Last week I heard my first real no in ministry-- a literary agent I really wanted to work with said, as kindly as she could, "Thanks but no thanks." I don't know why I thought that would go differently but I did. I imagined doors would be opened because I'm doing what I feel called to do.
5 years ago I experienced so many accounts of betrayal and wounds from people who were supposed to be there, supposed to still be here. I never saw it coming. I am a people person. I will do just about anything for my friends. So to see so many close ones fall away in such a short period of time was life choking.
10 years ago I was fired for the first time. I'd never experienced this kind of rejection. Couple that with, "How in the world am I going to pay my bills?!" This shame was unlike anything I've ever known. I was supposed to be good at my job, I thought I was.
15 years ago I was put on scholastic probation at Texas A&M and had to step down from being Chaplain of my sorority, Sigma Phi Lambda. (P.S.A. to college students: going to class is really helpful if you want to make good grades.) The most humiliating thing I've ever endured. I wanted to hide. I didn't want to face it. So I didn't. I ran to the first internship I could, it was a good cover.
Sometimes things just don't go as we imagined, do they?
I'm not alone in this. For many I know these situations are nothing. Wombs still empty after having so many shots and surgeries and specialists. Bank accounts drained and houses foreclosed. Actual voids because someone has died, gone forever. Jobs lost while others depend on you. Ring fingers empty. Careers stuck. Phone silent. Joyless. Future seems bleak.
That's just the american version of struggle. Go outside these borders and the circumstances are unfathomable.
In these moments what do you do?
My senior year in high school I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that caused me to have 7 surgeries that year. I had been a Christian all of a year and there was this to navigate. I remember getting in the car from the specialists office after hearing, "I think we need to do one more surgery, we didn't get it all." The weight of that at 17 was too much to carry. I would get in the car and I would blast Ginny Owens "If You Want Me To" and sob hysterically that hour drive home in traffic. It wasn't how I imagined my senior year would go.
I questioned God. I hardly knew Him and I questioned Him.
You know what? The questions are OK.
I just finished an entire Bible study on the Psalms and it was refreshing to remind myself that questioning God is OK. We just can't let it stay there. We have to fight to get to the faith part too.
We have to be willing to see a great purpose in it all. One we may not ever understand. That's the hard part isn't it? When we can't understand His ways.
Why do some get pregnant and they don't want to yet others remain single (default infertility) or others with infertile as a diagnosis? Why do some have more money than sense yet others can't even buy food for their children? Why do some have perfect health and destroy their physical bodies yet others are murdered, abused, or ridden with cancer? Why do some get every break even though they deceptively rose to the top yet others can't break minimum wage or even get a job?
I don't know.
I hate it as much as you.
Psalm 62 gives us a prayer when we have no words:
"Truly my soul finds rest in God:... truly He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault me?... Surely they intend to topple me... they take delight in lies... Yes, my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. ... Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge... Power belongs to you God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love,..." (You can read Psalm 62 fully here.)
This time things didn't go the way I had hoped, but there is a difference in my spirit, that I didn't experienced in 5, 10, and 15 years ago: My hope isn't in my circumstances.
I guess I've lived enough years to know His ways are better, even when they don't seem like it. The better may even have nothing to do with me, the better may be for someone else. The better may be the protection from the other way, the way I thought would be better. My hope and security isn't in someone else's yes or a test being a certain way or a certain number in our bank account. My hope alone is in God. There isn't shame, there isn't what if. Not this time.
Our trust has to be in Him. Our circumstances aren't promised. Everything can change in a moment. So let's trust Him in this moment.
I'll end with this song by Lauren Daigle: "Trust in You." The lyrics are spot on for anyone in a place of struggling to trust God. If that's you, press play on this song.
Close your eyes and open your hands. Visualize your ache or your dream in your hand. Lay it before Him. Stop trying. Rest. Let Him help. He is mighty. He is there by your side. He is able to move mountains and part waters, even if He isn't. Trust. He knows. He sees. He is strong. Let Him comfort. His plans are good. So very good. He has been before you.