Being a recording artist means spending a lot of time in Nashville, which also means spending a lot of time in the car. I think I know every rest stop, gas station, and hotel between Michigan and Tennessee! My rusty Honda Civic is showing its age, so last summer I decided to rent a car for the five-hundred-mile trek.
Normally, a rental car comes with a full tank of gas, so imagine my alarm when after only driving a couple of hours the fuel light came on and I realized the tank was nearly empty! So I prayed and asked the Lord to get me to a gas station before running out of fuel. As I rolled into the nearest station, I saw a young man standing in front of the building in great distress. He was crying and yelling into a phone for someone to call an ambulance. Concerned, I approached him and asked how I could help. He just wept and put his head in his hands. “Can I pray for you?” I asked, and he looked up with eyes that begged yes! So not knowing what to pray for, I began to plead with God for mercy, for rescue, for help, and for comfort. Somehow my heart could feel the man’s anguish. As I finished, his girlfriend explained that his sister had died of a drug overdose just a few moments before I arrived.
Heartbroken, I gave the couple my contact information, and I assured them I would keep praying. I told them about my son who had overdosed twice on drugs and lived. I told them I believed God would save the young man’s sister. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This time, the Lord did not answer my prayer the way I had hoped. As I drove away, I asked God the deepest question of life, “Why? Why didn’t You save her?” The answer to my prayer was a deafening silence above the hum of the car engine.
In the silence, I began to understand that perhaps God had not brought me there for the girl but rather for her brother. What are the chances my rental car would run out of gas in that place at the exact moment she would die? God so loved this young man that He sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to bring comfort through me! He experienced the compassion of Jesus that day—Emmanuel, God with us. Until we reach heaven, we will live with pain, disease, death, and disappointment. Jesus did not come to take away our sorrow, He came to enter into our sorrow and bear it with us.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isa. 53:4a)
When we pray, sometimes we receive the answer we desire and sometimes we don’t. The kingdom of heaven isn’t always about the happy answer! The kingdom of heaven is the presence of God with us in every moment—in our joys and especially in our sorrows. As Christians, we are not called or even able to fix the world’s problems. We are called to share in the world’s sorrows and bring God’s comfort.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor. 1:3–4)
Perhaps the glory of God is not always revealed in a flashy display of power. Maybe the glory of God is a hand on a weary shoulder or a prayer on the side of a lonely road. How merciful of the Lord to reveal His great love to us when we need it most and then use us to share His love with our hurting world.
Father, thank You for sending Your only Son to die that we might have life through You. Thank You for giving Your Spirit to comfort us and that You comfort others through us. Use us today to show Your love to someone who needs it! In Christ’s name, amen.
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