Before They Call I Will Answer

Karen Gempel // Tales From the Trenches


May 22  

 Amen, Amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy . . . But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day, you will not question me about anything (Jn 16:20-23).

Hi, Grandma, what are you doing today? I miss you! I haven’t seen you in such a long time. Can you call me?

I was in my home office finishing work my colleagues needed, and I ignored the dogged, tri-tone dinging of my cell. The phone was several feet away and never rang, so how important could it be? My adult kids were probably group texting. I kept working.

Hi Grandma, are you busy with work? I just wanted to talk since we haven’t gotten together in so long!

When I finally stopped, I saw that there were four voice messages to me from my six-year-old granddaughter.

Grandma, didn’t you get my messages? Why won’t you call me back?

Oh no! How is she only six years old! Deep pangs rolled over me.

 Grandma, I texted you three, now this is four times, and you haven’t called me back, and I‘m waiting so long!

We’d just “met” on Facetime the day before! She’d asked when she and little brother could spend the night with us again.

Soon,” I said.

Maybe tomorrow?” Our three-year-old grandson was hopeful.

Probably not tomorrow,” I answered.

I realized then, that these weren’t just the messages of a bored child fooling with mom’s phone. No, first she sounded happy, then sad and a little fearful, as if she thought I was angry because I hadn’t answered her.

Could some of us be reacting the same way? God, please protect my family! Lord, do you hear me? God, I’m afraid and counting on you! And the longer we are isolated, there might even be these thoughts: I’m talking to you, Lord, but there’s nobody there. Jesus’s conversation with the apostles at the Last Supper seemed to them to go in circles: I will not see you, you’ll be sad, but everyone else will be happy. Then I’ll see you, and you’ll be so happy, you’ll forget you were ever sad.

We all want that end point—when our jobs are secure, our children safe in school, and we can see our family and friends and celebrate.

Like those artless fisherman from two thousand years ago, we don’t quite understand what God wants of us right now, and why. But Jesus tells us to trust in him, no matter what.

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world (Jn 16:33).

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  • Karen,
    I love this! I do often feel like a child wondering when God will respond to my pleas. Especially during this time of quarantine and uncertainty, it’s hard to know what God’s plan is. We can only wait and hope for an answer from him. Jesus I trust in YOU!! Thank you for sharing.

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