He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
What a comforting image. Our Abba Father holds us so close in His arms that He nestles us right next to His heart. Why is it then, that He can feel so far away at times?
There was one particular season in my life when I felt incredibly distant from God. It was after the death of our six-year-old daughter, Jessica. Strangely, I had sensed God so close during the dark days of walking through her eleven-month illness, and even her death. But soon after she was gone a lonely fog settled in and it felt like God was a million miles away. I was grieving, deeply hurt, and disappointed. Would I ever again be able to trust a God who allowed my precious daughter to suffer and die? Filled with such incredible sadness and grief, I wondered if I would ever experience that deep, peaceful solace that I had once enjoyed. Had God abandoned me?
One horribly lonely day, I asked God why I didn’t feel more of the comfort that He promised in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”
My honest question marked the beginning of my healing process. I will never forget the answer that He whispered to my heart, reminding me of a verse that had been so meaningful during our heartbreaking journey with Jessica.
“He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
Time and time again during her illness, I would place Jessica in God’s arms because I felt so desperately helpless. He demonstrated His faithfulness to give her comfort and peace, evidenced by some of the amazing things that she said to me like, “Mom, God is holding me in His arms, and He’s holding you too.”
Using Jessica’s very own words and that verse in Isaiah, God spoke to me, and I was ready to hear His tender inquiry… “I want to comfort you and hold you close, but how can I when you keep pushing me away?”
God’s question opened the floodgates and I began to pour out my heart to Him. He challenged me to stop turning away from Him and trying to bury, hide, or fake my feelings, and instead turn toward Him with all my feelings of hurt, brokenness, anger, and failure; even though it would go against everything I “felt” like doing. God also sent friends to carry me when I couldn’t take another step, placing me in His arms and asking Him to heal my heart that was only half alive. Gradually, God began to give me a glimmer of hope for a time when it wouldn’t hurt so much.
As wives, mothers, and friends there are so many times we think we have to make things okay for other people, especially the people we love. We can’t fix their hurt, but we can offer honest, compassionate love, and reassure them that they are not alone.
I can wrap my arms around that treasured soul and tenderly listen to the cry of their heart. I can weep with them or just say “I love you” because no other words are adequate. I can sit and truly listen, then gently place that child, spouse, family member, or friend directly into the arms of the Abba Father, confident that He, more than anyone, knows exactly what they need. God loves each of His precious lambs with a perfect love, far greater than my own and He longs to “carry them close to His heart.”
Nestling in the Father’s arms is a taste of heaven on earth.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NCV
Drawing from personal life experiences which include being a worship pastor’s wife, a mother of three, and serving for over 25 years in ministry, Janice bring a message from the Word full of healing, hope, humor, and refreshment. In her worship, her writing, as a speaker, and in her daily interactions, Janice’s heart beats for women of all ages to know and enjoy the Father’s love, inspiring them to bloom wherever God plants them. For more stories about her journey, both humorous and heart-touching, you can check out her blog, website, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and email!