I just read a letter from the Focus mailbag that convicted me of sometimes being shortsighted. It was written in response to a recent Focus broadcast by a woman I’ll call Maria.
About thirty years ago, Maria and her husband relocated to California with their one-year-old child. Not long after the boxes were unpacked, Maria decided to get plugged into her new community by volunteering with a number of Christian ministries. She was enjoying her new life and friends when a rather unexpected turn-of-events occurred: Maria discovered she was pregnant . . . with twins.
Maria wrote, “I was shocked and felt my world was turned upside down. How was I going to cope with three babies under three?”
I know how much work two babies were at that age, so I can appreciate her feelings of being overwhelmed at the thought of three youngsters in diapers. Maria confessed, “I was actually upset with God for allowing this ‘inconvenience’ in my life in the midst of all I was doing for Him.”
Pause there for a moment. Isn’t that such a human response to the unexpected? We’re going through life just clicking along when—Boom!—the car breaks down, the roof starts to leak, or you lose your job. Rather than step back and attempt to get God’s perspective on the situation, we’re quick to vent our frustration or anger at God.
I love what Alan Redpath, British evangelist and author, had to say about this tendency to be mad at God rather than seeing God’s hand at work. He writes:
“There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, if has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But I refuse to become panicky, as I life up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart.”
Isn’t that a powerful insight? It’s also exactly what Maria experienced. About twenty years after her initial frustration with God over this unexpected “inconvenience,” one of her college-aged twins was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. According to the doctors about the only way to save her daughters’ life would be a stem cell transplant. This prognosis felt risky back in the late 1990’s when the procedure was new.
Maria writes, “Thankfully, our daughter’s survival rate increased dramatically due to the fact that she had a sister with identical DNA.” I get chills thinking about that. Talk about God’s provision.
Once again, Maria had some soul searching to do over the good news: “Imagine my embarrassment when I remembered the arrogant behavior I expressed toward God many years earlier.” She adds, “I still cringe when I think of how selfish and short-sighted I was. In spite of my shortcomings, the Lord was gracious and forgiving, providing the perfect solution for our family that wouldn’t be revealed until two decades later. Our daughter received her transplant, returned to college, and is now a teacher.”
When adversity or hardship comes your way, what’s your first reaction? Do you get mad at God? Do you have difficulty seeing any “benefit” from the difficult news? Trust me. I don’t ask these questions because I’ve got this all worked out. Rather, I’m still a work in progress and I need the reminder that God is sovereign; yes, there’s more to the story than what I can see at any given moment.
Indeed, as Maria’s letter demonstrates, God is familiar with the details, hopes and dreams of my life—and He cares.