“Hey, Mike, you there?” I whispered.
“Yes, George,” the small voice always answered, “I’m here.”
I can’t tell you how much comfort and peace his voice and words brought me in a time of great trouble.
Being locked in a closet for what seemed like days was normal for me and my brother, Mike. Each day our mother would drop us off at the daycare. After she left, the daycare person would smile at us and without question tell us to get into that closet.
It was so dark and lonely in there. I would go to my corner and pull my knees in tight to my chest and rest my head on my legs. My brother would go to the other side of the closet and sit there with his legs crossed. I could see this right before the door closed, right before the darkness set in.
Each day I would ask that same question, “Mike, are you there?” And he would always respond in his reassuring voice, “Yes, George, I’m here.” He never asked if I was there; he seemed to be a great deal stronger than me. Perhaps he’d been through this darkness before and was now there for me.
What comfort and assurance I received from Mike’s voice. It was so close. Not many words were spoken, but what was spoken was enough. Mike was there with me in the darkness. That knowledge alone gave me the strength to get through each day.
This memory is a recent one for me. It just arrived a few months ago. Having suffered years of abuse in my childhood, memories like these often surface one by one without warning.
Why has it come back to me now?
Over the past few months, I’ve been reading the Gospel of John. John 6:16–21 caught my attention:
That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
Have you ever found yourself overcome with fear? Have you ever encountered such darkness and waves that you’ve cried out, “God, are You there?”
I’m in that place now. No, it’s not the closet of my youth, but it sure feels like it. My wife, my sweet Lisa, is facing the darkness of cancer. She hasn’t been feeling well for quite some time. After many doctor visits, we found ourselves sitting in front of an oncologist. Not a place we ever thought we would be. I’m still a bit numb as I write this now.
Cancer is never a word you expect to hear. As soon as it was spoken, Lisa and I felt darkness closing in all around us. Crushing our hands together, we silently asked, “God, are You there? Did You hear these results? It’s cancer, God. Cancer!”
His answer at first seemed a bit foggy. As a believer, I know that, yes, of course, He is here. But at times, I still find myself fighting the darkness and asking God why. Why does it seem we must go through one dark closet right after another? How much can we take?
I now understand that the release of the memory of my sitting in that closet, dark and lonely for so many days, is for today. It’s a memory God has allowed to surface to bring me, and perhaps you, to a place of peace and comfort. To remind each of us that, even in our darkest times, we are not alone. He is there with us, never abandoning us, never forsaking us. Always giving us the strength to make it through. Hold on to that hope, to that truth, and let it be your strength and comfort in your dark time.
It hasn’t been easy, but Lisa and I are finding that place of peace in the darkness as we look to the light of our Savior. Yes, God is with us, and it’s going to be okay, no matter the outcome. God is stronger than cancer. He is brighter than the darkest night. He is the healer and the redeemer of life. And He will see us through this dark season and the next.
“God, are You here?”
“Yes, George, I’m here. Don’t be afraid.”
* Editor’s Note: Since the submission of this article, George and Lisa have received the wonderful news that she is cancer free. To God be the glory!
Written by George Beasley
Photo by Riccardo Mion