Sunday, June 3, 2012

When the water bottle isn't in the box....

Not my usually lighthearted post today.  

Today in Sunday School we were talking about how God works in our lives.  Our Sunday School teacher had some things that needed straightening out and had been working on them diligently getting no results.  Wednesday night at church he asked for prayer concerning these issues and Sunday morning relayed the story of how things worked out at the very last possible minute, something that could have only been done by divine intervention.  He then related to us the story of Helen Roseveare, doctor/missionary to Zaire, Africa.  

Story typed mostly from article
She delivered a premature baby ........the mother died and they were left with a tiny baby and a two year old daughter.  She knew it would be difficult keeping the baby alive as they had no incubator and no special feeding facilities and that they would need to keep the baby warm.  There was only one hot water bottle in their box of supplies and it burst when it was being filled with hot water.  Helen instructed the student mid wife to put the baby as near the fire as would be safe and to sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free of drafts.  

The following day, she had prayer time with the orphans as she regularly did and explained to them the situation with the baby and the water bottle and how grieved the two year old sister was.  A ten year old girl asked if she could pray for the two and prayed this prayer....."please God, send us a water bottle.  It'll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby will be dead; so please send it this afternoon.....and please send a dolly for the little girl so she will know You love her."  Helen did not know what to say, as she really didn't think it was possible for these requests to be filled.....a parcel would have to arrive from her homeland that day and it would have to contain a hot water bottle!  As they lived on the equator she doubted that would happen.

Halfway through the afternoon, she got a message that there was a car at her front door.  By the time she reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large parcel!  She sent for the orphanage children.  Together they pulled off the string and unwrapped the package.  All eyes were focused on the large box.  Helen lifted out several items that were much needed.  As she got close to the bottom, she felt .......could it be?.....yes, a hot water bottle!  Helen cried.....she had not truly believed and she had not asked God to send it.  But the little ten year old girl rushed forward, crying out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too!"  And from the bottom of the box she pulled out a small doll.  The little girl's eyes shone.  She had never doubted that God would answer her prayer.

That parcel had been on the way for five months, packed by Helen's former Sunday School class,  someone had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.  One of the girls had put in a dolly.......five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten year old to bring it "that afternoon".  

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

This is a truly wonderful story about the faith of a child and how God is faithful to answer prayers.

But sometimes there is no hot water bottle in the box......

and my question is what do we do then?  What if the child we love so much dies?  What if the sick person or loved one we have prayed to be healed dies?  What if our wayward child doesn't change, but we see other's children changing all around?  What if the marriage actually does fail?  What if our businesses fail or our jobs go away?  What if terrible tragedies happen?  What then?  

Is God still answering prayers?  Is He still the same sovereign God we proclaim when times are good?  Will we accept whatever He sends and remain faithful to Him?

King David was greatly loved by God, but when he sinned with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover up that sin, God did not spare the child from that union.  While the child was lying sick and dying, David mourned and prayed diligently for God to heal him......not eating or drinking but only praying and weeping.  The child died.  When the servants came in to tell the king that his child had died, King David got up bathed, changed his clothes and went into the house of God and worshipped, then he ate.  The servants were shocked and asked how this could be.  King David's answer was this....."while the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead.  Why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."  Even though David knew that God had chosen to take his child, he worshipped.  He grieved as one who has hope, because he knew that he would one day be reunited with his son.  His faith in the God he loved and trusted was still the same and God's love for David was still the same.  

I hope I will remain faithful even when the "box" doesn't have what I need or want.  I hope I will pray as Habakkuk did........
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines, 
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my
God, the Lord, is my strength

Oh, Lord keep us faithful when we can't see the why's of things.  Give us patience to wait on Your timing and give us wisdom to know Your ways are perfect.

Just some thoughts from a great lesson.  
Because really,  the hot water bottle is not always in the box and really?????  I'm most likely not to have faith as big as a mustard seed.  Sometimes I'm praying for an outcome that I don't think will come.  That is a true confession.


Dawn said...

Well said, friend. I love those missionary miracle stories, but of course they don't often share the ones that are not so encouraging! And their faithfulness is such an inspiration - I look at my cousin and her husband who have labored in a dry barren place for 40 years with very little to show for it, but they do not feel released to retire and come "home" even when the country is under political siege and life is potentially dangerous for them.

As for praying for an outcome, sometimes I think that's our problem - we pray for what we think is what He wants, but He wants us to pray for His will! Hard hard hard.

Cathy said...

You have as much or more faith than anyone I know!! Your box is filled with many wonderful things...maybe the hot water bottle will show up one day when least expected. Love you!!

Dee said...

Dear Nancy, it seems to me that all of life and all of us who live are caught up in boundless mystery. We question. We ponder and mull. We muse and deliberate.
And then we must let go and enter Mystery and trust that all shall be well, knowing that while we believe, we, also, being human, doubt. Peace.

Kristie said...

thank you for this nancy!! that verse at the end has blessed jeff and me so many times when going through different things. HE is faithful!! and even when we doubt. love you friend!!

Needled Mom said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful to always find the bottle in the box? This was beautiful, Nancy. I so enjoyed the read.

Auntie Bliss said...

I have gotten that story in emails over the is something!
I see Christians often say something like..."my mother was healed!!! God is good!!!" And I want to say to are sending a message to others that if He had not healed her...He wouldn't be good (way wrong!) well He is obviously good, even when He chooses to heal on the other side.

Donna said...

Since I was old enough to remember, there's Always, Always been a hot water bottle in my box...Always.
I just simply...Believe...
Sweet post Nancy!

Tonja said...

What a timely message for me! I am not sure of when you wrote this, because I have not been on the computer too much lately. But, I needed to read it today. And, it spoke encouragement to my heart. Thank you for being faithful to write what was in your heart, for it reached out to mine.

It gets really hard sometimes dealing with a critically ill child every day. It is so much of the sameness. God is good and we know He is in control, but there are days when I wonder if my prayers will ever get through. I know they do, but it just is a little much at times.

I hope you have a wonderful visit with your grandchildren. I know they are excited as well to be with y'all. Hope the weather is nice, too. We got a little rain today, maybe some more tomorrow.

Blessings to you, my friend.
PS...Hope to start work on our little cottage in the next week. YEA!

Sweet Tea said...

I identify with this post on many levels. At times I've had a "water bottle in my box" and at times I have not. . .I love the mountain tops but really find it easy to despair in the valleys.
Thanks for this lovely post.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I know that the bottle isn't always in the box but I do know He will always be with me. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I think we often confuse an answer that we don't want with an answer. I believe that God ALWAYS answers but his answer can be Yes, no or wait. Many times getting our hearts desire is not always what is best for us. If that loved one lived then who knows what could happen. If that child reunites before he has time to learn his lesson would he be weaker? If he has chosen to not do right is it really Gods fault?
If that marriage fails is it God or man that has made it so?
When going through my divorce and dealing with the betrayal of unfaithfulness I often ask God Why? When I was raped and my child molested again I asked Why? When my son moved to Italy with his dad I again asked Why?
Through my rape I have helped my child deal with her pain and numerous others as well. Through my divorce I learned to lean on God and in turn I have a wonderful although non believing husband but his sun accepted Christ. Through my son leaving for Italy my family here has learned to appreciate him and his father has made drastic changes in his own life bringing him back to Christ and making him realize his mistakes as a husband and father. He has vowed not to make the same mistakes with his current family and I have seen real and drastic change in him. Wait on the Lord. I believe there is always a water bottle in the box. It may just not be the water bottle we expected or wanted.