By Stephanie Parker
I’ve recently discovered that faith and Spiderman have something in common. Some of you know that my 3 year old son, Maverick, thinks he’s Spiderman. He introduces himself as Spiderman to perfect strangers, then, he shoots his ‘web’ at them. In typical Spiderman fashion, he is constantly jumping, running, fighting ‘bad guys’ and saving people. As you can imagine, trying to get ‘Spiderman’ to sit for 5 seconds to practice his ABC’s or eat a decent meal is like putting a hamster in his wheel and telling him, “Don’t move!”
A few weeks ago however, Maverick (aka Spiderman) fell from the loft in my parents’ house and broke his leg. A clean break through his fibia and tibia. He has to wear a cast on his whole leg for the next 5 weeks. He’s too young to use crutches, so mommy and daddy are getting their workout carrying him everywhere. I kind of feel like I have an infant again… only he’s 30 lbs and can talk back. The biggest blow is that he can’t be his usual, independent and tenacious ‘Spiderman’ self. He clings to us because we literally have to meet every one of his needs. It breaks my heart and 5 weeks can’t come fast enough. The ONLY bright side to all of this is that he actually sits and practices his ABC’s with me and listens. He is the literal definition of a 'captive audience.' I’ve also noticed my husband and my son’s relationship growing stronger because Daddy has been able to have intentional time with him that isn’t interrupted by leaping and fighting ‘bad guys’ and ‘saving the day.’ It’s added a different dimension to their relationship.
I share all of this because it dawned on me how much my ‘Spiderman’s’ new-found dependence reminds me of a trial our family has gone through recently. Before this trial began, we were starting to feel like Spiderman. Things were great! We were jumping and leaping and ‘saving the day,’ so to speak. Then, after one phone call, it all came crashing down. The events that transpired threatened to unfairly take something we hold very dear. This whole ordeal lasted over 2 months. We were starting to wonder if the latter part of the verse, “God gives and takes away,” would become a reality for us (Job 1:21). (You can read more about the phone call that started it all here: https://www.theshepherdstreasure.com/…/suffering-well-and-t…)
Then, something miraculous happened. God saved us in a way that only he could. It was truly a miracle from his hand. I’ve have never, in my life, personally experienced a work of God like this one. It reminded me of the stories in the Bible of Gideon and the Midianites, David and Goliath, Moses and the Egyptians. Not as dramatic of course, but God did something so miraculous in the most unlikely circumstances with the most unlikely people that there was no denying that it was God. There was no choice but to give Him all the glory for it. I was so blown away and humbled that God chose to save us from our trial the way He did. He deserves endless praise for how He delivered our family.
BUT this post is NOT about how God saved us from our trial.
You see, God doesn’t always save us. He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered. Sometimes ‘he gives’ and sometimes does, in fact, ‘take away’ (Job 1:21). This post is about how God could actually be GIVING to you, when it seems like he's TAKING from you. This perspective has the power to change everything!
Let me explain. While I was in the middle of rejoicing and praising God for what he had done, how he had saved our family from our trial, the strangest emotion came over me. I can only compare what I felt to the feelings of homesickness that wash over you when have been away from a loved one a long time. You see, during this struggle, I literally had to cling to God for dear life. My ‘Spidey’ powers had been stripped away. Just like 'Spiderman' with his broken leg, I had no choice but to trust in and cling to God in a way that I never had before. I was struggling with overwhelming feelings of doubt, worry, anger, frustration and grief through all of this. By the grace of God, I mustered up the strength to take each doubt, each tear, each worry, and all of my anger and fear and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
Through His Word, his perfect Word, God replaced my doubts with trust, my tears with joy, my fears with hope and my worry with a peace that passes all understanding. He did all of this BEFORE I knew how God would deliver us. IF he would deliver us. Only when my ‘Spiderman’ powers were taken from me, could God’s power truly be displayed.
It took ‘Spiderman’s’ leg being broken before he could finally pay attention and practice his Alphabet. It took me coming to the end of myself before I could truly sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to his heartbeat. I experienced firsthand how true Psalm 34:18 is when it says, “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
My husband has been able to develop a deeper relationship with Maverick because he’s not off ‘saving the world’ and ‘fighting bad guys.’ In the same way, I was able to draw close to Jesus when I was forced to simply ‘be still and know (Psalm 46:10).’
When this long trial had ended, I was faced with this realization that I didn’t “need” God every second just to survive my emotions and circumstances anymore. I had fallen so in love with Jesus in the midst of this trial and felt so close to him that, in some odd way, I was sad it was ending.
I was homesick for Jesus!
It was the trial, NOT the outcome, that makes me now want to draw near to him every second of every day. It was the trial, NOT the deliverance, that made me fall in love with him more than I’ve ever loved him before. Yes, the verse is true that says, 'God gives and takes away,' but sometimes, God IS giving, even if it FEELS like he's taking. When I felt like we might LOOSE something I held dear, God GAVE me a reliance and intimacy with him that far outweighed what we could have lost.
This post is for those of you who are going through something difficult right now that you just want resolution for. Don’t, whatever you do, miss the beauty and the purpose in the pain... the giving in the midst of the taking. What you choose to do in your trial could be more life changing than how the trial is resolved.
Recognize that you are NOT Spiderman… hate to break it to you! No matter how hard you try to control, intervene or change your circumstances in your own strength, it will never result in the peace, life, hope, joy and purpose that ONLY God can give if you surrender to him. I have learned that lesson the hard way and will probably have to relearn it quite a few more times over in my lifetime.
You can’t truly lean on God in a trial or in life if you don’t make prayer and God’s Word a priority. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Not only is God’s Word flawless, it is ALIVE. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two edge sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.”
You won’t know how flawless and alive God’s word is if you don’t use it… if you don’t run to it FIRST when you face emotions or circumstances that threaten to steal your joy and your faith.
When you go to God’s Word, you go to Jesus himself. John 1 says that Jesus IS the Word of God, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” When you pray God’s Word over your emotions and your circumstances, watch as Jesus himself pierces through your doubt, destroys your fear and brings life to your weary soul. No one will ever make me doubt God’s Word because I have seen it come alive. Understanding how alive and true God's Word is, was another gift God GAVE me in the midst of the 'TAKING'. More than anything, I want YOU to experience this gift!
Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that you might have Life and have it abundantly.” It’s amazing what happens once you’ve really tasted the abundant life in Christ. It makes you want to share it with others so they can experience it too. That is why I’m writing this. Don’t wait until heaven to experience the abundant life that God has put in front of you today. Don't miss the gifts God longs to give you in the midst of the 'taking.' My prayer for you is that you truly seek God on the mountains AND in the valleys. Only God is capable of turning your valleys into mountains. With God’s strength, Spiderman ain’t got nothing on you!
Stephanie Parker has 3 main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids! When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business. She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need. Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development. After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf.
In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learned and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family! You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.