I rise early, quietly slipping out of bed so as not to wake my BH. I glance at the clock and sigh, wondering why I’m awake on a Saturday at 6:00 in the morning. Still groggy, I slide each foot into a slipper, then put on my furry robe; the one my girls gave me several Christmases ago. The inner lining is starting to tear, but I have no thoughts of parting with it. I slip it on and feel the warmth of it. Familiar, comforting…like their hugs.
Yawning from lack of sleep, I decide to sit outside in my gazebo, bringing my journal with me. The view of the local mountains is mezmerizing, especially after a rain shower. The low parts of the valley become hidden beneath the dense clouds, often creating the illusion of a body of water covered by mist. Today, the elongated clouds wrap around each other forming a sort of halo over the sleepy foothills.
Even though the day is young, the heaviness in my heart feels old. Some unexpected events in the previous week had caught me off guard. And you know what? I wasn’t alone.
For one friend, an outing to the park ended up in the emergency room with a little one getting stitches.
For another, a routine trip to the store was waylaid because of a minor car accident.
Yet another friend called and cried from the utter depths of her tired heart. I listened intently and heard her discouragement, her sheer exhaustion from a situation that has gone unresolved for a year and a half. And it feels for all the world like an illusive carrot is being dangled in front of her nose, yet every time she thrusts her hand out to take hold, it is snatched away. She was fully expecting God to come through by speaking directly through an individual, but the unexpected in her case… was that He didn’t.
My mind wanders as I listen to the sycopated cheer-y, cheer-y of a bird, perched on the telephone wire above me. A similar song echoed in response from a nearby pine tree and I thought of you and me and how we are all in this together. Sometimes life is hard but it is good to have each other, even in shared pain.
I know that when the unexpected happens in life, we are being spiritually stretched. And like an under-used muscle that has atrophied after a long absence from exercise, the stretching of it hurts like crazy.
Sometimes, God doesn’t change our situation because He’s trying to change our heart.
I open my journal and scan the pages. A previous entry catches my eye.
“Do you believe that I have good things for you?” God asks of me. I don’t read my response written on the lines, but look away. The question is a new one, just for this moment, and I decide I’m not going to give the Sunday school answer. What would be the point? He knows my heart better than I do.
I come clean with, “Most of the time God. But when unexpected things happen, like this past week, I wonder how it will ever work towards something good.”
His reply comes swiftly. “That’s because when you fret, you are questioning the how. You want to know every detail of how I’m going to heal. How I’m going to make everything work out for your benefit. How I’m going to redeem. How I will receive glory from your suffering.To question how is not. your. job.
His punctuated words shot conviction straight through my heart with the accuracy of an expert archer. Yet, at the same time, the message released the fear that had been suffocating me.
“I didn’t design my sons and daughters to carry burdens. You are not pack mules. You are sheep.”
I scribbled a familiar verse in the margin of my journal.
“Come to Me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matt.11:28
“This is faith: to trust in My promises without knowing how (or when) I will bring them about. You don’t have to fear because there’s no such word as unexpected in my vocabulary. Will You trust Me?”
With a renewed peace I turned the page in my journal and wrote a simple prayer for you, and for me.
Lord, help us to let go of the fretting that so easily becomes worry, leaving us exhausted. Nudge us with your Holy Spirit, reminding us that we are your sheep and we weren’t meant to carry the details of how You will work our circumstances out. Instead, grace us with the faith to believe in Your written word, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Help each of us to empty ourselves of the burdens of the day and the worry of unexpected circumstances into Your very capable hands.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:1-4
How do you handle unexpected circumstances? What is ususally your first response? The comment section is there for you to share whatever is on your heart.