Winter is trying its best to sneak into our sheltered little valley. Baby, it is definitely cold out there! I suppose, as it is starting to get a little closer to Christmas, that colder temperatures and, yes, even a little snow, will be welcomed; especially Christmas snow and all of the wonder we associate with the rarity of it! My roomie and I have both been in a cheery Christmassy mood since before Thanksgiving. Getting to spend an early Christmas with three special children warmed up the heart and helped that along even more! Be that as it may, warm heart and all…it has been cold and my fingers and toes will NOT get warm!!
I have had to laugh at myself over the past couple of weeks. First, I added my warm winter throw to my bed on top of my quilted comforter. Then I added another blanket. So now, I am sleeping under the sheet, my warm, fuzzy throw, an extra blanket and my quilted comforter. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the heating pad down at foot level! The laughing at me part came when, with the weight of all of that, it caused me to barely be able to turn over! Another by-product of the winterized bedding was that it reminded me of being at my grandparents house when I was young. Going there to spend the night was quite an adventure, and I got to experience that often as a child.
Spending the night there, for me, meant sleeping in the back, middle bedroom, right behind the living/family/great room…in other words, close to everything going on. The bed was an old, metal bed frame covered with a ton of colorful, handmade quilts! Getting “put to bed” there meant snuggling in and having all those substantial quilts folded over and tucked in and around you. The weight of the quilts, some of them made with pieces of old denim and some from feed sacks, kept you pushed down into the mattress. Moving, once you were tucked in, was nearly an impossibility. There was such a sense of security all nestled into that warm, snug bed. It was like there could never be any issues or problems that a kiss from mamaw would not fix.
Although, some problems can’t be fixed that easily. A close friend was experiencing a sharp sense of disappointment this week. It was one of those deep, painful disappointments that come after years and years of attempting to have faith and believing and moving forward with confidence. There were years of hopes and prayers invested. There were years of prayers invested by this person and by myself. I prayed so hard for this situation to be resolved in their favor; and prayed so hard that the faith I had been coercing and urging for them to experience and believe would culminate into a flame that would ultimately be rewarded.
As we all know, sometimes the answer to our prayers is, “No.”
Hearing the definitive, “No.” from God this week shook me. I believe it shook me more than the other person. I felt so sad for the hope that I had caused to grow to be denied. The realization of the situation was not even the biggest disappointment for me. I think the disappointment was that I have tried so hard throughout the years, and years, and years…and years…to convince them to have that faith, to continue believing and to hope for the best; and that they had begun to do just that. The situation itself is not really that important in the whole scheme of life and eternity; but that faith — that was what I was worried about. I didn’t want their faith to be broken. I didn’t want their belief to be broken. I didn’t want my God to look uncaring. I think that is the gist of it. I love my God so, that I didn’t want Him to be thought of badly.
When I was holding the envelope containing the resolution we had been waiting for, before it was opened, I reminded them, “We determined that no matter how the situation turns out, we would still praise Him for the things He has done for us, and we will do that no matter what is inside this envelope.” I said those words calmly. I said them confidently. I meant them. I just didn’t know how much that the word “no” would affect me. It pierced swiftly and deeply and it hurt. On the outside, while I was in their presence, I was accepting and trying to be thankful, while inside my heart, truthfully, was a little broken. I am quite a spoiled princess and my Father does not give me a lot of “no” answers.
Later, when I was alone, I cried. The tears flowed and would not stop. I was not even crying for me. I was crying for them. I didn’t know how I would face this situation with them and still have the same face. My heart was heavy and I was not sure that the Christmas cheer I had been so enjoying would endure.
Having already had the reminder of being at mamaw and papaw’s and being tucked into that snug, warm bed with mamaw’s kisses making all things right, I decided the best thing to do was to just climb into my heavily armed, warm, snuggly bed. Now, that could have gone either way. I could have pulled those covers up over my head and continued the “cry.” Instead, I pulled those covers up and grabbed my Bible and my journal. I searched for God’s promises for the situations that we can’t fathom. I talked to God about it and through the tears I did ask why. I also did find comfort and I did find peace in the answers that He gave me through the promises of His Word. I don’t think that God minds when we ask that question, “Why?” I don’t think He minds when some situations are more difficult for us to wrap our minds, and hearts, around. And I certainly hope that he does not mind that we cry in His presence! We are, after all, human and we are in the here and now. Our feelings and emotions are also in the here and now and not easy to distance ourselves from. We have absolutely no way to see the big picture-plan that God has for our lives. We tend to want what we want…when we want it. Even the strongest person of faith most likely does not like the word, “no.” God’s Word does tell us, though, that “all things work together for good…” That does not mean that the current situation you find yourself in is good, or will ever be good according to worldly knowledge or understanding. What it does mean is that God can use that situation to cause good, possibly, most likely, for someone else.
So, yes, yesterday, I sort of ran away from that person. I didn’t want them to see my deep hurt. I didn’t want to see their deep hurt. But today, a cold, crisp, clear new day, when I saw them, they were fine. They even told me that they had felt bad for me. I asked why. They said because they had figured out that I knew before they knew, and they realized that it had hurt me. I explained that my hurt was for them; but they already knew that. In that moment, their hurt was for me.
What I saw, concerning that thing I was so worried about, was that their faith was still intact. They were not mad at God and they still had the confidence that things work out as they should, even when we do not understand. I could see that the faith I had so been praying for them, was indeed stronger than this situation. I also believe it is strong enough to carry them through anything that might come at them in the future.
So, do I look down the road for the next little while and see that my questions will go away and my slightly broken heart will mend quickly? No, I don’t. I still have that big, “Why?” in my heart. I still have that bruise to my emotions, but I am assuredly and confidently positive that it will heal and that it will be replaced with something deeper and richer. Even more than anything having to do with my emotions or my faith, I see God working in this person’s life to grow their faith and strength them in their walk with Him.
So, yes, tonight I will snuggle down in that bed with the multiple blankets (and the heating pad) because my fingers and toes are freezing as I sit here and write this! But tonight also, I will snuggle down with a more content heart than last night knowing that God has had this all along. I suppose I can reference back to the broken bone thing that we discussed at church recently. That thing being; when a bone is broken, and heals, it is stronger than it was before.
I am counting on that for broken hearts too!
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)