One evening when my grandson Jim Elliot Shepard was almost three, he found that his parents were going out and he was to be left with Granny. He began to cry, and when the door closed he threw himself on the floor in the hallway, kicking, screaming, beating his head on the carpet. I picked him up in my arms, which required no small effort as he stiffened and howled.
“Jim, would you like me to read you a story?”
Vigorous head shaking and howling.
“Let’s go and rock in the big chair.”
“Jim, sweetheart–shall I get you some apple juice?”
The very personification of desolation and misery, he only roared and bellowed–“No! No! No! I want Mama!”
I tried everything and then, in my desperation, remembered to pray. Why hadn’t I thought of that first? I asked the Lord to show me how to comfort him.
“Shall we go outside, Jim?”
Instantly he relaxed in my arms, turned his tear-stained face up to mine, and, choking with sobs, nodded Yes.
Still holding him in my arms, I opened the door to the carport. The heavy sweetness of jasmine filled the warm Mississippi night. He took a deep breath, as though inhaling the very peace of God. In a tiny whisper he said, “Granny–maybe we’ll see some stars.”
I carried him into the backyard where we could look up through the trees. He was quiet for a long time, nestling into my shoulder, gazing silently at the spangled sky. Then–“Granny, those are crickets I hear. Do you hear them, Granny?”
The quest for satisfaction apart from the love of God is as futile as poor little Jim’s refusal of the only comfort that was available to him that evening. He wanted Mama, and Mama was not there. Once he accepted what WAS offered, he came out of the howling wilderness of his misery and found peace.
I don’t mind admitting to you that I have been in the place that little Jim was. I wanted my husband back and there was no comforting me. I kicked and screamed at God for a long time. Have you found yourself in this very same place? Whom do you allow to comfort you?