“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him, he also hears their cries and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19
Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage, grew up as the child of a pastor but eventually abandoned his faith and the church altogether. In his short story, “The Open Boat”, Crane gives voice to his struggle with faith and meaning and God.
The story revolves around three survivors of a ship lost at sea during a horrendous storm. The three men are making their way upon the waves in the uncovered life boat, braving wave after wave of the violent, turbulent storm - just trying to survive. After days at sea and near the end of all their hope for rescue and safety, they come within sight of land.
However, the tide and the waves seem intent upon preventing their open boat to make a landing on the shore. On the lips of one of the characters, Crane writes what must have been a fairly honest testimony of his own struggle with faith and providence: “If I am going to be drowned, if I am going to be drowned, if I am going to be drowned, why in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate the sand and the trees? When it occurs to a man that Nature doesn’t regard him as important and that she feels she not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple and then he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and there is no temple.”
Crane is showcasing how hard it is to attempt to live in a closed universe where there is no God and we are but pawns to a nameless, faceless, cold, and impersonal Fate. He wants to complain - but in the final analysis there is no one to hear his complaint and nothing to be done but accept the cruel fate handed out.
What a stark contrast to Psalm 145:18-19! As a believer, there is no tragedy of having no one to call upon for help. As a believer, there is no frustration of having no one to hear our complaints and cries for justice and help.
The psalmist celebrates the truth that “the LORD is near to all who call upon him” and that “he also hears their cries and saves them.” The good news is that LORD is near to those who suffer and cry out for help, yet the even better news is that he not only is near to sympathize with our weakness and need, but he is also mighty to save.
Thomas Watson, a preacher from several generations ago, expressed beautifully the way our cries for help reach our faithful, powerful, and caring Savior: “Prayer delights God’s ear. It melts his heart. It opens his hands. Plead with him earnestly, and wither he will remove your affliction or remove your impatience.”
God welcomes your cries for help personally this day. He is near to you in your crying out for help today. He is mighty to save you in the middle of your need for help today.
“He is able. He is able. He is willing. Doubt no more.” So, go ahead, let your requests be known. Ask for help and you will find a helper for your need - the LORD!