There has been a reoccurring pattern in the life of my family that goes something like this: Dan and I prayerfully make decisions and plans and then watch as God totally changes them. To some extent, this is true of everyone, but in the past year or so for our family it has seemed kind of extreme. Housing. Jobs. Babies. Not to mention the little things in life.
I haven’t been handling our “temporary” housing situation very well lately (I put temporary in quotes because that is another one of our plans). Maybe it really is a difficult situation, or maybe it’s just that there have been a lot of difficult situations and I’m getting burnt out. I’m not sure.
One of the agreements to our living in this basement (in the home of a family from our church) is that every Tuesday our church hosts a Bible study. Here. In our little “temporary” home. Combined with the Bible study we normally attend on Wednesdays this makes for two very late nights in a row.
Well, this week the Bible study turned out to be a very good thing. Between conversation and prayer, I was reminded (for the millionth time and I know I’ll need it again) to rejoice.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
So it was as the clock approached 11, the last stragglers were about to leave, and the girls were very sleepy. I was encouraged and had a new resolve to rejoice and trust that this crazy, windy road God is taking us on is not without purpose. And then, as if to test my new resolve, Lydia threw up. I had given her a couple of slices of a summer sausage during snack time and, as we don’t normally eat pork or sausage, the combination didn’t treat her very well.
We said hurried goodbyes and I cleaned up the floor while Dan cleaned up Lydia. I’d say we handled the episode relatively well and soon enough Lydia was tucked in watching an inning of baseball with Dan while she fell asleep. I set out a (literally) midnight snack for Dan and I to enjoy together so we could actually have a few moments to talk before going to sleep. Just as I was about to take my first bite, Lydia threw up again.
Well, we made it out ok. I was still rejoicing and lighthearted despite the surprise attack by that summer sausage and we finally got to go to sleep. Dan was up at least once more with Lydia during the night but I didn’t know that until morning because a couple of hours after resting my head on the pillow I found myself running to the bathroom wishing I hadn’t eaten that sausage either.
It was bad. The sort of bad where you spend an hour in the bathroom just praying your stomach would surrender and empty itself so you could go to bed in peace. But, do you know what? By God grace I kept rejoicing.
I think if you could have been there (I’m glad you weren’t) to see me and hear my thoughts, it might have been almost funny. I was sick and in pain and tired and completely convinced that God loves me and is going to use this all for good. I may have even been smiling there in the bathroom at two in the morning. It was crazy. Knowing trials have a purpose, even if you don’t know what the purpose is, makes them so much more bearable.
The next day we were well enough to eat some breakfast, at least a rather bland breakfast of plain oatmeal, bananas, and tea. By Wednesday night we were all well enough to go to our own Bible study. And so far I’m still doing well in my new resolve. I know this is a lesson I’ll have to learn again. And you’ll probably hear about it when I do. For now I will keep on rejoicing, trusting God’s good plan, and staying away from summer sausage.