"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into
various trials, knowing that the testing of your
faith produces patience. But let patience have
its perfect work, that you may be perfect and
complete, lacking nothing."
(James 1: 2-4)
When everything seems to be going wrong and I'm frustrated by my inability to control situations and make them turn out the way I want them to, I have no desire to be patient. I want to scream, I want to eat, I want to spend money I don't have to spend, I want to do anything that will help me escape the terrible feeling of powerlessness that overwhelms me. What I have learned, though, is that none of these things can give me the fix that I'm looking for. The only fix is at the foot of the Cross.
I learned this some eighteen years ago when I made a major life change based on the promises of a man I trusted, a man who prided himself on being a person of integrity whose word could be banked on. When he asked me to marry him, and offered me a job, I had no qualms about moving, or about burning all my bridges behind me, and when a friend warned me not to be so hasty, I was outraged.
It wasn't long before I discovered that my friend's fears were well founded. There was no job, there was no marriage, and there was no turning back. Just one big slice of humble pie, along with confirmation that God's word is the only word that can be banked on one hundred percent of the time.
I was angry at God for letting this happen to me, and wished there were someone else I could turn to. Of course there wasn't, and my mind was in such turmoil that I seriously considered ending my life on the curvy road of a West Virginia mountain. I could drive my car off one of its steep cliffs and everyone would think it was an accident. The only thing that stopped me was a fear of being crippled instead of dying.
In a state of helpless fury, I wept until there were no more tears left to cry, and then, suddenly, I felt enveloped by a great peace, as though the Lord were holding me close and quieting me. A picture flashed through my mind of a wild horse bucking one last time before finally calming down, and in that moment, I was able to release what was in my tightly clenched fists and open them up to receive something better.
When I look back in retrospect to that time of hopelessness, and even further back to the time of anguish and devastation following the loss of my spouse, I can clearly see how death led to newness of life, and closed doors opened to better ones that I would never have imagined possible.
With all these evidences of God's faithfulness, it shames me to admit that I still struggle with doubts and fears when faced with events I don't understand, and I am grateful beyond measure that God loves me unconditionally despite my shortcomings. He is the only one I can be sure will never give up on me, even when I'm ready to give up on myself.
When everything seems to be going wrong, these are the truths I need to cling to, and when my eyes start fixating on the little bits and pieces of the puzzle before me, I need to remind myself that God sees the whole picture, and is working things out for my good and His glory.
So once again, I lay my burdens at the foot of the Cross, and put my trust in Him who loved us so much that He sent His one and only begotten son, Jesus, to die for us so we could be forgiven of our sins and enjoy eternal life.
(Click here to read The Father's Love Letter)