Trusting God with the Uncertainties of Life

Trusting God with the Uncertainties of Life

By Michele Howe ….Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2: 12b

“We like to serve from the power position. We’d rather be healthy, wealthy, and wise as we minister to the sick, poor, and ignorant. But people hear the gospel best when it comes from those who have known difficulty. If we preach God’s Word yet have little personal familiarity with suffering, the credibility gap makes it difficult to speak into others’ lives. But our suffering levels the playing field.”
Randy Alcorn

After yet another long, lingering, cloud-covered Michigan winter where we transitioned immediately from cold to hot, I was so ready for a sunny relaxing summer to begin. But God had other plans. That sentence alone puts the fear of God into my heart and soul because the closer I edge toward the age of sixty, I have learned from experience that God most often uses pain, suffering, and unexpected upsets (of all sizes, shapes, and colors) to mold me more into the image of Jesus.
The happily naïve and ever hopeful me began marking off the days on the calendar as I anticipated June, July, and August…the months when my husband has a reprieve from teaching and coaching. Summer: those precious days and weeks when we squeeze in fun and frivolity with family and friends on a more consistent basis. However, June started out with a wee hour of the morning message on my phone from my father who wanted me to call him as soon as I awoke. Nothing like receiving a cryptic voice mail first thing in the morning to get one’s heart rate pumping. The long and the short of it was that my eighty-year-old mother had three brain aneurysms one of which had just burst and all three would require brain surgery. Fast-forward from the ten days my mother spent in the ICU to a six-week recovery period before the final surgery was completed. That almost fatal incident has been descriptive of my life for the past several years.
To be precise, our family has grieved the loss of two dear loved ones who took their own lives leaving family and friends trying to make sense of the immensity of their pain that compelled them to give up on life completely. My son moved across the country and his recent wedding landed right after my mom’s first brain aneurysm burst. For my part, I was experiencing troubling physical symptoms that required multiple uncomfortably (read: painful!) tests to determine the problem (and remedy.)  I freakishly contracted cellulitis in my index finger after being pricked by a thorn while weeding which required yet another powerful course of strong antibiotics. All the while my two primary freelance jobs had ceased due to editorial and magazine shifts. To say that I felt a sense of free falling on a daily basis is an understatement.
Just as I was regaining my emotional equilibrium one of my dearest friends fell hard in a parking garage and broke her hip right after we had parted ways after attending an evening baseball game. I awoke the morning after our lovely evening out a distressing phone message telling us that my friend had fallen minutes after we had said goodbye and was in a local hospital awaiting hip surgery. The painful irony is that my friend and I had been discussing how difficult aging is…and she had just undergone a DEXA scan that very morning to gauge if her osteoporosis had progressed. Honestly, because of the circumstances I felt a wee bit shell-shocked myself about the whole situation as I was again reminded of the frailty of life.
Each of these situations contains their own specific challenges and solutions. Alone any one of them may be considered traumatic. Adding all these scenarios together is what tips a normally cool, calm, and collected woman over the edge. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. To be clear, I thought I was handling everything (everyone) just fine, thank you very much. Until, that is, I began awakening in the middle of night with heart palpitations and my days left me feeling irritable, and sometimes weepy. All three are my personal tells that I need to rest and regroup. Easier said than done when you’re A) a woman. B) a caregiver. But God. This is the precise moment in time when God reminds me (again and again and again) that He isn’t counting on my strength to cope and get the job done. I’m counting on His power and strength to see me through today (and all my tomorrows.)

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I often refer back to the quotation above by Randy Alcorn, as I need frequent reminders of its truth. We all do want to love and serve and minister to those around us from the “power position.” We want (expect?) to be healthy, wealthy, and wise as we seek to meet the various needs of those we love. But in the real world, God often allows us to suffer some pain and endure seasons of genuine weakness smack dab in the middle of our responsibilities and callings. I hate that.
I truly want to be able to give my best in service to others…but please don’t expect me to do it while I’m sick, weak, emotionally drained, or feeling not up to the task. When I’m feeling bombarded by bad news from every side, I long for God to shelter me in his loving arms. The very last thing I want is to sense God nudging me out and about into the battlefield of service. But I’ve learned something in the past several years. There are seasons of rest and everyone needs them. Then there are seasons of service when we are forced to lean in hard to receive the grace that God promises and put the full weight of our trust in Him as we seek to meet others’ needs through God’s strength and power.
In those situations where we are called upon to go beyond what we believe we are capable of doing, we are activating and strengthening our faith muscles and God is pleased. I have to honestly ask myself if I truly believe the promises God has made to supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19) not in a purely material sense but in regards to giving me the strength to serve despite my inherent weaknesses? This begs the next question then…do I trust God with the uncertainties of life? Only when I accept what God allows (the good, bad, and unexpected) and trust Him as the Blessed Controller of all things can I sleep in peace and awake with the confidence that God is and always will be my shelter in the time of storm. Because He is.

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