A Call in the Night
Ring…. ring. The sound seemed muffled and far away. RING… RING. It must be the telephone. Half asleep, I hoped someone would answer it.
RING! My sister’s bed creaked and footsteps dashed down the hall. Silence. Was she too late? A muffled voice assured me that connection had been made.
Murmur-murmur-murmur. What time was it, anyhow? 2:40 am. It must be a call for prayer. Sleepily I asked the Lord to help whomever-it-was with whatever-was-the-problem. Not very specific, I’ll admit.
Should I get up, Lord? Maybe I really wasn’t needed. “Gather to the sound of the trumpet.” That’s what Nehemiah said to those scattered upon the wall. I pulled myself out of bed and went to join the fray.
“Sister Abigail’s having heart pains,” my father whispered, as I entered the office. My sister was kneeling in prayer. I joined the circle around the speaker phone.
“Lord, we are sorry if we have been hard of hearing. Please help us,” the halting voice over the line was etched with pain. “We are willing to suffer just as—just as long—as You see best.” The sob in the sister’s voice could not be hid, and a surge of sympathy filled me. What could we say or do to help?
Isn’t it time to practice what you preach? Just last evening you were telling someone that God has victory for us in the worst situations, weren’t you?
Yes, I had. And how much easier it is to say than to do. But I still believed it. The Lord was worthy of our complete confidence. I knew it was true and I meant to live by it.
As the faltering petitions continued, my mind tried to sort out the situation. Only a few weeks before Sister Abigail had gone through a severe affliction which had lasted six days. We had rejoiced in the healing then, but now she was suffering again. In the blackness of night it is easiest to remember the pain and fears. And easy to lose sight of all the precious blessings which the Lord had multiplied to us abundantly in the trial. Somehow the healings of the past didn’t feel so real in the face of this present affliction.
Feelings. Like a storm cloud, they pressed in around us. As a battle to clear the skies, I lifted my own voice in prayer. “We are looking to You, Lord. We know You are our very present help in trouble. You’ve allowed the sufferings to pile in on us, but we aren’t discouraged. We are trusting You.”
The inspiration of God’s Spirit is often talked about. But it is in the moment of the crisis, when the need is as real as life and all talk is worth nothing, that “the prayer of faith” (James 5:15) has to be more than a figure of speech. If God is real, He is real when there is nothing to prop Him up or defend Him. “I have declared, and I have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.” (Isaiah 43:12)
And so it was in that hour of need. No longer was it our battle against the pain and our struggle to take hold of the promises alone. The promises were ours and our Lord was there with us. He was our Healer and no past experiences would rob us of what He came to give us. We would not be confounded. So we prayed on in inspired confidence.
“You have a purpose in sending us this trial, Lord. We believe that You want to increase our faith. You want us to importune before You and keep trusting despite the unbelief around us. This world is full of those that don’t believe in Your desire to heal us and help us. O Lord, You wondered if there would be faith on the earth when You came! Help us to trust You in a way that pleases You!”
“Please, pray for me,” Brother Jonathan’s voice interjected on the line. “I just don’t know why God is allowing this trial. Abigail was doing so well, and now this!” His voice broke in anguish. The dark clouds of despair were engulfing his vision, and he couldn’t see any way out.
“We can’t go by our feelings,” my father spoke up. “So often I am tempted to think that there is no help when I need it, even when God has proven true time and time again. He is faithful. We must put our trust in that.”
“O God, don’t let Abigail die,” Brother Jonathan’s voice quavered. “I can’t live without her—I know I could with Your help, but I need her so much!” His pathos was touching, but the forbidding gloom was not. It was drowning out all hope and confidence in the ability of God. “But why does she have to suffer like this?” he groaned. “Doesn’t God even care? What if He let’s her die? I won’t be able to live without a wife!”
“What are you looking at, brother?” I challenged him. “Those dark pictures are not from God! The devil is the one who seeks to destroy us. Wasn’t it just last week that you were testifying how God had revealed His love to you in healing your wife? We must put our faith in Him and not look at our feelings.”
“Oh, I don’t have much confidence at all,” he faltered.
“Confidence is not feelings. Confidence is believing in God’s power. It is stating that He is stronger than our foe. He is not defeated. He loves us!” The spiritual conflict rose up before my vision, and I gloried in the ability and goodness of my General. Could any hold a candle to what He could do? Never!
“Faith is believing the promise is true,” we sang. “Trusting in Jesus your strength to renew!” As the words of confidence flowed from our hearts, we prayed that this brother would be brought out into the light of faith. The Lord answered our petition in a marvelous way.
“Jonathan, I have no more pain,” Sister Abigail’s voice said as we finished the song.
A note of wonderment and awe flooded across the line as Brother Jonathan echoed the words—“Abigail says she has no more pain! Why did God do this for us? What is He trying to tell me?”
“That He loves you,” we replied, with a full heart of joy.
“But He just touched her, like that! I don’t deserve it. I wasn’t really believing anything would happen, because God wouldn’t help me until I was all straightened out. I thought she would suffer for a long time. But now God’s made her well! I guess He must really love me.”
“Oh, yes. Let us thank Him,” my father said with feeling. Our hearts were filled with the reality of the very present Help in trouble—our God who was worthy of our fullest trust.
“Can we sing ‘The Love of God’?” Sister Abigail asked. As her clear voice came across the line, we rejoiced in the proof of the heavenly touch. Yes, the love of God was real, and how gracious!
As we marveled over the victory together, Brother Jonathan said, “I see now. God doesn’t send us afflictions because He wants us to suffer, but because He wants to teach us something. How good He has been to us! And I’m so thankful that you were willing to be woken up to pray with us. It didn’t bother you?”
“No, not at all,” my father said. My sister and I agreed. It was a victory we wouldn’t have missed.