In the darkness of Judson’s disease and in his passing, there were many times I felt as though God was absent and my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling of our home, falling on deaf or distant ears. I found myself on my knees in tears, desperately hollering to God through the still air of my bedroom: Are You there? Do You even exist? Do You hear me? Why don’t You answer? Where are You? Have You abandoned me? It was easy to grow weary in my prayers wondering why God seemed so distant as I called to Him in deep need.
C.S. Lewis similarly described how in the moment of his most pro-found need, the Lord who had seemed always available to him, “suddenly seemed distant and absent, as if God had slammed a door shut and double-bolted it from the inside.”
David, who wrote many of the Psalms in the Bible expressed comparable feelings:
Why, Lord, do You stand far off?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1,2)
In the midst of his brokenness and pain David was desperate for God to intervene, to lift Him out of the pain; instead, it felt as though God was unavailable and far away.
I fought to reconcile the promises of God with my experience in the darkness of disease. Throughout Scripture He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5-6). In fact, God tells us He is especially close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
So where is God when our child is suffering and our hearts are bro-ken?
When Judson was sick and had lost all of his vision, I recall a time when he had been crying out in the middle of the night, distressed and afraid. I rushed to his side, stroking his hair to comfort him. In time, he settled. I continued to lie near him, just inches away, but no longer touching his frail body. Judson couldn’t see me because of his blindness. And although I was right there—with him in every way—Juddy began to cry out again, afraid I had left him alone once more. Jud’s inability to see, because of his suffering, kept him from recognizing I was totally near, face-to-face, fully present and caring for him.
Like Judson’s illness, our pain can blind us to God’s presence. We perceive He is absent and has left us, but He is, in fact, right there with us, face-to-face, present in every way.
Judson’s instinct was to cry out, letting me know he needed my presence, and he trusted I would come. David, the psalmist, did the same.
But You, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:19)
When God seems absent, he wants us to continue to call out to him like David did, similar to the way Judson cried out for me. And just as I reached out my hand to comfort my son, letting him know I was near, God is a faithful Father who will assure us of his presence too. Just keep crying out to Him!
~ Christina Levasheff
Mother of Judson Levasheff (12/24/04 – 11/7/07)
Thank You for Your promises to be with me, my refuge, and always-present in my troubles.
I am struggling to understand what You are doing in my life and Your purpose in this pain. I call out to You, asking You to intervene, and yet You seem so distant.
Where are You?
I am broken and hurting. I need You. I want to taste and see of Your goodness.
Will You show Yourself to me? Will You come and fill me with Your Spirit and allow me to see what You see? Will You keep me from be-ing blind to Your presence?
Please respond to my cries, Lord, and remind me You are near. I ask for the strength to endure as I wait patiently for You. And as every-thing around me feels like it is shifting, please give me a firm place to stand. Help me to trust You.
Father, I thank You for this precious child you have given me. Continue to use them to shape me and the world around me. Please help me experience the heights of joy from their life, even in the depths of pain. May I walk in the hope of Your glory.
I will keep calling out to You. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
But You, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength;
come quickly to help me.