An Ever-Present Help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

We’re all wired differently right? A great example -mMy wife and I both marvel at times at just how different our two kids are, and the very unique gifts and talents they’ve been given. Many times those differences are a joy and blessings, but sometimes the influence of sin and our fallen nature can turn those character traits and quirks into stumbling blocks. As I reflect on my own character and how that impacts my relationship with God, I often feel like “doubting Thomas.” You know - the disciple that wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen until he saw with his own eyes the hole in the side and scars on the hands and feet.

I really struggle at times to relate to a person I can’t physically see, touch, or feel. When I’m struggling or going through times of hardship, I sometimes feel my cries to God are hollow and empty - religious ritual rather than genuine communication with a real and present Heavenly Father. Despite this, I continue to cry out to God, because in my heart I do believe he’s real and he hears, even though my feelings don’t always align with my belief.

My devotional for today is titled “An Ever-Present Help;” it comes from Joni Eareckson Tada’s devotional “A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day.” She shares the story of a man named Doug who had heart surgery and unexpectedly found himself facing a deep, dark depression during his recovery. During a walk one day he stopped and prayed this simple prayer, “God, please lift this depression from me. I need Your help right now.” Four steps later a neighbor who’s heard about his surgery stopped his car and gave him some flowers as a gift of encouragement. From that point on Doug’s depression began to fade.

Now don’t get me wrong - I know that a simple prayer doesn’t always resolve our issues in the way Doug experienced. That’s not really the point; the point is where we go when we’re struggling. Do we hold it inside? Do we try to fix things ourselves? Or do we entrust our deepest pains and struggles to the one who can truly be our helper? That help can come in many different ways; as Joni notes in her prayer, sometimes God answers by taking away our pain. Sometimes his provision comes in strength to persevere in the face of impossible circumstances. And sometimes help arrives through a phone call, an e-mail, note, or unexpected visit from a beloved friend or family member.

Are you struggling today? Do you feel like you’ve come to the end of yourself and don’t know what to do? Joni has some great advice: “ If you are troubled, stop where you are and call out to Him. He is present, and He will hear.”