The Gift of Trouble

It has been a challenging year for us. We've "enjoyed" the expected number of normal-for-this-stage struggles (ageing, frail, and ill parents; struggling teens; our own creaky bodies) and some you hope never to run into (our oldest son's estrangement, diabetes), plus at least one the average person probably doesn't expect to encounter once in a lifetime, let alone twice (you'll just have to trust me on this one for now).

I don't know about you, but distractions and trouble both rob me of sleep and make me ruminative. I know some folks for whom the appearance of capital-T Trouble on the scene chases Meaning right over the horizon, and I feel for them. Facing obstacles is hard enough if you KNOW that there's a divine reason for it all.


Me? When Trouble shows up, I tend to find Meaning hanging out on every corner, pinching fruit in the produce aisle, stealing the covers along about 3:30 a.m.

But sometimes Meaning stands up and waves. Like today, when I read this essay. (Our friend Don shares the best stuff on Facebook, and it was his gift to us today.)

Reading a probably terminally ill Harvard Law professor's thoughts on suffering put a bow on something a difficult year has given me. Starkly stated, it's this: 

God doesn’t usually remove life’s curses.
But He does consistently do amazing things with them.

Though there are all kinds of little rituals and "magic spells" that (I believe misguided) folks offer on how to get what I want from God, the professor and I agree on THIS as Truth

He CAN remove the troubles, 
and SOMETIMES He does. 
MOSTLY, He redeems the bad bits.

There was a Beth Moore study a while back that set me up to develop my infant belief that God always delivers us. Contrary to the "send money and get delivered" deals, God's idea of deliverance can look a number of ways:

  • He may choose to deliver us FROM something (we never experience it), 
  • THROUGH something (He gets us through it), or 
  • BY something (He uses the circumstance to deliver us Home).
It's on this middle thing that I'm camping right now (though I bow to the current possibility and definite eventuality of the last one, of course). 

More often than not, I think, God chooses not to chop down that lemon tree or turn it into one bearing prize-winning cherries. 

Mostly it seems that's He's decided (in advance) to dig through His divine recipe book for dishes to best use all that lemon juice and zest He knows is coming my way. Plainly said, He shows up in the circumstance and brings His glory into whatever ails me instead of preventing it.


And I'm good with that. I believe He has redeemed the worst things in my life to yield the best and most permanent things: peace, contentment, and a sense that there's a lot more going on here and that--hallelujah--God's in control of it all. 

While I can't always see this truth first thing, I guess you could say I pray (or cry) my way into seeing it because it's what I truly believe. 

What I get isn't always what I wanted, 
but I always (in the end) want 
what He's going to DO 
with whatever I get. 


This realization is slowly changing my outlook. I believe I'm in Christ, hidden with Him in God. If I truly believe this, then at some point, I have to admit that whatever the challenge is, it went through BOTH of Them before it got to me. 

And therefore, I believe there are no accidents, but only experiences with a Divine purpose.  

As a New Year's gift, I'll pass along another gift from Don, a quote he posted in October and which now adorns my fridge, along with all the sketches, awards, and college acceptance letters that remind us of the direction our lives are going.




(Click the quote to get the word art that adorns my fridge.)


I am eternally grateful for my Divine Curriculum Plan. Aren't you?

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