I’ve been a little busy lately and recently had the pleasure of reading a post on a blog that I really enjoyed. It lined up exactly with my philosophy of “just keep livin!” and it came from my new friend Kate, who I was very sad to leave behind in Michigan, but I am convinced that we will stay in contact for years to come. She has lived right down the road from me for years, our paths taking eerily similar journeys through the deaths of our late husbands, left widows with four young children, and both of us recently remarrying to become moms of 7 children! I hope you enjoy her “kind of crazy” as much as I do.
Several things lately have come up prompting me to once again grapple with the reality of choosing Joy or choosing bitterness in the midst of setbacks, struggles and sometimes downright painful experiences. I had a conversation recently with a good friend of mine about the struggles her and her husband were going through, they have been trying to sell their home for a very long time now, with no success and had just learned that their last attempt to have a child had failed. All of this was met with a heart wrenching, outpouring cry of “why?” Why me, why us, why is God’s answer no when we’ve been praying so long and so hard for this. Her pain is real, and in the middle of this right now, she is truly struggling with anger, anger at the situation, but also at God for his answer of “no”.
Then last night, after weeks of helping her pack up her home, I and my family said goodbye to my mother as she is moving to California where her future is uncertain as she battles liver failure and waits for her health to decline to the point where she is sick enough to receive a new liver. We do not know when we will see her again or what state she will be in when we do. We have prayed for years as a family for some miraculous healing to occur, to take away this disease which robs her body of strength and health and is in fact killing her, but the answer has been “no”.
Four plus years ago as i was faced with a very uncertain future as a young widow with four very small children looking to me for the answers, i asked “why”, screamed it in fact, more times than i can count. I raged and wailed, i struggled at the deepest parts of my soul to understand and reckon this situation God had placed me in. I fought it, I raised my proverbial fist in the air and begged to know how this could happen. Then after a year, yes a year, i asked a group of pastors a pointed question. I asked if it were possible to be content in the situation as God calls us to and yet still struggle with being angry. The answer, “no”, it seems logical, however when you are in the middle of it, logic can sometimes have nothing to do with it. This answer of no propelled me though to the place where i realized that i was choosing anger and bitterness, i wasn’t seeking joy and living in the peace that God offers so freely. From that day on, i decided to choose joy. This joy doesn’t mean that we never have moments of anguish or sometimes still ask the why’s, but it is a purposeful decision to find joy and contentment despite and sometimes right alongside of the pain.
This is the answer i gave my friend as she asked me “what do i do?” I gently in love told her to cry and scream, ask the why’s and then choose joy, choose to embrace the peace God is offering through the pain. This is the answer i gave my kids who cried themselves to sleep because their Nana had to go away, I told them to let the arms of Jesus come around them even though it hurt, because the God who loves them, loves their Nana even more than they do and He has it figured out. This is the answer i give anyone who is struggling today, We may not know the answers today or maybe even ever, but the God of the Universe who loved me enough to send his son to die for me, loves me enough to know the plans he has for me and will provide peace and joy when we seek it.
” For I know the plans i have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon me and come and pray, and i will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and i will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where i have driven you, declares the Lord, and i will bring you back to the place from which i sent you into exile.”