“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
– Matthew 10:29-31, CEB –
She was lost.
Standing right in front of me, searching everywhere to be filled, but finding nothing to satisfy her thirst.
She cried, begging for help. “Someone! Anyone!”
I stood right there, holding out everything she needed.
But she walked around me, into me–would have walked through me if she could have–scouring the area for nourishment.
All along, I was there. She just couldn’t see me.
This drama played out last week in the goat pen. Our smallest baby goat wobbled around in the straw and nudged my knees, desperate for a drink. She cried hungrily. But she refused to drink out of the bottle I held out to her. It was full of milk, heated to just the right temperature so it would warm her belly without burning her. I had done everything necessary. But she wouldn’t drink.
I held the bottle closer to her face. She ignored it.
I brushed the red-and-yellow nipple against her lips. She shook her head and ran away.
Watching her run, I grew frustrated. “Just drink!” I told her. “That’s all you have to do.”
Tinier than her brother and cousin, the kid didn’t seem to be growing much. I was concerned that she wasn’t getting enough food.
After several ineffective efforts to get her to drink, I settled on a solution. I grabbed her head in one hand, the bottle in the other, and held her mouth to the nipple. She struggled and tried to back out of my grip, but I held her. It was drink or drown, as the milk slid out of the bottle into her throat.
Struggling every so often, she drank the milk I forced her to take. It didn’t kill her. She didn’t like it much, but it gave her the strength she needed to keep going.
As I crouched in the pen with a bottle and a very stubborn baby, I realized that God does this to me.
Suffering, so often, is God holding my head to the nourishment I need. Hard things are often His way of making me get close to Him, when left to myself I’d just walk away. I’m like that little lost kid, wandering around her pen looking for food when the source of it was right there all along.
When God puts me in a headlock, I kick and struggle like that little goat. I squirm and bawl and cry. “Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me? Why are you making me go through this?”
And all along, as I throw my tantrum, His truth and strength and love flow into my unwilling body and fill me.
This is how trials make us stronger. They aren’t mistakes. They aren’t blips on the radar that God somehow missed.
Sometimes, when we pray for health or safety or prosperity or a good day, God says no.
Most of the time, we’re no smarter than that baby goat. We don’t know what we really need. We just know that it doesn’t feel nice to have big hands clamp down on you and hold your head still.
But these hands holding us are steady and strong, and the God of these hands sees our true need. He is willing to do what it takes to fill us up, even when we don’t know yet that the pain will turn into a good thing.
She’s learning. When I go to the pen now, she’s already at the fence, crying for milk. She knows. She finally knows that I’m bringing blessing.
Friends, life can be hard. But let’s stop struggling in God’s hands.
He knows exactly what we need.
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
―Francis Chan, Crazy Love―