His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts,
(Isaiah 55:9 NIV).
If it were up to me, I would have written some stories differently. I would have a little girl who would be twenty-one years old this year. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s twenty-year-old daughter would not be a quadriplegic because of a car crash at a tollbooth when she was a toddler. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s twenty-one-year-old daughter would not have died in a car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have died of a brain tumor. If I had been writing the story.
But I’m so glad I’m not the author of those stories. Each and every one of these friends have ministries that impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world. God has turned their pain into purpose, the misery into ministry, and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of these women’s lives. Their love journeys of living and moving and having their being in Christ have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side. They practically glow with radiant wonder.
Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts. One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving—a continual acknowledgement of His presence.
Glory moments in difficult times are not dependent on our circumstances, but on our focus. Focus on the difficulty and God is difficult to see. Focus on God and glory seeps through the broken places. Difficulties become the bass notes of our life’s song, adding a depth and beauty not found in a life that hovers about middle C.
I hope you read my last devotion…part one of this story. If not, you might want to go back and catch up.
Steve and I were terribly disappointed when we felt stranded in a new city with no job and no income. However, after the doctor changed his mind about Steve joining his practice, we never went hungry. I worked six days a week in various dental offices, and Steve filled in where he could. Then three months later, a situation opened up in a very desirable part of town with one of the city’s most respected doctors.
Steve was offered a wonderful situation in which to begin his career. If we had written out the best-case scenario ourselves, it would not have come close to what God provided. It was Ephesians 3:20 in lab-coat white: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
After a few years, the part of town in which we originally planned to set up Steve’s practice became a rundown thoroughfare, and that doctor faded away. However, Steve’s practice continued to grow and grow and grow, until we had to move out on our own to expand. We experienced God’s provision and protection through the twists and turns of uncertainty.
Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? [tweetherder]He could have. But He is far more interested in developing our character than doling out a life of comfort and ease[/tweetherder]. C. S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. [tweetherder]Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives[/tweetherder]. And those miracles are a sudden glory.
A year later, I sat thanking God for His provision, and I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed that I had doubted God. Ashamed that I had fussed at Him. Ashamed that I had thrown a temper tantrum when I didn’t get what I wanted when I wanted it…and I’m so glad I didn’t.
“I’m so sorry God,” I prayed. “Please forgive me.”
That’s O.K, He seemed to say. Happens all the time. Now, I want this to be a lesson for you. You’ve got to trust me.
Someone once said, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, the dark places are simply opportunities to trust that He knows the way—and the perfect time to hold on tight.
Lord, I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t like how the story of my life is going. There are some chapters I would love to go back and edit. But the reality is, You use it all. Even fairy tales have villains, darks forests, and big bad wolves. But I know, oh I know, how my story ends. “And she lived happily in the hereafter with the Prince of Peace.” I thank You for the storyline that gets me there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What do You Think?
Can you think of a time when it looked like the earth fell out from beneath your feet, and later you realized it was all in God’s perfect plan for your better good?
What did Joseph say to his brothers who sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead? Check it out at Genesis 50:19-23.
What does that tell you about Joseph’s perspective on the bad things that happened in his life?
If you’re willing to trust God in the confusion, leave a comment that says, “I’m trusting God!”
Today’s devotion was taken from my newest book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More. Disappointments are chock full of miracle moments…or at least they can be. If you need to have your eyes open to glory moments where God makes His presence known, then this book will help open your eyes to see Him, your ears to hear Him, and your heart to experience His love… even in life’s most disappointing times. And if you need a boost trusting God during those dark times, see our Girlfriends in God devotion book, Trusting God – a 12-week devotional that will strengthen your faith.