Originally published in the January 2016 issue of The Mount Magazine.
I am trapped inside a small box. My legs are bent at the knee, my torso is folded over, and my head is bowed down. I cannot move, I cannot breathe, and I cannot break free. What I can control are my thoughts; what I struggle to control are my emotions.
I cry out to God for help but nothing happens. He does not come; He does not give me freedom, and my fears smother me. Where is God, does He hear my prayers?
But instead of setting me free, God reminds me of a promise He made to me when I was a little girl. In the innocence of my youth, He came into my life and spoke to me in a way I could understand. He told me of His love, and He gave me songs of praise to place in my heart. He taught me about rainbows, butterflies and the warmth of sunny days. He gave me peace.
I did not understand what peace was at that age, nor did I know that it would be my friend when I needed it most. I did not believe that it was a blessing only God could give.
So I lived on, and year after year, life came as it would. Ups and downs, trials and tribulations, pains and joys. I lost my mom, I lost my friend, and I lost my nephew. I cried, I fought, and I struggled. And then I found myself trapped inside the small box.
Inside the box there is no joy, no laughter, and no promise of peace. There is no room to stretch my legs, to move my head, or to unfold my arms. So I remained bowed down; cramped, scared and confused.
Days pass and nothing changes. I cry out again, but God never comes. Instead He continues to remind me of His promise, and this time I remember the details. I remember where I was when He gave it to me; I remember the joy it brought me even as a young girl.
He made the promise on a sunny day while I was hunting four-leaf clovers in the grass. My legs were folded under me, my head bowed down. God’s voice sounded like whispers inside a sea shell. I listened deeply within my spirit and that’s when I heard Him say, “Look up, but not with your eyes; find me with your heart. Seek me within your spirit, and know I am always there.”
The promise was whispered to me as a child, remembered in my weakest moment, and stamped on my heart in the darkest time of my life. It was unshakeable.
While inside the box, I took God’s Word as my own and I combined His promise with what I’d learned through my Bible lessons. I could hear Him say through Scripture, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11).
I heard Him call for me to be strong. He said, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). And then I heard a voice demand that I stand up, break free of my fears and know that He is God.
Even in my weakened state I became encouraged; I became a conqueror. I stood firm to my feet, and the walls of the box fell on all sides. It could no longer hold me, so I resumed my place in peace and found the strength to move on.
How often do we find ourselves trapped inside the small box of despair, forgetting the promises God has made to us over the years, accepting defeat in spite of His mercy and grace? How often do we feel God’s absence, forgetting that he will never leave or forsake us? God is planted deep within our hearts; His presence is always there.
When we cannot find the strength to look up from a low place, we must turn our hearts toward the heavens and let God lift us up through His Word and His promises. We must remember that we are winners.
Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.