I have two dangerous experiences with heavy fog:
A Ferry across the Mississippi
In the early 1950’s my family and I were taking the car ferry across the big river from Helena, Arkansas to see mother’s family in Mississippi. Before we reached the eastern bank of the river a heavy fog enveloped us. The captain of the boat could not locate the landing on the Mississippi side. I was just a little guy but it really frightened me. I’m sure the fear I saw on the adults’ faces was part of my fear. I remember fingers of light, the searchlights on the ferry, reaching into the dense cloud trying to locate the landing. We missed it several times. Each miss required another trek upstream against the power of the mighty river, to make another run. I understand now that the night was filled with fog and the river was packed with large sets of barges pushed downstream by towboats. A collision in the fog would have been a disaster.
A Fog on I-40
Decades later after a Christmas trip home to Arkansas, we made the long trek back to North Carolina. We started out at midnight intending to drive all night and part of the day to get home. (I was a young man in those days!) At Little Rock a heavy fog settled over everything. The visibility was zero. Driving the speed limit with zero visibility is not easy, even for a young man. I prayed and noticed a big truck in my lane. Without getting too close to him, I could barely make out his running lights. I held that position all the way across the Grand Prairie of Eastern Arkansas. When we crossed the Big River at Memphis the fog stayed behind and the rest of the trip was under a starry, winter sky.
And so it seemed to be for the Psalmist.
“How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?”
The pain in this question is not some misty fog, easily penetrated by even a candle’s slender flame. His pain is real, substantial and, dare we say it?—unjust. Yes, the truth is—the righteous suffer.
- Even if our God is Jehovah Who Provides, sometimes we go without.
- Even when we serve Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Who Heals, we still get sick and some of us live with disease.
- Even when we are sure of His presence, sometimes it seems like He isn’t there at all.
- There are times when we cannot feel the peace of Jehovah Shalom, or the victory of Jehovah Nissi, or the nearness of the Hosts of Heaven than surround Jehovah Saboath, or even the precious nearness of the One called Emmanuel.
This fog is real, too. It is no mist or misunderstanding. Wrong has happened instead of right. Others have sinned and we are hurting for it.
I cannot explain this fog. Like you, and like that boat on the river and that truck guiding me through the winter night, I can only go on,
- step by step,
- mile by mile,
- chugging upstream for another try at a landing,
- calling out to Him all the while
- trusting God all the time for a safe journey and a secure landing, even when it seems He is far away, hidden from all my senses.
Let us hear the words of the Psalmist from deep in the fog,
“Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen. “
Psalm 89:46-52 NIV
How long, O Lord ? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men! What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave? O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David? Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations, the taunts with which your enemies have mocked, O Lord, with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one. Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.
1 Peter 2:19-22; 4:12-19 NIV
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. … So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Psalm 139:7-12 NKJV
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
Psalm 51:10-12 NKJV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Song of the Journey
Jesus is the One
1When the day is dark before you,
And the clouds are hanging low.
There is One who watches o’er you,
Ev’rywhere that you may go.
Jesus is the One, Yes, He’s the only One,
Let Him have His way until the day is done;
When He speaks you know, the clouds will have to go,
Just because He loves you so.
2 Oh, if you are sad and lonely,
Life is but an empty tomb.
Breathe a prayer to Jesus only,
He will drive away the gloom.
3 When you come to cross the river,
He will be your Friend and Guide.
You can live with Him forever,
Over on the other side.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved