Some years ago Larry Crabb Sr. underwent open heart surgery. His son, Larry Crabb Jr., relates this conversation that took place during the trip of getting his dad home after his release from the hospital.
Serious complications kept him in the hospital for 21 days. When he was finally discharged, as I was driving him to his home in South Carolina, mother in the front seat, dad lying down as best he could in the back, my father broke a sober silence with a weak voice: “I’m grateful for all the friends who came to visit me in the hospital. But the visitor I most wanted never came”.
“Who, dad?,” I asked with more than a little curiosity.
“God”, he plaintively replied.
I had no idea what to say, so, uncharacteristically when I’m at a loss for words, I said nothing.
Without any prompt from me, dad waited a few seconds and then, in a voice trembling with joy, added, “I’m so grateful”.
“For what?”, I blurted out. “God’s absence?”
“Oh, Larry, God gave me the privilege of trusting His Word in the absence of His felt presence. He must see a kind of faith in me that I can’t see in myself. I was able to rest in His written promises. I think that pleases Him.”
I needed to hear that. I long for a sense of God’s divine presence all the time in every circumstance. Of course, I’ve never experienced it on a continual basis. During those times when I don’t have a strong sense of God’s presence I tend to beat myself up. But perhaps God is using those times to stretch and grow my faith.