I mentioned in my last post, Why Bother with Biographies?, that I’ve recently read Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose. I once heard Rachel Jankovic say that this is a book that “every human should read,” and I tend to agree, so please don’t read this post in lieu of reading the book. Instead, I hope (for your own sake) that this wee post inspires you to read the book – which, incidentally, is not too long either.
I don’t want to give away the best bits so I’ll try to be brief. I’ve got four encouragements from Darlene’s memoir:
Angels are Busy Doing Stuff
I feel like there are a lot of Christians (myself included) who are a bit shy about angels. We’ve got a children’s book which says, “Angels are everywhere. There might be some here with us right now.” A friend of mine read it once, glanced at me nervously and said, “Do we believe that?”
Perhaps we’re put off by all the dodgy Christmas cards depicting angels as babies with wings. Perhaps we’re put off by the false teachers we’re warned about in Colossians 2 who “delight in false humility and the worship of angels.” Maybe we’re just embarrassed. Whatever the reason, I for one have acted as though angels don’t exist anymore. And yet, they continue to do the Lord’s bidding:
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will. (Psalm 103:20-21)
When we pray for God’s help and protection, it might be that he’s sending angels to care for us. I find this an encouraging thought. The spiritual realm is real, and our team has already won.
Children’s Songs Matter
Things got bad for Darlene; then they got worse. When she was most afraid, the songs she’d learned as a child came back to her – songs she thought she’d long forgotten:
My face and hands were wet with cold perspiration; never had I known such terror. Suddenly I found I was singing a song that I had learned as a little girl… So tenderly my Lord wrapped his strong arms of quietness and calm about me. I knew they could lock me in, but they couldn’t lock my wonderful Lord out. Jesus was there in the cell with me.p. 114
This should encourage us if we are parents of young children (or have any dealings with young children at church). The songs they’re learning now will stick with them. A friend who’s now a missionary once told me that it’s important that we sing sound doctrine with our children because the songs he learnt as a child are the songs he knows best.
Wishy-washy fun schmaltz isn’t going to help a person much if they’re in the firing line. On the other hand, the truths they sing now, even those songs that you’re a bit sick of hearing, might be a lifeline for them one day. (I wrote about this previously.)
Scripture is Worth Memorising
Similarly to the songs, Darlene was sustained by the Word of God that she’d memorised. When her Bible was taken away, she still had the Word written on her heart:
The Lord fed me with the Living Bread that had been stored against the day when fresh supply was cut off by the loss of my Bible. He brought daily comfort and encouragement – yes, and joy – to my heart through the knowledge of the Word.p. 129
Like the tins of fruit I was grateful for when we couldn’t get to the supermarket last year, there may be times in our lives, or our children’s lives, when stored-up Scripture is the only Scripture available. I don’t want empty cupboards if and when that day comes.
And even now, if I’m struggling to sleep or I’m anxious about something, it’s the Scripture I’ve memorised that helps me the most. So it doesn’t need to be at times of extreme suffering that you need the Word hidden in your heart. (For more on this, I recommend “Deeper Still,” which I wrote about here.)
He’s With me When I Don’t Feel it
Many times in Darlene’s account she cries out to God and hears Him answer her through his Word. This is a huge encouragement and a reminder that in times of desperation, the Lord does not abandon us.
But it might lead us to wonder about the times when we’ve prayed and not really heard or felt the Lord answer us clearly. It might make me wonder if I would know the Lord’s presence in the same way if I were in a terrifying situation like that.
In answer to this niggling question, there is a truly glorious moment in the book. There is a time when Darlene does not feel the Lord’s presence with her. Her emotions are telling her that He isn’t there. And then she remembers that our faith isn’t being certain of what we can see or feel:
I was assured that my faith rested not on feelings, not on moments of ecstasy but on the Person of my matchless, changeless Saviour, in Whom is no shadow caused by turning… More than ever before, I knew that I could ever and always put my trust, my faith, in my glorious Lord.p.141
At her lowest point, it wasn’t the feeling of the Lord’s presence that helped her but her trust in His promises. There are times when we are ecstatic with joy in the Lord, and this is a wonderful blessing. But if our relationship with God is based on those times, we will not endure. His unchanging Word will sustain us when our feelings ebb and flow. We trust in what He will do for us, because of who He is and what He has already done in the past:
Quotations are from Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, Authentic Media reprint 2020. We got ours at 10ofthose.com