The Art of Mirriam Neal

//angels in the wilderness

There are many good ways to start off a weekend, but waking up with severe pain, unable to use my right leg, wasn’t one of them. As I hobbled on crutches from the car to the emergency room, I found it almost funny – and if my leg hadn’t been hurting so badly, I might actually have laughed. The situation was almost absurd – I’ve used the phrase ‘one thing after another’ to describe 2016 for me, and each time I think What’s the worst that could happen now? The question is answered in the form of another blow. Like finding out you have some kind of arthritis in your right knee, and needing to take anti-inflammatory painkillers while you prop your leg up at home and wait for the bloodwork results.

I mean really, on top of everything else, now I’m laid up and unable to be physically comfortable? WHAT DID I DO? Granted, I would rather handle some physical pain than another emotional whammy, but this was insult to injury. Or rather injury to insult.

I find myself asking why fairly often these days. Why me? Why us? Why now? But in the midst of all the questions, I found an unexpected response. The other night when I couldn’t sleep, I finished reading Matthew and began reading Mark – and three verses struck a very relevant chord.

And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

Talk about one thing after another. Jesus hadn’t ‘done anything’ to deserve this, but it happened anyway. His father was pleased with him – pleased enough to send a physical envoy from heaven to tell him just how pleased – but he didn’t say ‘Now you can rest for a while.’  No – immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness, where he was tested and tempted for forty days. There’s no human sense of ‘fairness’ about it. And yet, moving on, we read, ‘…and the angels ministered unto him.’

God sent his son into the wilderness for forty days in a seemingly unfair move, but he didn’t leave him alone. I believe we, too, are cared for by angels when driven into our deserts. This ministering comes in the form of encouragement from family, from friends. Of unexpected little good things happening – of a good book, or an excellent idea, or finding a great new song, or a surprise letter. I think sometimes we’re so busy waiting for a ‘Sign’ of God’s presence to hit us between the eyes that we forget he’s a still, small voice – and sometimes he ministers in still, small ways.

It’s been a rough year, and the last few months have been even rougher than the rest; and the desert may be dry and vast, but I am still alive, I am still breathing, and I am still working. Nobody said life was fair, but his eye is on the sparrow, and so it is on you. And me. And I’m learning to see the touch of ministering angels, whatever the disguise.

 

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