Have you ever thought a sermon totally didn’t apply to you, but then all of the sudden, WHAM, you remember something you were thinking like a week ago? Yeah, that happened to me this past Sunday…and I was a little embarrassed when I thought of the context in which I was ‘judging the Judge.’
The week before Christmas, my two daughters caught a nasty cold. It lingered, and a few days later my husband caught it as well. I was completely sure that I would inevitably catch this cold. And I was angry about. Angry about how sick I was going to be (with this cold that I hadn’t yet caught). It was Christmas, for crying out loud. I could just picture myself on the 25th, with watery eyes, sneezing and coughing uncontrollably, trying to nurse and care for my seven-month-old, while also disciplining my rammy two-year-old.
As I waited for my self-fulfilling prophecy to come true, I realized that my anger was not just towards the situation, but actually more towards God. He controls all things, right? So couldn’t He control this cold hitting my family at Christmas? Couldn’t He have kept us healthy at least until the day after the holidays?
As the days went by, I kept not getting sick. I expected to wake up with instant strep throat, but every morning as I opened my eyes, I felt fine. As Christmas Day approached, I felt torn. Was God being gracious to me, the mommy who carries so much weight for the family? Was He sparing me and caring for me, knowing I couldn’t handle being sick myself while trying to care for my sick family? Or was He just cruelly waiting until the very last second to slam me on Christmas morning?
I know this all sounds a little ridiculous, but I’m not exaggerating these thoughts. I really had them! I even told my husband about this struggle. My thoughts were honestly dominated by wondering about my fate: would I be sick or not sick? ‘Is God being extra kind and good in sparing me, or is He being completely mean and malicious?’ I thought. As you can imagine, I felt far from God during worship time on the Sunday before Christmas and on Christmas Eve. I was waiting for Him to prove Himself before I’d say anything good about Him.
Well, after all of this internal struggle, I ended up not getting sick. You would think I was settled in my mind, then: God is extremely kind and gracious, giving us what we don’t deserve and not giving us what we do deserve. Nope. Not me. I actually forgot about it. As each day passed without sneezing, the struggle faded more in my mind. I’m not even sure if I ever even said, “Thanks, God, that I didn’t get sick.” My lack of sickness didn’t actually prove God’s goodness in my mind. I felt okay to open my heart to Him again, but not cemented in my belief in His care.
So in the end of the sermon last Sunday, when I heard these lines: ‘I’ll follow God when He makes it more clear,’ ‘I can’t follow God until I have it all figured out,’ and ‘I’ve found a loophole about Him,’ I saw myself the week before Christmas. Delaying my declared love for God until I figured it out and saw the end of my story. I was willing to be thankful and have an open heart to God IF I didn’t get sick, IF He proved, yet again, that He was good.
The answer that Jesus gave to the third ‘test’ in Matthew 22 really stood out to me. The religious leaders asked Him which was the Greatest Commandment, and He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” You know what Jesus, with that answer, says to me? He says, “Guess what? I might not choose to prove Myself in every situation. Every situation is not a fresh test of My goodness. There may be times when you can’t outright see My goodness and care. But I still demand your love, Sarah. I still call you to worship Me as good, to declare My faithfulness and care for you, even when you can’t see it. Enough with the tests! Enough with the having to prove Myself over and over and over again. Love Me with all you’ve got…and loving Me includes every day stuff! Even when you might have simple cold. Love me there. One way it’ll look is believing and declaring that I’m good in any situation you encounter. You don’t have to wait for me to prove Myself again.”
So I’m taking this and running Maybe you’ll join me, too. So whether in sickness or in health, let’s love the Lord our God…who is good in every situation. Whether we see it or not.
Blog entry by: Sarah Howard