Here is something I wrote earlier this year during a particularly rough period with my son...
My younger son is 13. A vulnerable age – wedged snugly between boyhood and manhood. I can only imagine that’s a very confusing place to be. He’s a thinker – very insightful. Over the course of the past several months, he's expressed serious questions about life, about himself, and about God. He told me recently, in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t believe in God. As hard that was for me to hear, I believe he is genuinely looking for answers to his questions. He wants tangible proof that God exists.
After he dropped the bomb of disbelief on me that night, we read scripture together. Whether he was open to believe God’s Word or not, I knew that was the only place to find answers to his questions. We read and we talked. We talked about finding our worth in God and not in what the world thinks we should be. We talked about finding purpose in life through all the disappointments and obstacles we face. We also talked about spiritual gifts - how we find our unique gift and use it to glorify God. We talked about several things that night, but most important, I think, was our talk about how we should not allow Satan to steal our joy by listening to his lies, because Satan knows our weaknesses and he preys on those weaknesses in order to bring us to the point of despair – to the point of losing hope, and ultimately, losing our faith. This, I feared, is the point my son had reached.
Surprisingly, on the Sunday morning following that talk, my son wanted to sit with me at church. He usually sits with his friends from the youth group in the front pews, but for whatever reason, my confused baby boy chose to sit with me that day, and I was honored. I hadn’t expected my husband to come to church that day. He has doubts and questions of his own, and going to church with us has been a struggle for him. But lo and behold, he came! He was late, but he came! As I sat there between my husband and my troubled son, I thanked God for His goodness and His grace.
The chatter in the sanctuary quieted down as the pastor opened the service with prayer. I cried as he prayed, struggling to focus on the words of his prayer through my tears. I didn’t know for sure if it was hormones causing my tears or if I was truly moved by the Holy Spirit. Not to take away from the moving of the Spirit, but I cry a lot. My crying in church is no rare occasion. In fact, it’s pretty much a sure thing – like death and taxes. On this day, though, I wasn’t just crying, as a general term. I was weeping. The tears were coming from deep within me; my soul ached for a healing touch from the Lord. I have felt an aching spirit before, but today, the ache seemed stronger than ever. In addition to the struggles with my son and our other three children, my husband and I had battled various issues throughout our marriage of eight years, and the battle seemed endless. I wanted peace. I wanted unity. I needed to hear from God. Our family desperately needed healing and God was the only One who could provide it.
The choir began to sing and the congregation gradually joined in. The praise and worship was more powerful that day than it had felt in a long time, at least for me. As I stood there listening to the music, I felt like singing, but all I could do was bow my head, close my eyes, and let the words and music penetrate to the core of me. My tears spilled out onto my hands as I grasped the pew in front of me. I felt detached somehow. Like a scene in a movie where a person is unconscious and can hear those around him, but is unable to respond.
I prayed. I don’t know exactly what I prayed for, but I prayed. My mind seemed to race. There was so much in my life that needed God’s touch; I didn’t even know where to begin. My mind scrambled for something to say. “Please Lord, please just help us! Bring what we need! Help my son - open his fragile heart and help him see you Lord, protect him from Satan’s lies! Strengthen my marriage…please, Lord!” I went on and on, rambling requests to God about nothing in particular, but everything in general. Then, through my mind’s voice and my heart’s cries, I heard it. The words were so clear that I actually looked over to my left where my son stood because that’s where it seemed to come from. The voice was distinctly different from that of my mind. This voice was gentle and soothing. I clearly heard the words.
"It will be ok."
Was that Him? I’d always heard people talk about hearing the Lord telling them this or that. How does that sound? How do you know it's really Him?
Feeling a bit confused, I took a deep breath and my tears began to subside. I felt a rush of peace and contentment come over me as I looked up through moist, foggy eyes. My racing thoughts slowed as I recalled the words I had just heard. “It will be ok.” Not exactly earth-shattering, and a little more vague than I would have thought, but comforting nonetheless.
The worship music sounded so sweet; I began to sing. The desperation and grief I had felt a moment ago was completely gone. The Spirit of the Lord was there, and he was standing right beside me – between me and my troubled son! He spoke to me. He heard the cries of my heart and He spoke to me!
Shortly after that precious moment, we sat down and my son leaned over to rest his head on my shoulder. This is a boy who typically pulls away at the slightest indication that I might touch him. I was surprised at first, and thought that perhaps he was merely tired and wanted a place to rest his sleepy head. Even if that was the case, it was fine with me. I began to cry again, only this time it was tears of joy. Tears of thanksgiving. I leaned my head over to rest on his and we sat there together, listening to the music fade as the pastor began his sermon. I sat very still, trying to stifle my sobs of joy for fear that he would lift his head from my shoulder. I reveled in the closeness I felt with him at that moment.
Eventually, he did move his head and sat up in the pew. I wondered if he was listening to the sermon. He was fidgety, as usual. Examining his fingernails. Squirming. My initial instinct was to nudge him with my elbow and tell him to be still and listen. Then I remembered the voice I’d heard moments earlier. “It will be ok.” Trusting in my Assurance, I returned my attention to the sermon. Something the pastor said at that point really hit home. He spoke of the lies Satan tells us, with the intention to steal our joy and to discourage us. To distract us from the One who gives us joy. I leaned over to my son and whispered in his ear, “do you remember our talk about this the other night?” “Yes,” he answered. He was listening. Thank you, God, he was listening!
After the service concluded, there was a rare smile on my son’s face. I don’t know if he was able to comprehend all that happened that day, but I was happy to see that smile. The Lord worked in our lives during that service. God heard my cries, He knew my pain and that of my son. He was there that day with His arms around us, and He assured me “it will be ok.” Perhaps I felt more from the Lord that day than my son did, but I know what I heard. I know why I heard it. On this day, I’d heard the voice of the Lord assure me, “it will be ok.”
“I trust you, Lord,” I said, with my arm around my son. “I trust you to give him what he needs.”