Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. – Psalm 138:7
I decided on Oct. 3 to call several friends who, like me, had dealt with illness and inconvenience and who are also pastors.
I called Pastor Rufus Troup first and we spoke for a long time about ministry and family. Then, before I called Pastor Carlos Malone, I called retired Pastor Mack King Carter. His wife, Patricia, answered the phone and asked me to call back because she was on the house phone and Mack was on the other side of the house.
So, after about five minutes, I called back. He answered but we were immediately disconnected. I tried calling back but my cell phone was misbehaving, so I gave up, intending to contact him later on that day; we spoke by phone frequently.
That same day, a camera crew was scheduled to be at my house to capture me talking about ministry, as I was being recognized for contributing to the field of religion as a maturing minister. Once the interview and taping was completed, I picked up my cell phone, which was full of text messages and missed calls. Before I could ascertain the reason for the number of texts and calls, another text came through that said, “Dr. Carter passed away.”
I knew intuitively that this terrible news was factual but I wanted to verify it. My wife called Dr. Carter’s cousin and I called Pastor Wayne Lomax. The bad news was verified. And, like the finality of an earthquake, the fury of a storm and the force of a flood, life came crashing down.
And, yes, life does come crashing down. It happens for every one of us. It’s not always with death due to illness, plane crashes, sudden loss of income, automobile accidents, tragedies due to violence or even failed marriages.
But, somehow, all the same, life comes crashing down. The loss of a child may be the most excruciating blow a loving parent can endure but you can be certain that every trouble and tragedy life dispenses offer its own unique form of suffering.
And you’re never entirely prepared. That’s the real essence of pain. Dr. David Jeremiah in his book A Bend in the Road says, “Possibly for the first time in your life, you wonder whether there’s purpose in going on. For the first time, you wonder whether the gift of life on this earth – for you – is really a gift.”
And when pain comes that can’t be alleviated with pills, sleep or conversations, you have no clue where to turn. It’s wonderful to know then that you have a loving heavenly Father who knows what you’re experiencing and is waiting to help and heal you. The psalm reads, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me.”
There are at least three things that people in trouble need to realize, especially people who have a relationship with the Lord.
First, realize that God is a refuge for His people. He’s continually available, thoroughly adequate and readily accessible. Available, adequate, and accessible. That’s great news! So when life suddenly shifts, and sometimes comes crashing down, God is right there, able to handle the moment with you.
Then realize and recognize that God is also resident among His people. He never leaves us alone to fend for ourselves.
He abides with His people, never leaving. And, while abiding, according to the scriptures, He neither slumbers nor sleeps. Nothing happens outside of the presence of God. He is so very present that He is not surprised at what happens to you.
Then recognize that times with God are refreshing. He always responds with revival for those who are in need. We grieve, we mourn, we are saddened but it’s not like we don’t have hope. For the Lord revives us.
So when troubles come, as they definitely will, the children of God respond in worship. The children of the Lord learn to resist the temptation to surrender to our trials, troubles and tragedies. We trust the Ultimate to restore to us the joys we had before the troubles came. So we worship and praise the Lord with our whole hearts.
*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com