Reaching Across the Ocean

I couldn’t be there.

My sister just recently walked through a very difficult time. It was a season of strange, scary, and completely unknown. With my whole heart, I wanted to be there. I wanted to encourage, comfort, help. I wanted to DO SOMETHING!

I wanted to tangibly love her in the place where she was.

But as I sat in my home thousands of miles away across the ocean, I knew that being physically there was not going to work. So, since I really felt like I needed to do something, I started brainstorming things like gift cards and flowers. These were nice things, but truthfully what she needed most was not food or gifts.

What she needed most I couldn’t give.

It made me sad and frustrated. I love the adventure of military life and, truthfully, I have loved where we live. But on that day, that ocean seemed a lot more vast.

I even had a friend message me later that day, having no idea about my sister’s circumstances, and said, “You know what frustrates me most about military life? Being so far from the people we love when they are hurting and struggling and I can’t do anything about it.” Boy, do I get it and, no doubt, you do too.

Military life has had us far away when tragedies happen.

We’ve had parents and loved ones in hospitals and couldn’t be there. We’ve had family lose jobs, have car accidents, struggle with cancer, and so many other things all while we looked on from a distance. It’s hard. We long to be there to help and hold and even sometimes just to sit in the same room so they are not alone or someone else can rest. We come to rely on family members and friends to tell us what is going on and keep us up-to-date on the latest information.

It’s not fun. And just the other day I was in that place again.

How do we walk through those times? How do we love friends and family well when we can’t even help?

The Lord reminded me that the steps to helping are easy: pray, worship, and trust.

Pray: We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26)

Worship: Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

Trust: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

We know who we serve. We know we are not where we are by accident (Acts 17:26). He has truly planned for us to be where we are. And the circumstances of our loved ones are no surprise to Him either.

The cool thing is that even when we cannot be there, He can – and He can do far more than we could ever do. He goes way past gift cards and flowers, impacting lives and even sometimes eternities.

He reminded me of these very things just the other day as I was frustrated and sad. He reminded me that He is able to do far more than I ask or imagine and even intercedes for me in prayer when the words just won’t come.

As you sit far from those you love, longing to be there with them, know that He is already at work. Remember that your location is an intentional act of His as well. May you be comforted and encouraged as He does the same in miraculous ways thousands of miles away.

We worship a mighty God. When I want to hold on tightly and take care of things myself, He reminds me to loosen my grasp and trust Him. He will do a greater work. He can reach across the ocean.

Today, I’m sharing with you a new song by Tori Harper called “Seasons.” I love how she asks the Lord to loosen her grasp and help her be content with the Lord’s “no” as much as she is with His “yes.” Praying He does the same in me.

Living for real,