My Father's Joy

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."
I Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)

"Honey, are you okay?"

I held my breath, not knowing if I really wanted to hear the reason for the half-stifled sobs of my son as he lay in the darkness on his bed. I cannot stand to hear my children's hearts breaking--especially when I feel powerless to do anything about the cause of the hurt.

I could hear him gulping down huge breaths in order to regain his composure as he tried, in vain, to quit his crying. The fact that he was ashamed of my knowing about his tears made me even more distressed. I lay down beside him, stoking his hair off his forehead.

"Can you tell me what is wrong?"

There was a long silence. I could tell he was debating on whether to continue trying to carry the weight by himself or to be an eight-year-old boy and be comforted by my embrace. I decided to make the choice easier for him by putting my arm under his head so that he was resting on me. He snuggled in close.

"Mom, people don't like me at school. I don't have any friends."

That conversation was the first of many over the ensuing months in the darkness of his room. Somehow, no light made it easier for my son to share his heartbreak with me. I found out that he had become the victim of continual, daily bullying by two other boys. The trauma had left him with little hope and great despair. My son is reserved and shy, but his loyalty runs deep once he has found a friend.

I have to confess that I was glad for the darkness also--because, girlfriends, its cover prevented my son from seeing the tears that ran down my face as we asked Jesus to change the situation. Many long months followed with prayers repeatedly asking for the Lord's intervention. Although I took measures to make sure that those in authority were aware of the bullying, I could not protect Chase while he was away from me.

Over and over again I would assure my sweet boy that God knew what He was doing and that He heard our prayers. I told Chase again and again that there was a greater purpose for the pain than we could presently see--that we would see someday. I'll tell you the truth--after months of not seeing any change, I started to wonder if doing it God's way was the best. The year ended. Justice had not prevailed in my eyes or in my son's either.

I know that someone needs to be encouraged today. Like me, you are wondering when God is going to turn the pain you are in around. You have claimed His promises over and over in your situation. But you still have a marriage in crisis; you still don't have a job; your house was foreclosed on, and you don't know how you are going to pay all those bills.

Today, three years later, I was sent these words from the principal of my son's school. I do not share this to boast, although I am proud of the hard-won wisdom Chase has learned from the school of suffering. The Lord has given my beloved son empathy for others that could be learned no other way. I brag in the power of my Jesus to rescue at the eleventh hour, to renew hope when all seems lost or forgotten, and who loves to redeem what could not be bought back, no matter how much we paid for it:

Chase Lantz is a sixth grade student. He was recently selected as Student of the Month for the sixth grade. This is an honor that only 9 sixth grade boys receive during the school year. This testifies to the excellent character and work ethic that Chase has shown in his first year in middle school. He is a credit to his family, his school and his community. Chase displays leadership skills, academic talent, and willingness to serve others.

Oh, my sweet sister, don't you know that your Abba has tenderly listened to your sobs in the darkness? Even though you may not have realized it, He has longed for you to rest in His tender embrace. Doing things His way is the only way to lasting joy. And when He exalts, He does it in a way that brings glory to Himself and lifts us up, too. Don't give up, even though He seems slow in His salvation of you, His beloved child. You are cherished and honored by your Jesus today. That is the truth! If you continue to hold on, you will bask in your heavenly Father's joy. There is nothing better in all the world than that.

Jesus, You never leave us in our pain. You fully embraced the limitations of human flesh when you became a man and walked this earth. Although You never ceased being God, You cried when Your friend Lazarus died. Your tiredness led you to sit down at a well where You told a woman everything she had ever done and she believed You were the Messiah for the encounter. When the Roman soldiers beat and whipped You, blood spilled from Your wounds. You have experienced every heartache of each individual life. And although Your salvation seems slow in coming sometimes, that is only my own skewed perspective of the trial. It is not the truth! Help me to live today believing that You are fully in control of the pain. One day, You will be exalted in the trial. Help me hold on for that day!