What do you do when life doesn't turn out as expected? Encouragement for Christians who may have taken their eyes off their Savior to stare at the storm

God marks across some of our days: “Will explain later”

[Author note: This post was originally published in 2014. Although it ends with a resolve to trust, this wasn’t the end of my darkness. I continued to spiral down and lost my voice. I didn’t write again for six months.

When God began to lift me from the pit I had stumbled into, the first thing He did was restore my voice. One year after the accident, I was writing again.

This post has since been updated with this ONE change: I added links to other posts written later, as evidence of how God did use my pain for His glory and my good.

For a full listing of posts categorized “When Heart & Flash Fail,” click here

In one second, everything changed.

It had been a difficult year.
I had endured, seeking to be obedient and serve God’s purposes in that season of life.
But the time came when He had made a way of escape.

I turned that calendar page one glorious Friday in early May.
It felt like I had skipped spring and gone straight from a prolonged season of winter into the sun-kissed days of summer.
I had so much to do and so many new things on the horizon.

I spent the next week preparing for a weekend that was the culmination of three years of sacrifice.
I watched God smile on my family and my heart was more full than I could remember it being in a long time.

My husband kissed me goodbye a couple of days later and told me not to make any plans for the weekend when he returned, as we were going to “play” for the first time in a long time.
I practically danced around the house, finding joy in the mundane chores and running errands.

 

A Reversal of Seasons

Before the clock struck midnight that night, I was in an ambulance headed to the emergency room.
I had fallen down the stairs and broken my ankle.
It was so badly dislocated that the responders didn’t know how to stabilize it.
The ER doctor said it was the worst he had seen.
The orthopedic surgeon said I had “blown it up.”

That night in the hospital, my response was one of faithful resolve.
I even said with a smile the classic, “Well, maybe God just wanted to slow me down.”
I was so proud of my ability to trust Him and put things into perspective that He was in control and it would be ok.

Surgery came late the next day and I woke up from the anesthesia with a reaction to the medication that induced a panic attack like nothing I have never known was possible.
Had it not been for a very attentive nurse, I might have had a heart attack from the intensity.

From there I progressed into a night of terror-filled pain, with the charge nurse contacting the doctor multiple times to change the medication until it was the strongest they could give, interleaved with morphine.
Nothing worked.

As I lay there writhing and gripping the rails of the bed, knowing there was nothing else they could give me, I felt my resolve slowly leak away through my tears.

The days at home included more panic attacks and mind-altering reactions from the strong medication.
I rarely slept for more than a half-hour at a time, so there was plenty of opportunity to be aware of the all-consuming pain, and be completely conscious of all that had been stripped away.

My accident had turned the table on our future plans and now finances, a new job for me, and even a place to live were all uncertain.

Spring had turned back into winter.
The “promised land” was only a mirage in the wilderness.
I was left waiting yet again.

And there was nothing ~ NOTHING ~ I could do about it.
I couldn’t even take a shower by myself.


Embracing the Journey? You have got to be kidding me!

For years now, my theme has been “Embracing the Journey.”
In the middle of the pain and helplessness and uncertain future, my husband tried to remind me of that.

I think I threw something at him. I didn’t want to hear it.

I wish I could tell you that I quickly returned to a place of faithful resolve.
That would be lovely.
But I need to tell you the truth.

I need to tell you how, like Peter, I took my eyes off the Savior and only saw the storm.
Someone, somewhere needs to hear the nitty gritty story of how my faith faltered – the almost-40-year-old faith that belonged to a Bible teacher and prayer warrior.

Why? Because it proves there is nothing about where I am now that can be attributed to me.
All glory goes to God.
He sustained me when I didn’t even believe He cared.
He rescued me at the same moment I was blaming Him for making me drown.

As of this writing (June 2014), I have not recovered physically.
There is little change in what I can control or do.
And I still have no idea why I had to experience this.

The only difference is that God drew my face toward heaven, cradled in His loving hands, and in essence said, “Look at me. Keep your eyes on me. Stop staring at the storm.”

And here is the most important reason for telling you this: He will do the same for you, despite whatever faltering or doubting or drowning you have done.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself.”
(2 Timothy 2:13)

“Will Explain Later” — signed, God

I am not at the point that I can declare I would go through it again. I may never get there.
But with each passing day, my Savior gets more of my attention than my situation.

And as I placed more of my attention on Him, I saw a new quote this week that leaped off the page:
“God marks across some of our days: ‘Will explain later.’” (Vance Havner)

Yep. If I never understand the reason, I can — I will — trust His promise that He is working all things together for my good and for His glory.

Changing the Question

The same husband who got pelted for reminding me to “Embrace the Journey” is the same faithful man who looked at me the other day and said, “Christi, what if this has nothing to do with you – or us?  What if this is about who God will touch with it?”

This time, his timing was better and he got my attention, not my crutch.

In essence, he helped me to redefine the question.
Instead of asking “Why did this happen to me?” – I am now asking, “How can I offer my brokenness to God for His  glory?”
How can I put 2 Corinthians 12:9 into practice in my life: “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

The first answer has been to write.
Write about my faithlessness and God’s faithfulness.
Write about the compassion shown to me by His servants and how to minister to someone fighting their way through the trial.

Talk about pain and the valley of deep darkness.
Declare the life-sustaining power of prayer and the need for brothers and sisters to not only pray, but let each other know they are praying – and even hear their prayers at times.

Write about what to do in the waiting.
Recite the truth of Scripture that offers a rock to stand on when all else is crumbling around you.
Talk about how God took me from a place of “My heart and flesh are failing” to “It is well with my soul.
Well, sometimes.
And if I falter again, well, write about that.

And in doing so, I might just come to see that I am exactly where I need to be, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
But if I don’t, God will explain later.

 

P.S. Are you my email friend?

If you’re reading this, it’s quite possible you need encouragement. I have something that might help: my Scripture mini-guide, 6 Cries of the Heart. It comes with a link to a companion set of praise song playlists. It’s free for my email friends. Life is hard. Don’t do it alone.

 

Encouraging You as You Inspire others,

Christi
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For other posts categorized “When Heart & Flash Fail,” click here.

ChristiGod marks across some of our days: “Will explain later”

Comments 8

  1. Pingback: Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer | A diamond in between

  2. Pam Dupre

    Dear Christi,
    Thank you for sharing your heart! When I was going through a very trying season with my vision I didn’t handle it the way that I wanted to handle it – strong in The Lord. I trusted God to do what was best for me but I also knew that God often asks hard things of His children. I feel like I failed that test but the neat thing is that when someone else feels like they have failed a test then I can respond out of my weakness and not out of my pride.
    2 Corinthians 1:3-7

  3. Glenda Thompson

    I’m not sure this is “worth saying”, but it is what my heart is saying at this moment. You, Amy and Mitzi are such great “young” examples to this old person who has gone through a lot of mini storms and one tornado/hurricane combined to literally knock me off my feet for a time. I’m not sure your words would have helped me then, but they sure do ring true now. As you know, a child is always your “child” no matter the age until you die. When a part of you is taken from you it is so easy to ask God “why”? I will tell you Christi, your faithfulness came back much sooner than mine. You are a product of two very Godly parents and it comes through every time you talk or write. I was so sad when you fell and had such a horrible injury, and then so soon after when Melody fell and broke her hip with that precious 5 month old depending on her for his very life, that it rocked my world. I guess all of that to say as Amy did “thank you” for sharing yourself. You have already impacted many people with your journey and how you handled it. Sometimes I wish I could gather all our family around a single compound and be there every day to help each other. Since that will probably never happen, writings like this help us to realize that this family trusts God to bring us through. Satan can throw his biggest weapons at us and we keep getting back up. Papa was also our great example of faithfulness and he would be so proud of you. Enough rambling – just know I love you very much and am so glad you are my niece.
    Aunt Glenda

  4. Post
    Author
    Christi

    I have thought about these comments all day, unsure how to respond when I know the depth of trial represented here above far surpasses anything I can imagine. You all bless me way beyond anything I deserve with your words of affirmation and encouragement. If there is anything God can use in me, I just ask to be wrung dry and left empty of myself and full of His power and grace.

  5. Mitzi Thompson

    All I can say is wow! Christi, Amy… I love you both so much! Thanks for sharing Christi… much, much good WILL come from this. I thank God for holding you through the pain and for leading you to find the joy in the trials. James must have known what he was talking about…:)
    My favorite part… “stop staring at the storm!” Just heard a sermon about Peter walking on the water. Jesus immediately took his hand when he started to sink and cried out… what he didn’t do right then, was calm the storm. That came a little later. And even if we never know the reason for the storms in this life, we can trust the one who is ALWAYS there holding us, comforting us, guiding us, loving us. Thanks again for sharing Christi!!

  6. Amy Baker

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was excited to read this post because I knew it would have great wisdom, but I was touched deeper than I thought I would be! It reminded me immediately of how I felt when my dad passed away and the very dark place I was in for a long time. You never really know how strong your faith is until it is tested and I learned mine was not what I thought it was. Tim is going through a rough time with our church right now too and it’s hurting me seeing him hurt. So I just wanted you to know that this was the perfect post for me to read! I am blessed with a wise friend who told me, “Satan wouldn’t attack you if you were already lost.” When Satan attacks it’s probably because you are climbing a mountain leading to something great and he is doing his best to not let you get there. I’m believing there is something great on the other side of this adversity, and I know for sure there is for you! :-) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lessons you’ve learned!! I love you!

  7. michdeaven

    There has been no greater intimacy with Jesus than knowing he sat with me all through the night in the lion’s den, as hopelessness prowled and circled around me…and Jesus was so close I could smell him. Feel his breath on my face. There is a special grace we only get in the darkness. We don’t get to stay there long. Sometimes I miss that deep, dark place where he shines so bright with just a flicker of light. Thanks for letting us in that place with you.

You have something worth saying!