shortly after Luke died. Despite the sorrow-filled paths we are treading, we find ourselves surrounded by the hope and beckoning grace of God to come. What a beautiful invitation is at our disposal 24/7. Jesus simply bids us, Come. . . come. . . come. So Jesus we come. We come to sit at your feet, knowing you will take us as we are and bind up all our wounds.

We lost our precious Audrey Caroline Smith 2 1/2 hours after her birth on April 7. She is the daughter of Todd and Angie, our eldest son and dear daughter-in-law. Just 50 days later, on May 27, Luke, 10-week-old son of Greg and Nicol, our beloved son-in-law and daughter, was whisked into the arms of Jesus as he lay sleeping. His father, just across the hall, was praying for Luke's safety and well being, close to the time he was most like being transported. Sheer, raw, gut-wrenching grief has become our daily portion while walking through the valley of the shadow of death with our children.

With Audrey, the confounding pain and haunting bewilderment of hearing almost weekly that she was still not compatible with life, that she would be delivered with multiple birth anomalies--the greatest of which was renal failure--threw us and our Congolese brothers and sisters into the occupation of prayer for a miracle from our loving Father. Perhaps he would choose to glorify Himself by touching her body, growing her organs, and allowing her to survive. We prayed, fasted, and anticipated because God can anything. Our flickering hope lived on despite the consistent reports, "Nothing has changed." But the One who sees every sparrow fall chose to call her to Himself, thus giving her sweet little body relief and total healing.

News of Audrey's impending death first reached our ears on Jan. 7. As grandparents, we were still reeling from grief when at about 10:15 on the evening of May 27, Nicol called us saying that Luke was not breathing and that the rescue squad was feverishly working over him. Our ears and brains could not receive this terror, and we again fell to our knees, made several phone calls, and waited for THE CALL telling us that Luke had been revived. He wasn't. Their long awaited for, cherished first son was snatched out of their lives in a matter of minutes.

Shock, numbness, vacuum, the shroud of darkness, keen awareness of the evil one, and all that death leaves in its wake has been their lot. We know where He is. He is with Jesus. That is the issue that is so hard to bear right now. Because He is with Jesus, he is not here! He is gone. The normality of life is forever changed. How long before we see him again? How long before Nicol and Greg can hold him their aching arms? His passing means part of us has passed too. He took a little bit of all of us with him. The fact that he is with Jesus does not take the pain away. Nicol and Greg are living the dark night of the soul. They are bruised reeds who need time to walk through the fog of bereavement until they come to the other side. And who knows when they will reach the other side? Grief is such an individual, uncapped process. What will the other side be like? What will be their norm?

God deliver us from trying to wrap up our loss in a neat package with all the ends discreetly tucked away and secured by a big bow. Frayed, wounded nerves are dangling. Nicol's incision has not completely healed yet. She is experiencing a body reversal nature is fighting because she is supposed to be caring for her baby. Greg's dreams of playing golf with Luke and coaching him in basketball, and their aspirations and pure future delight in seeing Luke's life unfold must be relinquished. Grief is hard work.

The Lord does not tell us not to grieve. He tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope. God has a way of making Himself known as never before in crises, as blameless and upright Job stated. "I had heard of You only by the hearing of the ear, but now my spiritual eye sees You." Lord, we know that you hear our voice out of Your temple, and our cries come before You, into Your very ears. We believe by faith that you busy yourself with our every step. We cling to the truth of your words that say your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts beyond any that we can imagine. We are comforted by the fact that you are distressed in our distress, that not one tear escapes you but is preserved in a bottle and written down in your book, that you are our shield, our glory, and the lifter up of our heads, that you have your way in the whirlwind, that you are our portion, and in your light do we see light. We comfort ourselves with these bold acclamations because they are from you; we wallpaper our minds with them, pitch our tents in these thoughts, and we choose to bless and honor the strong tower of your name. We run into your name and are safe. You are past finding out, God. We bless your holiness, we bend the knee in worship, and we praise you because YOU ARE WORTHY.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. . .