The other day as I was working in my kitchen, I was listening to a Christian song. The singer sang about how God had been there with her through every stage of her life. What a wonderful and true principle that should have given me comfort.
As she listed each stage of her life–childhood, adolescence, marriage, children– I felt an uncomfortable tug. Her life had followed such a “normal” course. My adolescence hadn’t been easy. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I struggled with depression as a new Christian. Then marriage at age…36! A marriage that wasn’t happy or successful, either. No children. Suddenly, I felt that, compared to the singer’s “normal” life, mine had been messy, off course. God had held out on me, hadn’t given me the same blessings. (Have you ever felt that way?)
Whoa! That’s when I caught myself. I realized (not quickly enough, apparently) that I’d been hit by an enemy dart. The dart said, “God doesn’t love you enough to give you ____.” It’s the oldest trick in the Book, but don’t we still fall prey to it? And if we’re not careful, it can lead us to envy and a downward spiral. A spiral that begins with a wrong view of God.
It goes something like this. Satan says, “See? Look what happened. That’s proof that you’re on the second row of God’s love. You can’t expect much more than that.” And as he says “see”, he is pointing to the thing you wish was either in or not in your life.
In a novel, we sometimes read about a character who believes things that aren’t true, and these lies silently direct her life. In a Christian novel, the lies might have to do with the character’s relationship with God, whether or not he or she can trust Him either with her deepest longings and/or with a difficult external problem.
Our lives are like that. We have lies from the past that subtly direct our lives. As these lies come to light, there can be healing through the cleaning out of lies, replacing them with truth.
We have internal longings, some of them unmet. Prayers that have gone “unanswered” for years. External problems we can’t seem to solve. But to eyes of faith, these are opportunities to grow our trust muscles. Like the characters in the books we read, we resist and kick against the challenges. Then we start to understand the persistent love of God. The timing of God. The big picture of God’s plan. Often in retrospect, we see the way things turned out and our faith grows. We realize the enemy is a defeated, chained, and pathetic foe. All he can do is accuse us or accuse God to us.
Back to the song I heard . . . the principle the singer sang about was true for me, too. God had been with her through every step of her “normal” life. And he was with me through every step of mine. Through my parents’ divorce, I became a Christian as I sought answers. During the years I might have been raising a family, he instead sent me to the mission field for a while. Living overseas was a treasure I wouldn’t trade. And there was blessing . . . hand-crafted, unique-for-me blessing, all along the way.
Our stories are not the same. Some stories are “normal” (whatever that means!) Some are more difficult. And all are woven through with sunshine and tears in different seasons. The only constant in our lives is his compassionate, seeking, persistent love for us.
“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what a joy for those who trust in you.” Psa. 84:11-12.