“Hey, Mike, you there?” I whispered.
“Yes, George,” the small voice always answered. “I’m here.” I can’t tell you how much comfort and peace his voice and words brought me in a time of great trouble.
Being locked in a closet for what seemed like days was normal for me and my brother, Mike. Each day, my mother would drop us off at daycare. After she left, the daycare person would smile at us and immediately tell us to get into that closet.
It was so dark and lonely in there. I would proceed to my corner, pull my knees in tight to my chest, and lay my head onto my legs. My brother would go to the other side of the closet and sit there with his legs crossed. I could see him right before the door closed, right before the darkness set in.
Each day, I would ask that same question. “Mike, are you there?” And he would always respond in his reassuring voice. “Yes, George. I am here.” He never asked if I was there; he seemed to be a great deal stronger than me. Perhaps he had been through this darkness before and wanted to support me through it.
I received tremendous comfort and assurance from Mike’s voice. It was so close. Not many words were spoken, but the words he spoke were enough. Mike was there with me in the darkness. His presence gave me the strength to get through each day.
This memory is a recent one for me. It just arrived a few months ago. Having suffered years of abuse in my childhood, memories like these often surface one by one without warning. Why has it come back to me now?
Over the past few months, I have been reading the Gospel of John. John 6:16-21 caught my attention: “That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here!’ Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!” (NLT).
Have you ever found yourself overcome with fear? Have you ever encountered such darkness and waves that you’ve cried out, “God, are you there?”
I’m in that place now. No, it’s not the closet of my youth, but it sure feels like it as my wife, my sweet Lisa, faces the darkness of cancer. She hadn’t been feeling well for quite some time. After many doctor visits, we found ourselves sitting in front of an oncologist. Not a place we ever thought we would be. I’m still a bit numb as I write this now.
Cancer is never a word you expect to hear. As soon as it was spoken, Lisa and I felt darkness closing in all around us. Crushing our hands together, we silently asked, “God, are you there? Did you hear these results? It’s cancer, God. Cancer!”
At first, His answer seemed a bit foggy. As a believer, I know that He has promised He will never leave me. But at times, I still find myself fighting the darkness and asking, “Why God? Why does it seem that we have to go through one dark closet right after another? How much can we take?”
I now understand that remembering the darkness and loneliness I felt inside the closet at daycare is important for my present circumstance. It’s a memory God has allowed to surface to bring me, and perhaps you, to a place of peace and comfort. To remind us that, in our dark times, we are not alone. He is there with us—never abandoning us and never forsaking us. Always giving us the strength to make it through. Hold on to that hope and truth and let it be your strength and comfort in your dark time.
It hasn’t been easy, but Lisa and I are finding that place of peace in the darkness as we look to the light of our Savior. Yes, God is with us, and it’s going to be okay, no matter the outcome. God is stronger than cancer. He is brighter than the darkest night. He is the healer and the redeemer of life. And He will see us through this dark season and the next.
“God, are You there?”
“Yes, I’m here, George. Don’t be afraid.”