The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.Psalm 34:17 (NLT)
In my youthful years, I used to lifeguard during the summers at inner city pools. I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed the fact that I was in charge of ensuring that nobody drowned. We had practice rescues and regular training so we were ready to go at a moment’s notice. Of course, what no one really talks about is that at a pool, you rarely, if ever, have to perform a rescue. In my four years as a lifeguard, I think I had to get three people. That’s it. Then, of course there was the time I rescued someone who didn’t need it.
He was a little guy, maybe eight years old. He seemed to have very good swimming skills for a kid his age. I watched as he swam around the shallow end of the pool without touching. He did good! Then he ventured out to deeper water. I kept watching (It’s not stalking, it’s what lifeguards are supposed to do). Suddenly, he began going under, then lunging for the surface, gasping for air. After a couple of minutes of this, I thought I noticed a bit of panic in his eyes as he kept sinking deeper and deeper after he surfaced to grab a breath, so in I went. I swooped in, pulled him up off the bottom of the pool and was the hero of the day! Except, he wasn’t drowning. He was diving. He was training. To advance to the next level of swim class, he needed to be able to surface dive down to the bottom of the deep end. I was a bit embarrassed.
Often times, we view God as a lifeguard who will just swoop in and fix all of our problems. In fact, verses, like our verse today, are used to justify that view. But, here’s what I’ve come to know about God. It’s all about timing. He doesn’t make unneeded rescues.
Yes, He will rescue us. Sometimes He realizes that the struggle isn’t so much of a struggle after all. Then there are the times where we create our own mess. God will lead us out of it, but we must still face the consequences of our actions. Then, of course, there are times that He knows we need to practice our faith, diving deeper into the depths, to advance to the next level of understanding Him. He knows that we must go through tough stuff to grow our faith.
God hears us when we call on Him for rescue. But, He alone knows when to go and when to let us train in our faith some more.