The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:9-10
I did something tonight that I haven’t done in a very long time: I took time to sit and watch a baseball game (okay, it was only the last three innings, but that’s significant after years of not paying much attention). Late in the game a foul ball was hit down the left field line. The ball boy easily fielded the ball off of the wall and immediately turned to the stands to present the ball to one of the several children standing there with their gloves (and their hopes) stretched out. I noticed that three of the five boys at the rail already had a ball in their gloves – undoubtedly from foul balls previously handed over. Recognizing this, the ball boy passed them by to give the ball to the next kid in line who didn’t have a ball. I’m sure the child was delighted with the good fortune of having been given the ultimate souvenir from a major league baseball game, but I must confess that I’ll have to assume it.
As the boy squeezed the ball in his glove, he turned his back to the camera to show the other boys what he had been given. What I saw was the look on the face of the other boy – the last one in line and the only one of the boys in that group yet to have gotten a ball. I was transfixed as I watched him turn to his father with a look of disappointment and despair. It was late in the game and he knew he was running out of opportunities. Had nobody else gotten a ball, he probably would have been okay, but to be the last one waiting was clearly upsetting to him. The game continued on and I must admit I didn’t give it much thought until the final out had been recorded. Then it dawned on me: there hadn’t been another ball hit down the 3rd base line. No opportunities for him to join in the happiness the others felt. I can only imagine what he must have been feeling. I don’t have to imagine the way his dad felt.
As the father of two, I want what’s best for my children. I may not always get things right. I might not give them everything I’d like, but I work as hard as I can to give my children the best of everything. I know what it’s like to work to provide something special for my kids only to have circumstances beyond my control bring my plans and their hopes crashing down. It is a sickeningly helpless feeling to watch your child experience hurt or pain caused by someone else or by no one in particular and to have no control over the outcome. I’ve observed promises that have gone unkept. I’ve watched people play significant roles in their lives only to abruptly leave without warning or explanation. I’ve seen them look into my eyes in search of an answer, a word of consolation, or an assurance that the injustice can be undone. Sadly, more often than not, they only find a hug and promise of something better spoken in a way that tries to mask the hollowness of words they don’t want to hear as much as I don’t want to speak them.
This makes me wonder what God sees when He looks at all of His children. Many of us are living like the boy who never received the opportunity to get a ball. We do all we can: we try to get ahead, we work, we sacrifice, we budget and establish a financial plan but nothing seems to go right. Frustration sets in and we begin to lose our comfort and composure. We grow frustrated and impatient, and we make silly mistakes that will create bigger problems in our lives, our homes, our churches, and our communities. But in spite of our own short-comings, we are blessed to be able to turn to our Heavenly Father and know that we are loved and all of our needs are being met in the way that best suits us. Like the dad at the ball game, we will have His full attention to help us. But unlike the earthly dad, He is not limited by what He is able to do. His response to our cries will be exactly what we need for that moment and for the rest of our lives. We may not always see it and we certainly won’t always understand it, but through the faith built up in us by the Holy Spirit, we can trust God to give us what we need, when we need it in the right way and in the perfect amount.
May we always remember to turn to Him in good times and bad, relying upon His strength to guide us through everything life has to offer.