Last week many Australians were caught up with the search for a 14-year-old autistic boy lost in the freezing and dense undergrowth at Mount Disappointment in Victoria. As the time went into the third day I must admit I was starting to lose hope. Then around lunchtime on Wednesday a lone searcher happened upon him cold, but well, (although later reports suggest he may have broken a bone I his foot). The joy and relief was felt all over Australia, and even in the UK where the BBC also covered the story. The picture of him being carried into the first-aid post will stay with me for a long time.
As I watched on over the three days, two thoughts came to my mind. The first was how we humans instinctively react to a situation like that, so much so that hundreds and hundreds of people will give up their time to join in the search and the rest of us watched on, willing them to find that lost boy. Why do we react like that? We wouldn’t react like that if it was somebody’s pet, but we will, if it is another human being.
Even people who don’t believe that God made humans in his image and therefore occupy a special place in the scheme of things, still feel intuitively that humans are more than just another ‘animal, species, the result of blind, unplanned evolutionary processes’. I believe this ‘inconsistency’ points to something God has planted in our hearts that even the effects of the fall has not completely destroyed. Furthermore, that people still intuitively believe in ‘right and wrong’ is another remnant of this implanted sense. Romans Chapters 1 and 2 have something important to say about this. If you want to know more about this idea, look up C. S. Lewis’ Book, Mere Christianity for a brilliant exposition of this very important truth.
The other thing that struck me about the search for the lost boy was the mother’s anguished cry for help. She said at one point that she was not a praying person but that she is praying that they will find her lost son. We don’t know if she gave God thanks when he was found, but I certainly hope she did.
This raises the whole question of prayer in time of need, or even crisis. The scripture encourages us ‘to cast all our cares upon God for he cares for us.’ Jesus encouraged us to keep praying and not give up, as the parable of the persistent widow teaches.
A friend of ours emailed us a week ago to say that her dying husband asked the Lord into his heart. She wrote to tell us this because she knew that we, along with many others, where praying for him. She added, that it shows the importance of never giving up. He passed into the presence of the Lord on Thursday night.
Many people’s prayers were answered last week when they found that lost boy. We can all think of other circumstances when God has graciously given us what we asked for. So, never give up!
One last word; sometimes we don’t get what we ask for. What about that? Then we remember the words of Jesus in the garden, ‘Father, if it is your will, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but yours be done.’
The faith required to face that outcome is often much greater than when we receive what we wanted. The ultimate outcome for our own walk with God is often much deeper than the particular troubles we might be facing at any given time. Hebrews 12: 1 to 11 has much to help us in these times, especially where it says, ‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’
Never give up!