We often travelled by skin boat (called a umiak) when visiting our family’s tin mine in the White Mountains in Alaska, USA. The boats were made of walrus hide stretched over a framework. In my first year of life, wrapped completely in sealskin, I was lactose intolerant and screamed and threw up that entire nightmare trip up the Yukon River. The incessant bawling took its toll on any adult nerve. Back then allergies were a different story.
When we reached the mine, my father threw the howling bundle that was me, from the heaving umiak into the arms of indigenous workers on the riverbank. “I couldn’t tell which end of the bundle was screaming, ” my father would chuckle in his retelling, “Not that it mattered.” It was just a casual throw, but someone waded out from shore and grabbed me in time. Was there just a moment of hesitation before I was caught, an opportunity instead to drop my relentless noise into those icy, arctic waters? I’ve sometimes wondered, as it became one of his favourite stories.
But we can never doubt the love of our Father God, Who cares for each of us as though we were the only one He had to care for. The apostle Paul is specific about that care at the end of Romans 8, making two lists of ten items each, covering every single thing that might make us think that God doesn’t love us anymore, or cause us to be afraid or anxious. I’ve always found that every pain and suffering that I’ve ever experienced is included:
“Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35,38-39 AMPC)
God, our heavenly Father, can do everything but fail. May we begin to count exclusively on His love as we encounter some of the many possibilities that Paul lists.