One might naturally suppose that when a teenage girl takes herself to town to go shopping, she would likely come home with something cute, like a shirt. At least, that’s what I expected. But my elder daughter, Andi? Nothing so mundane. She came home with a Boa Constrictor.
Only spiders give me the willies, and snakes aren’t really slimy, but my first choice would not be to share my home with one. But there it was, along with a big glass tank and a live mouse for its dinner. We already had or used to have multiple happy animals -- dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, guinea pigs and a hermit crab – but in this case I really did not favor the idea of either the mouse or Fluffy (she had already named him!) escaping from the tank. After many assurances from my daughter that this would not occur and, I’m sure, also silently from the snake, as regarded the mouse, Fluffy became part of the family.
We don’t always get what we want, or even what we think we need. And we’re often not very appreciative of what God does provide for us. We think He doesn’t understand, or doesn’t hear us. And we think we know best what would solve whatever problem it is we’re facing. We beg and we beg.
I’ve done some begging.
A few years ago my son Denny was going to sell his payroll business, and he hired a reputable (he thought) broker to line up a buyer. He became connected with a small group of investors who seemed legitimate, but they weren’t. They stole $1.8 million from his tax accounts and when my son found the money missing and contacted the IRS they ran back to the hole they had climbed out of and left him holding the bag. In the middle of all this my son’s excellent lawyer suddenly died from a heart attack! The prosecutor went after everyone. One of the so-called investors was sentenced to years in prison, but the judge decided that since my son was the owner of record she had to “sentence him to something,” and gave him 18 months in federal prison, which turned out to be in Ohio. He had stolen nothing.
I begged God to change it all. I could not understand why He had allowed such a miscarriage to happen. One thing after another went wrong. Unbelievably, his second lawyer died from a heart attack! And because U.S. Marshalls picked my son up to take him to a hearing in New Jersey without properly notifying some clerk his record was changed to say that he had attempted to escape from a maximum security prison (he’d never been in one). It was never corrected, and after he was returned from the hearing he was housed in solitary confinement for months and months and months! He had been a Christian since he was 14; do you think his faith was tested? You can bet it was! Do you think mine was? I wept. I begged. But I wrote and wrote and assured my son over and over and over that God loved him and was with him every minute, and prayed that it was true. We both hung on by a thread.
But you know what? God was working on him, and for him, the whole time. My son did not grow up on the street, and he knows that he would not have survived in the general population of federal prison. It’s a different world in there. He wouldn’t have known how. Isolation, moving from cell to cell every couple of weeks, was terrible, but we realize that God was protecting him the whole time. There were things God wanted to change in him, and He did. My son came out of that experience with greater maturity, with much deeper faith, owning his faults and mistakes and never doubting that God had been leading him. Denny has often told me that he feels that God knew that it would take 20 years to get him from point A to point B, but instead He took Denny on the intensive, accelerated trip in 18 months. And he is grateful every day. God used that dark time to accomplish things in him that my son might never have allowed if he had not been where he was. He was changed. And as for me, if I ever doubted God, I never will again.
Life is not just funny stories. Some periods are indescribably painful, with no sign of a bright light ahead. But God is there. And God is good. God is always good. And He loves us with an everlasting love.
If you are going through a dark time, large or small, hang in there. Pray for wisdom. Pray for peace in your spirit. Pray for trust. When there is no understanding, there is only trust. God is so completely, totally trustworthy. He will see you through.