You who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you (Isaiah 46:3-4).
I recently received an email from an old friend. He’d found some photos he’d taken of me more than 36 years ago. I’d forgotten how young I once looked. Or how much hair I used to have.
I thought about those photos this morning as I read through Isaiah. As I read, I let my mind wander back over the nearly four decades of my walk with Christ. I’ve seen many answers to prayer during those decades. Recovered health. Marriages mended. Children reconciled. Lost, found. Embittered given hope.
And I’ve seen many prayers go unanswered - or at least, not answered in the way I’d asked. Illness brought death to family and friends despite my fervent prayers for healing. People I love lost their jobs, their marriages, their children . . . and not a few lost their faith.
I confess God confuses me.
Actually, that is too tame a statement. And not entirely true.
More than confuses, sometimes God angers me. Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a boat tossed by heavy seas, swamped by mountainous waves and I cry out, “Lord, don’t you see? Don’t you hear? Don’t you care?”
After thirty-eight years of this journey with God, I know He sees. I know He hears. And of course, I know He cares.
I know these things, despite the prayers that still go unanswered. I know it because . . . well – now that I deliberately think about it – I suppose it’s because He has granted me faith in the face of the waves. He has graced me with trust despite my confusion – and my anger. He has nurtured in me confidence even when it seems I have no reason to be confident. Not that I am anyone special that He would grace me in such ways. Instead, I think He helps my faith, trust and confidence simply because I need His help so badly.
I looked at myself again in those early photos and, from the perspective of my graying years, I realize God was with me all the time, in each sorrow, through each storm, through doubt, and anger, and unanswered prayer.
That I couldn’t see Him, or hear Him, doesn’t mean He was absent.
I still, to this day, do not know why people for whom I beg God for mercy die, or why families shatter, or spouses leave the Church, or . . . or . . . or.
All I do know . . . all I choose to know . . . is this granite-like promise: Even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.