June 18, 2021
Author: Andrea Maher
I remember being a freshman in high school when I had a dispute with an older classmate. Being one of seven children, I was never short on words, neither was I intimidated in the face of a bully. Unfortunately, I never expected to take a punch to the face as an argument ensued in gym class. I knew the slang vernacular for this ominous moment, “I was snuck” or as my brothers would say, “sucker punched.”
That memory crept up on me recently during my prayer time when I was confessing to God my waning intensity and focus during my morning devotions compared to the times I was suckered punched by life. You see, shock of any kind leads to a laser sharp awareness on one’s state of being. So, when in the throngs of a tragedy, my senses were forced into high alert, which led to an increased consciousness of the presence of God in my life. My desperation opened me up to things seen and unseen that would continually comfort my heart. It’s no wonder King Solomon penned these words of wisdom: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
What I realized I longed for that morning was that unique thirst for living water that refreshes the lips of someone who is in a season of drought. It was that one-on-one connection with my Father that I was yearning for–without the tragedy that often accompanies such intimate fellowship.
If you have a relationship with the living God, Jesus Christ, you will find that it is in your most trying moments that He shows up. Oh, He’s always there, He’s just waiting for you to see Him. If Scriptures are planted in your heart, then when a crisis hits, it will be like the explosion of tiny sticks of dynamite showing you the exact truth you need to see and hear in the exact moment you need it.
Our annual family trip to Florida was two months after my youngest son had a fatal drunk driving accident. We still went, but the shock permeated my very being, and every second of my thoughts were spent with a looming court date hanging over our heads. How much time would he serve in prison?
I would wake up restless every morning and take a walk alone with the Lord pouring out my fears and anxieties. One particular morning after an early walk immersed in tears and supplication, I stopped at the pool to sip on a cup of tea. The pool was not officially opened yet and surprisingly, I saw a mother with her highly disabled adult child in a wheelchair at the edge of the water. My eyes transfixed on her as I observed her tender, patient, loving care to this child. She gently splashed water on his feet as he flailed his arms in enjoyment and moaned loudly. Here was her world. Her sucker punch. A broken child never to be fixed on this side of heaven. And yet right before my tear-stained eyes I observed selfless joy. I watched her smile and whisper soothing words with such love that my own heart felt the weight of it. I started to think about her journey and all the dreams she had to lay aside—for herself and her precious son.
God provided a living parable for me that morning and my own preoccupation with my son’s fate was put into perspective. It was a God moment. I could hear the Lord speak loudly to my heart that mine was a momentary affliction (II Corinthians 4:17-18) where hers was for a lifetime.
It was such a powerful revelation and with a grateful heart I looked up to the heavens to thank Jesus for His personal message to me and to my utter surprise, there written in the clouds were these words: “Jesus loves you.” (I’m not being crazy here!). In Orlando, there is a Christian sky writing ministry that I was the recipient of at that very moment. How magnificently timed!
In retrospect, I wondered how many others looked up admiring the artwork and simply said, “how cool.” As for me, working through the sting of a sucker punch, I bowed my head and thanked my Father for the words He sent personally for me at just the right time I needed them.
He shows up.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
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Andrea Maher is the former editor-in-chief of PARENT ABC’S a monthly magazine. Her writings have been featured in local newspapers and parenting publications nationwide. She is the author of LETTERS TO MY SON: Soley a God Story and SLAMMED: Overcoming Tragedy in the Wave of Grief.
She is the executive director of the Be Still Foundation, a ministry that disseminates hope and encouragement to families in crisis. She has been married to her husband John for 44 years and has four children, and 10 grandchildren. https://bestillfoundation.org