WEEK 10: God’s Constant Presence in our Lives
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
In 2014, my wife and I and our two children visited China for a missions conference that lasted about two weeks. Halfway through the conference, we received the news that my father-in-law had passed away. We therefore had to come back to South Africa earlier than planned, but we found that there were no flight tickets available for the four of us before our originally scheduled departure date. All flights until then were fully booked.
After trying two different travel agents, we still had no luck. But we decided to go to the Beijing airport just in case four seats were available on standby. We went to the airline desk to see if we could change the tickets, but the lady behind the desk said the same as the two travel agents – nothing was available for the four of us. She said that we should come to her again in 30 minutes, as she might have one seat available for my wife only, who would at least be able to assist her mother in the meantime.
Half an hour later, there was only one seat available. The rest of us would have to stay behind for another week before returning to South Africa. But my wife did not want the family to be separated, so she stepped out of the line where she was queueing for the ticket. The lady behind the desk warned us that if we didn’t take the ticket, we would lose it. As I tried to convince my wife to take that last seat, she got out of the line and sent a WhatsApp message to her prayer group back in South Africa. She asked her friends to pray for her because she didn’t know what to do.
Five minutes later, the prayer group responded by saying that we should go and stand in the line again. They would pray and trust the Lord to give all four of us seats on the flight leaving Beijing in less than two hours. I laughed at the message, because I knew the trouble we had gone through for only one seat. What were the odds of us getting four seats? I wanted to go back to our hotel, but in desparation, we stood in the line again. When we came to the front of the line, the lady said that we were wasting her time and that she had already told us that our request for four seats wasn’t possible. I begged her to look just once more.
Frustrated, she checked her computer, and then said: “Sir, I do not know how this works, but four seats just became available…” We were overwhelmed with tears as we experienced how the Lord had listened to the prayers of friends thousands of miles away.
In Scripture, we see how the Lord answered the prayers of His children in different ways. Elijah prayed that the Lord would open his servant’s eyes, and immediately the servant could see thousands upon thousands of angels surrounding and protecting them (2 Kings 6:17). Joseph’s story was different: Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and imprisoned in Egypt. We can only imagine how Joseph must have cried out to the Lord for years and years, but the Lord was ‘silent’. It was only years later that God’s involvement in Joseph’s life became evident; in Genesis 50:20, Joseph looks back on his life and says that God had meant everything for good.
Sometimes we pray, or someone else prays for us, and we see a miraculous outcome. Sometimes we pray for years, and it seems as if God has abandoned us. May the Lord bless us with the knowledge that as Christians, we have the assurity from God that He will never leave nor forsake us. He will care for us like a loving father cares for his children. No matter the circumstances, no matter how the ‘evidence’ might point towards God forgetting us, may we find joy in the fact that we have a heavenly Father listening to us as we seek His face through prayer.
God bless you.