Proof Through the night

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Does your mind sometimes work like dominoes? One thought leads to another, and before you know it, you’re thinking about something quite different from where you started.

On our way home from our Michigan vacation, “up north,” we passed a mailbox shaped like a house with a tiny tattered American flag attached to the front. As I watched this little flag waving in the breeze, it reminded me of the line in “The Star-Spangled Banner” that reads, “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

This made me think of the “bombs” in my life that had burst all around me during the past several years. The sudden passing of my husband. The crushing grief and feelings of vulnerability. The mounds of paperwork. The never-ending house projects. The single parenting. The loneliness. The health issues. The wringing of my hands because he always seemed to know what to do. Everyday reminders of the earthly permanence of this unsolicited separation.

Then I came to realize that these “bombs” have the potential to prove that, through the darkness, my faith in God is still there. Still active. Still strong. Still flying high . . . tattered and torn as it may seem some days.

In her book, A Path Through Suffering, Elisabeth Elliot defines suffering as “having what you don’t want, or wanting what you don’t have.” Her thoughts about the Old Testament character of Job caught my attention. “We may take heart from the suffering of Job. Suffering was the necessary proof of the reality of his faith . . . a living proof of a living faith . . . Job’s suffering provided the context for a demonstration of trust.”*

No matter what the challenges of life may bring, whether commonplace or perplexing, I want them to give proof through the night that my faith is still there. A trusting faith that’s visible and present—regardless of the darkness, the testing and trials, and the unexplained losses. Just like the Star-Spangled Banner over Fort McHenry in 1814. Just like that little flag attached to the front of the mailbox along a sandy roadside in Michigan.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, . . . be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

*Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain, (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1990), 52, 53, 56.

Sarah Lynn Phillips

Sarah Lynn Phillips shares the inspiring story of her family’s near-fatal car crash in her award-winning book, Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story. For individual or group study, she has also written a companion Leader’s Guide with reproducible study sheets. Her articles, devotions, and poems have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Through her writing and speaking, Sarah offers a vision of hope in the hard times. She has three adult daughters and three delightful grandsons. Reading, quilting, and tending her garden are among Sarah’s hobbies.

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