The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(Friends: the subject matter of this series of essays involves one of the foundational truths about our Lord every believer must know and embrace in order to avoid much confusion and frustration in our walk with Him. Indeed, you might say this is one the "101" truths of Scripture. Thanks, Glen).
"Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me. And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:38-39).
The Psalmist declares that our Lord's character guides His capability. "Thou art good, and doest good... the Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works" (Psalm 119:68; 145:17). This means there are things the almighty God cannot do.
"It was impossible for God to lie… God cannot lie" (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).
The context of our consideration involves the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." As we considered in yesterday's message, it was not possible for the cup to pass from our Savior because God's eternal purpose and promises foreordained the cross of Calvary as vital to His glory and our redemption. "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).
I have shared the story that follows with you before, involving a circumstance many years ago when I had to do something for my daughter Marie that bewildered and hurt her. Had she been old enough at the time, she might have asked, "Dad, if it be possible, let this painful thing pass from me!" As you will see, that was impossible. I could not have done so because my heart guided my hand, as is the case regarding God's purposes and ways.
When Marie was a year old, we visited Frances's parents' house. As we sat in the dining room talking, we heard a bump and a scream. We raced into the den where Marie had been playing. She sat bloodied and crying, with a deep gash just above her left eyelid, inflicted when she fell and struck her forehead against a coffee table. Frances immediately assessed the situation: "We're going to the hospital!" Upon our arrival, a nurse promptly directed us to bring Marie into an examination room. Well, not "us" actually. "Only one parent is allowed" she said in no uncertain terms. Such times are for Mama, of course. I returned to my chair in the waiting room, and nervously prayed and fidgeted while waiting to see what would happen with Marie.
I don't know how long I sat there, but finally a nurse called me back to the treatment area. "Mr. Davis, we're going to need your help." I had no idea what the nurse meant, but followed her into the room where Marie had been taken. Upon entering, I was stunned by the sight. My precious little daughter lay on a table, her entire body covered with a sterile sheet. A small hole exposed the wounded area over Marie's eye. I also discovered she was bound by what one could only call a straitjacket. The nurse looked at me, and declared with no uncertainty or possibility of argument. "Mr. Davis, we're going to need you to hold your daughter's head while we repair her wound." They needed someone Marie would trust, and the responsibility fell to me.
Life changed in that moment. So much ran through my mind as tears begin to well in my eyes. I painfully pondered what I had to do. "I'm going to have to hold Marie still while strangers inflict pain on her. She doesn't understand and she believes I love her with all my heart and will always take care of her. How can I do this?" The thoughts raced painfully through my mind as my heart literally broke. I walked to the table, looked down at Marie, and attempted as brave a smile as I could muster under the circumstances. "Sweetheart, it's going to be ok. Daddy has to help these nice people make you better, and it will all be over before you know it." I touched her on the shoulder, feeling the restraints of the strait jacket, and the breaking of my heart yet again. I looked at the doctor. "Ok, I'm ready." I leaned down, took Marie's head firmly into my hands, looked into her eyes, and told her I loved her.
Marie cried throughout the procedure. I did too. I tried to reassure her that all would be well, but she didn't understand how the daddy who loved her could subject her to such terror and pain. My heart broke again and again, and I don't recall whether I prayed, or even could have prayed. However, I do know this. At some point, when all seemed completely dark and agonizing, a thought came to me. Not a voice, not an impression, but a thought that instantly changed my life and exponentially multiplied everything I believe about God's love and compassion. "Every time the Lord must take me through pain, sorrow, and bewilderment of any kind, I am going to remember this moment. Because what I am feeling is surely just a glimmer of what He feels when He must act in difficult ways we do not understand."
"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous" (Psalm 112:4).
The surgery went well. Marie recovered, and her beautiful brow gives no indication whatsoever of that bump and scream from so long ago. My heart recovered also, but not completely. I never share this story without the old wound bleeding yet again. More importantly, however, I never remember the episode without renewed amazement, the kind that happens when the realization of God's wondrous heart graces us yet again. His trusting children in Christ will never feel a twinge of pain that does not coincide with a sharp dagger of pain in the depths of our Father's heart. "His compassions fail not" (Lamentation 3:22). Our Father takes no pleasure, but rather suffers much pain when He must allow or determine that we hurt. I will always believe the season of pain Frances, Marie, and I shared in that emergency room allowed just a glimpse into the heart of One who immerses Himself in both our blessings and our buffetings. Yes, our Lord cares when we suffer, including challenges of every mode and measure.
Was it possible to have saved Marie from the procedure? In practical terms, certainly I could have. I could have picked her up and carried her out of the hospital to whatever would have been the sad outcome of such selfishness. However, I love her, which means it was not possible to save her from the excruciating experience. I had to do what is best regardless of how much it hurt her, her mother, and me. This, of course, is how God's all powerful hand acts in accordance with His completely perfect character and nature. Some things He cannot do and are not possible because of who He is. Doubtless this causes far greater pain in His perfect heart than my actions with Marie caused in mine. This we must know and believe about Him because it is true, and because when He determines or allows necessary pain in our lives, we can be sure His heart of compassion feels what we feel, and much more. Scripture bears much witness to this truth, and the Spirit of God will confirm our Heavenly Father's compassion when we look to Him in our troubles, sorrows, heartaches, and heartbreaks.
"We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." (Hebrews 4:15)
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:7-9).
Weekly Memory Verse
"Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh unto you."