Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I've been looking out the window constantly since I got up this morning, watching and waiting for the snow we've been promised. Unfortunately, all we've gotten so far is ice... sleet, freezing rain, whatever you want to call it. Snow is soft, fluffy, and beautiful... ice is just ice. Cold, unrelenting, and damaging.
I've thought a lot today about how often forecasts are wrong... and how in life, we aren't given a forecast. Sure, we can plan and predict how things will turn out, but there's no daily update from a guy in a suit pointing out the ups and downs of our day, no likelihood of tragedy or excitement, no "bad with a chance of awful."
We plan for days of snow that coats everything in a pure, white blanket and erases the hard edges of life with its softness. Sometimes, no matter what we plan or what we predict, that snow doesn't come, and instead we're pelted with ice... covering our world with a slick, dangerous sheet that makes living a lot harder. Not only can we not know exactly how life will play out, we can only guess (at best) and sometimes our guesses (even educated ones) turn out to be very wrong. The forecast of snow (or sunshine) is eclipsed by storm that is not of our planning, or of our choosing.
I feel like my world is swirling with storms right now... not my own, particularly, but of those around me. Why do these storms come? Beyond that, how do we possibly prepare for something we cannot predict? It's a scary thing to watch the sky shift from blue to nearly black in a matter of minutes; our lives can do the same. A phone call, test result, accident, or decision can throw us into a season that is totally unexpected and seemingly impossible to endure. I've been wrestling with these questions for the past several weeks. I've heard many preachers say it's not right to question God, but if we're not willing to ask questions during the storms, then why would He allow them?
I guess we should be asking what God wants us to learn, how we can use our experience to help others, and whether we are responding in a Christ-like way. I understand that most of the time during one of these unexpected days (or weeks or months or years), our knee-jerk reaction is to want to scream into the nearest pillow, not make sure we're gaining every nugget of spiritual wisdom possible from a trying time. And, from my life that has been relatively tragedy-free for these 24 years, it's easy for me to say that. But the last year has been a challenging one, and while I'm not facing anything remotely close to the situations I've already mentioned, I have struggled with (and hopefully improved in) this area of asking the right questions.
We all face discouragement, and trials, and seasons of sadness. But true joy is never found by having peace
in your circumstances; it’s found by having peace in your spirit, and only Christ can give you that. If you're in the middle of a situation that wasn't part of your "life forecast" then by all means, scream into a pillow, cry, wrack your brain for what in the world is going on... and then remember God is sovereign. He, unlike us, doesn't need a green screen covered in predictions to know exactly what is happening in your life, including whatever it is you're dealing with. And what has caught you totally by surprise was planned before time began by Him, for a specific purpose. I don't know what that purpose is, and you probably don't, and we may never fully understand. But there is one. I don't know about about you, but I find it comforting that something I didn't plan was planned by the Creator of the universe, and all for my good.
Genesis 50:20 says, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant into unto good, to bring it to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Of course this verse is referring to Joseph and how the Lord preserved his life so that one day he could save his brothers (and all of Egypt). But, like everything else in the Bible, it's applicable to us. Things that are bad, things that we couldn't possibly see as good, things like death and cancer and illness and depression and betrayal... these things aren't part of our ideal forecast. They're not beautiful, like snow; they're damaging, like ice. They wrap their frigid grip around our hearts and threaten to freeze out any life at all... but they can't if we don't allow them to. God means them for good.
Honestly, I don't understand why these storms are present...a friend struggling with medical issues and unresolved questions... a friend dealing with a parent's battle with cancer... a student's unexpected, tragic loss of both grandparents... a church family grieving a lost loved one... another family dealing with the health issues of a child.... friends facing an uncertain future...I don't understand these things, but God does. Joseph didn't understand a lifetime of being misunderstood, misrepresented, and mistaken, but God did. It was for Joseph's good. Trials are for our good, and ultimately God's glory... we need no greater example of this than Calvary.
So please, those who are hurting tonight... and you are many, I know... trust Him. Endure the ice, allowing the storm to force you to answer the tough questions (or ask them). Learn, change, or help if that's what is required. And then wait for the snow... the soft, pure blanket that covers the hurt and becomes the thing of beauty that He planned.