It is rare to find a person who praises God when they don’t get something they are asking for, and maybe even more rare to find a person who praises God when they get the opposite.
I often have a hard time believing God is for me no matter the circumstances.
It is easier to believe that He is out to get me, or that He has forgotten about me all together. It is a victim mentality.
I had a moment like this earlier this year. Ally and I had just gotten married and moved to Florida, far away from her family in Oregon. It was a long move and a difficult transition. One day she confided in me that she would really regret if anything happened to her dad while we were living so far away. She even uttered the words, “heart attack.”
As a husband, my first instinct was to calm her anxiety.
Yes, it’s difficult to move far away from family, but a heart attack was out of the question. Her dad was healthy. Her fear was unwarranted. Nothing like that was going to happen to her family.
So it came as a major surprise when Ally called me at work a couple weeks later, hardly able to breathe as she tried to explain what had happened.
“My sister… (GASP)… just called… (GASP)… my dad… (GASP)… (LONG PAUSE).. had a heart attack.”
It felt like a cruel joke. This had been her biggest fear, and it had come true. This is one of those moments when you want to become resentful of God, that he would subject you to something like this. But God was inviting Ally and I into something. Something far more beautiful than understanding.
He was inviting us to trust.
For the first time in my life I felt the Lord calling me to praise Him in the midst of trail. I was afraid to bring it up as we were driving home from my office that day. I felt like it would come across as really insensitive, but I just couldn’t shake it. God was speaking something to me, and I needed to share it with Ally.
I looked over at her, and said, “Lets praise God in the midst of this situation. He is in control, and I believe He is for us even though we don’t understand right now.”
I am not even sure I believed what I was saying it as I said it, but something about it felt right.
In Matthew 8 Jesus is on a boat with his disciples in the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a storm comes and shakes the boat so violently that waves come over the side. The disciples are freaking out, and Jesus is taking a nap at the bottom of the boat. The disciples come and wake Jesus up, begging him to save them. Jesus gets up, calms the storm and asks the disciples why they had no faith.
I have heard this passage taught at church my whole life, and it went something like this:
Life is full of storms, if you just ask Jesus to calm your storm He will. Why wouldn’t he after all? He is our personal savior, saving us from all of life’s problems.
But if this is our theology, when dads have heart attacks and we lose our jobs and people die in car accidents, we wonder what happened to our personal savior. It would have been really easy to feel like this with Steve in the hospital. We were in the midst of a storm. Why wasn’t Jesus calming it?
I think something is missing from the teaching of this passage I’ve always heard:
Jesus didn’t just rebuke the waves, and calm them. He also rebuked the lack of faith in His disciples.
I often wonder if what Jesus wanted was for his disciples to come to the bottom of the boat, curl up, and take a nap with him. Then, he wouldn’t have needed to calm the storm.
I think Jesus wanted the disciples to trust in the midst of the storm, not after the storm. And I think he wants the same from us today in the face of heart-attacks and the unknown of every day life.
He is inviting us to trust Him in the midst of all the storms of life. He has us. He is for our good, even when the waves are crashing over the side of the boat and we don’t understand.
We are all Prodigals and there is a good father waiting for our hearts to come back home.
Do you believe that?
[photo: Lorenzo Sernicola, Creative Commons]