8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. - Psalm 107:8-9
The wanderers referred to in Psalm 107:4-9 are those people who are spiritually lost, wandering around looking for purpose and meaning in life. This accurately describes those closest to me who are struggling to find their belief in God. They wander through their life looking for meaning and purpose, and end up in a very real struggle with anxiety or depression because the truth is life lacks purpose apart from God. My heart truly aches watching them wrestle with the bigger questions in life, struggling to find any lasting value or fulfillment in the moments of life. They have their ups and downs - sometimes their lives are going well, and they’re distracted by the happiness they can find, but then something comes along and wrecks their temporary peace, and they begin to spiral. Suddenly, the moments in their lives lack meaning and purpose for them, and they long for something more. People who are separated from God are lost, and often, the greatest problem is they don’t even know they’re lost.
I remember years ago when my youngest son was separated from me at a large Renaissance festival. He was just 3 years old, and I left him in the care of a friend while I went to get ice cream for all our children. When I returned, my friend told me Andrew was gone. He was lost. I immediately panicked and ran to find someone to help. The thoughts running through my head at the time we’re horrifying. The festival was packed, there were people everywhere, and the majority of the people at the festival were dressed in costume. It would have been easy for someone to have just swept him through the crowd and out of the festival. The festival was set in the woods, so they could have easily disappeared with my son forever. My son was lost. It wasn’t long before I found a security guard. The words just tumbled out of my mouth as I began to describe my son. Before he even responded to me, he turned to his shoulder walkie talkie, and said, “we’ve got the mom.” The sense of relief was overwhelming. They had my son the whole time. When the security guard walked me to my son, I found him sitting up on a counter with a whole group of young ladies surrounding him, drinking a Black Cow, as happy as he could be. He didn’t even know he was lost.
This is the problem with so many people in life. They’re lost, but they aren’t even aware they’re lost. Surrounded by those girls laughing and playing with him, and drinking an ice cream float, my son was unaware he was lost. But take the distractions away, and life gets harder. You start to get the sense that you’re lost and wandering. God does this in the life of wanderers from time to time to help them to see they are lost. He will allow our unbelieving loved ones to walk into some very dark and lonely places to show them how very alone and lost they are. My heart always breaks at the thought of my son in the first few moments he was lost, no doubt crying out for me, terrified he was alone. Thankfully, he was rescued when he cried out for help. God is trying to lead our loved ones to Him for rescue. He hears our continued prayers for the unbelievers in our lives, and He will continue to allow them to walk out into the desert so long as we’re praying for them. The hard part is standing back and watching them, resisting the urge to run in and rescue them ourselves. As a mother of two unbelieving sons who are walked out into the desert often, my first instinct is to run out there and rescue them. But we have to remind ourselves that we can’t do that. Though I am forever grateful for the girls who rescued my young son all those years ago, the reality is when they did, he did not realize he was lost. He was a child and needed to be rescued by caring people. But when we rescue our older children from the challenges in the desert, they don’t have an opportunity to realize they are lost. When we save our children, we take away the ability for God to save them.
Verse 9 tells us what kind of soul He fills - the hungry, longing soul. It can be hard to watch our children get to the point where they are hungry and longing. There is often a lot of pain along that road, and we often just want that pain to go away. As parents, we carry that pain in our hearts as much as they do, but allowing them to walk through that pain is going to make them hungry, and land them in the place where He “fills them with good things.”
Many have asked me how my children are impacted by my cancer diagnosis. They are all different people, so they respond differently, but there is a marked difference between the way my believing children are responding and my unbelieving children are responding. They are all being very supportive and loving, and I am so thankful for the encouragement from each one of them. There is no mistaking that my two unbelieving sons are walking out in the desert right now - they are both currently struggling through some very real challenges in their lives. While unrelated to my cancer diagnosis, there is no denying the fact that their struggles have ramped up since my diagnosis. It’s so hard to watch them struggle and not be able to rescue them, but I have no doubt it’s all happening for a very specific reason right now. I’m thankful in some respects that God has even limited my ability to help them because of my diagnosis. I'm physically limited in my ability to support them. Every time they struggle, I tend to walk right out into the desert and save them with worldly responses because I just want to see their struggle end, and I know that’s what they’ll respond to. But this time is different. I’m getting more real and sharing more truth. One of my sons has agreed to attend church with us for the first time in 4-5 years. So thankful that God has done a good work in my heart, so that He can now do a good work in theirs.
Press on ~ you are loved
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