Being a week behind in life, what was to be our official starting week of school has been pushed to next week. It was great being able to go to Ikea and finish off the last-minute things needed to complete our new and improved school room for this year! (More on that another day…)
Last night I ran into staples to bind my custom-created yearly planner. I printed all the calendar and lesson pages (to be filled in as the year goes on) and had them bind it. It was perfect… until it was backwards. Thankfully she was able to trim the hole punches off the right hand side and re-bind it on the left. It was then that I was struck with the need to buy paper-clips. In the paperclip aisle I stared at the one row: completely sold out. Twenty-five cents for a hundred paper clips. What a steal! There was no way I was going to spend one or two dollars now. Unfortunately, every other person in Chester County must have needed paperclips this week, too. I am still a bit irritated. We literally have no paper clips, and the people who bought them probably only bought them because they were a quarter.
Being in need of something brings out the best and worst in us. We can either think nasty thoughts of everyone else around us who has what we wish we had. Or, we can experience God’s strength to power through the intense hunger or need or want we may have.
I have a friend who is going through some intense need. Four kids, no car, mold in their house so they can’t even be there… completely relying on others to be the hands and feet of Christ. Completely dependent on what others have to get them where they need to go and give them a roof over their heads. I know the desire is there to give up and wish those hard things away. In our recent stay in the hospital we were also completely at the end of our own strength and ability to do life as we normally know it. The same friend stayed up all night that first night and prayed with me through texts, as she held my hand from afar and kept me from feeling alone. That is why I know her faith is stronger than circumstances. Our faith has to be more than skin deep. When we feel the initial pain of disappointment, annoyance, or unknown, how do we react? Do we wish it all away, or do we look up and wait in expectation for how God will work out the puzzle in which we find ourselves?
When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt, God received glory. … He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known. He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. The waters covered their enemies; there was not one of them left. Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. In three verses, a miracle of unimaginable magnitude occurred. The sea dried up and their problems were literally washed away. I felt a lot like this the past few weeks. Things that seemed impossible have happened. God’s presence was tangibly felt through each sleepless night and raspy breath. He literally rescued us from death. Yet the next verses in Psalm 106 are a stark warning.
They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
When we forget what God has done for us, we start walking in our own strength and become very discontent. Over and over, the Bible tells us to remember, remember, remember. Set up a rock and call it Ebenezer: this far the Lord has helped us. Write it on your forehead. Mark it on your calendar and celebrate! Break the bread and drink the wine. Don’t forget. Never ever forget. Because when we forget, we start to want what is around us. We wish away the desert and everything hard. We don’t realize it, but by our forgetfulness and discontent we are never going to experience the way God wants to reveal Himself to us. When we ask for plenty, we may be given our request, but sometimes it comes at a pretty high price.
I’ve thought long and hard about the past few weeks. Would I trade the weeks in the wilderness for something a bit easier? Maybe no sickness, no money problems, no pain? It is tempting. Yet the moment I turn my eyes towards what is easy, I sense my focus shifting towards my own strength and not the Lord’s. My soul becomes hungry and wastes away when it is not relying solely on the Lord for every meal, every need, literally every breath. I don’t want to forget. I fear forgetting. That is one reason I must write: I must declare out-loud what great things the Lord has done for us!
So whether it is food, mounting bills, a vehicle or paperclips… if we have need, He will provide. May our souls never become sick because we rush ahead of what God is about to do. It is incredible both to experience God’s provision and also to be the hands and feet of Christ in practical ways.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort… We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)