When it rains, it pours, amirite? (Am I right?)
Earlier this week, on his way home from work, Jake called and told me he was in an accident. Everyone was fine. But our poor little car wasn’t. It was totaled. Bye bye sweet little red thang (just kidding, it was a Ford Focus, definitely not a thang).
I was actually pretty emotionless about it. It almost just seemed like another drop in the bucket of 2018. Of the fall. Of this season of life.
Can I just get really real here for a second? For one of the first times in our marriage, and in my walk with Christ, I am feeling frustrated with God.
When Jake was gone at the beginning of the year, I trusted God. When Archer was so sick and it looked hopeless, I trusted God. When we had no idea what we would do about childcare in the spring, I trusted God. When we were seeking the Lord on ministry, I trusted God. When we lost our sweet baby Marvel, I trusted God.
But this is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am tired and weary. I’m done. I’m over it. Not feeling it. Here’s a little insight into my prayers that night:
“Okay God. What’s the deal. Of all things. We can’t even keep that car? He was almost home. You couldn’t have just given us this one pass? Don’t we have enough stuff going on right now? Maybe just one fiery furnace at a time?
Okay. Fine. I’ll pray. Dear God. Thanks that Jake is okay. Please provide a car. Okay. Amen.
Well that was a poor prayer. Not sure I can do much better than that right now though, God. Sorry.”
It’s not often that I struggle to pray. More often than not, I usually struggle to stay focused and not ramble. The Lord often gets my stream of consciousness and hears all my thoughts on all the things. Like we are just chit-chatting. But not last night. You know when you’re mad at your spouse and you give them the silent treatment? Yeah. That’s about how it was.
The next morning, my alarm was set for 5 am, just like it is every morning. I get up and have some coffee and do my quiet time. My prayer and Bible reading and praise time. It’s funny – God always knows what we need, and that morning, I think He knew that I would disobediently turn those alarms off, so He decided that waking up a little one who was ready to nurse would serve as a better alarm. So shortly before 5 am, Bash woke up, and I plodded to his room to feed him. I was wide awake after that and decided to just go ahead and pull out of my Bible and BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) packet.
As I read, as always, the Holy Spirit ministered to me. We are studying David in 1 Samuel right now, along with the corresponding Psalms he wrote.
As I read about David’s disobedience and lies, then his change of heart; as I read his petitions to God to redeem him; as I read of his desire to glorify God above all else… my heart was softened.
I was reminded of the stories earlier in the Old Testament where the Israelites leave Egypt and wander in the wilderness while they wait for the Promised Land. God delivers them from the Egyptians who are keeping them as slaves. God intervenes and parts the Red Sea to allow them to cross safely. God provides manna each morning – exactly what they need. And yet… they complained.
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Exodus 16:2-3)
And that morning, I thought, I sound exactly like the children of Israel. The Lord has provided and provided and provided. He has blessed and blessed and blessed. He has kept His promises over and over, time and time again. And here I am, complaining about my situation.
Jake was safe. The boys and I hadn’t been in the car. We had friends to call on, and when Jake asked a buddy to come pick him up, that buddy brought another buddy, and Jake was encouraged by our community. Immediately, people offered support, both prayer and tangible, and it was so clear that God’s hand was with us. So why I was acting like a spoiled child?
Please understand – I think it is totally okay to experience emotions! Frustration, anger, disappointment. But what I knew in that moment was that I had allowed the emotions to take root in my heart. Instead of feeling them and expressing them to Jake and then to the Lord in prayer and then allowing the Holy Spirit to bring me joy… I let them stay. I gave them safe harbor in my heart, and I fed them.
Friends, that is never a good idea. I am so thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You know what I’m talking about, right? When you’re so pressed with your sin that you can’t sit down until you confess it?
I resolved to get my heart right, and instead of allowing that frustration to dictate my feelings and thoughts and actions, I would praise the Lord, right through this storm. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
I have read this verse over and over this week. One thing God has really been teaching me in this season – to meditate on His truth until my heart believes it as strongly as my mind does. Every time I’m tempted to harbor my frustration, I am taking my thoughts captive (casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. II Corinthians 10:5) and speaking truth into this situation.
It’s amazing how asking God to provide peace and actively submitting myself to His Lordship can tangibly result in help in our times of trouble. I have still struggled this week, but it has been easier than I thought. It’s always easier for me when I truly choose to have joy and focus on my blessings.
I would love to hear what verses or songs you like to meditate on when you are going through a challenging time!