The calendar page is barely turned, and already it seems this is shaping up to be a hard year for a lot of people. In the last few days, we have had friends experience the death of a loved one, the loss of a beloved pet, terrible illness and hospitalization, health scares, worry about finances and losing their home and many other difficult circumstances. Our family prayer time has grown longer each night as we try to cover all those we love in prayer, asking God’s mercies and comfort on each of them.
Quite honestly, this time of year is one I often face with dread. Although I tend much more toward the optimistic side and rarely feel truly depressed, the months between January and March are ones that can be a struggle for me. It seems that most of the really hard things that have happened in my life have fallen in or around these months. There have been loved ones lost, injuries and illness experienced, and disappointments faced. My first experience with death (the loss of my beloved grandfather during my high school years) happened in March. My adored grandmother died two years ago this month. We lost my husband’s little brother to a brain tumor at age 21 in January six years ago. Two years ago, in the midst of losing my grandmother and deciding to move our family to Kansas, I fell and broke my tailbone…twice in two weeks. Even my much-loved dog was put to sleep in January many years ago. I think you get the picture. On top of all this, I was made for tropical climates. I put on layers starting about October and don’t thaw out until June. I despise cold weather and live for those sunny Colorado days we are blessed with in the midst of winter.
So, now that I’ve depressed you, where am I going with this? First, let me tell you a story, shared by our minister a few months ago. It is about a little boy, anxiously anticipating a day of fishing with his father, only to wake that morning to a terrible rainstorm. While his father tried to explain to the boy how desperately they needed this rain, and that there would be other days to fish, the boy grumbled and complained throughout the day. Later that afternoon, the sun broke through and the rain ceased. There was still plenty of time to fish, so the boy and his father headed out to the stream. After the rain, the fish were biting unusually well and they came home with a huge string of fish. When the boy offered the prayer at supper that evening, he told God, “I’m sorry if I sounded grumpy earlier today…I just couldn’t see far enough ahead.”
I loved that story when I heard it…how profound. If he had known the rain would cease, he would have enjoyed the day instead of grumbling. How often do we spend our days complaining, only because we can’t see far enough ahead? If I had known that God would heal my mom’s cancer, would I have spent so much time grieving and worrying and being angry? If I had known we wouldn’t end up moving to Kansas after all, would I have wasted so much time being miserable? If I had known that homeschooling would dramatically change our family for the better, would it have been such a difficult decision to start?
Ah, the famous what-ifs. We can never see what lies ahead, but we do have an advantage. We serve the God who knows every what-if, who sees every moment of our future. He has carefully planned our lives and knows exactly what lies ahead, and gives us exactly what we need in order to endure every trial that comes our way. He promises that at the end of that road lies the end to all suffering, the reward for all our seeking after Him. He knows exactly how each moment of suffering refines our character to be more like His. And even better…He loves us with an unfailing love and wants only the best for our lives. If we can cling to these promises, we can face the future with the confidence of the psalmist who penned “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7) So, if, like me, you are having a “grumpy” spell, rest easy. After all, GOD can see “far enough ahead”, even if we can’t.
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