When you pray, you don’t normally expect to get a bad head cold. It’s not usually the way to detect answers from our Heavenly Father. But maybe sometimes it is? I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Disney movie, “Moana,” especially since we’ve watched it for our family movie night five weeks in a row…! One part that catches me is when the heroine, Moana, realizes she needs major assistance after her boat capsizes on the open ocean. She calls to the friendly ocean for aid, who responds helpfully–with a storm! Moana is terrified and duly furious, insulting the ocean when she is shipwrecked on a rocky island. But then she discovers that the ocean was guiding her all along, and she has arrived on the very island to which she was headed, thrown there by the turbulent storm she so dreaded.
It seems this happens often in our lives, where we pray for help and receive it through less than desirable means. In fact, a running joke is that if you pray for patience (or faith), you’re sure to get trials which test you to the very limits!
This week I saw it happen again. The relationship between my oldest son, who is a pre-teen, and my husband has always been rocky. They are so extremely different in personality, so it’s easy to clash. When it came to a head again early this week, I reminded my son to pray for the relationship. I also tried to gently remind my husband how important this time of their relationship is, and I increased my own prayers on their behalf.
So when my three younger children got sick over the next few days, I simply rallied the troops and carried on with business. Then I got sick. Moms should never be sick, but that’s a rant for another day. And I figuratively looked at the Lord and said, “This is not what I need! I’m trying to do good here, and you’re making it harder!”
The kindly Father must’ve just smiled at me, probably thinking, “You’ll see. Don’t worry, I’m taking care of you, even if you can’t see it now.”
And then came the weekend, with our planned trip to attend District Conference. It takes around three hours each way to get there, so we always book a hotel and stay the night between the two days of meetings. When Saturday morning arrived, I was a mess and realized it was all I could do to get out of bed, let alone travel and attend meetings with three other sickies. So after deliberation, my husband agreed with my idea that he should just take our son and go anyway. Despite wailings from the next child (who didn’t want to miss out on any fun!), I felt like the rest of us should stay home.
Not until that night when my husband texted me did I realize what the Lord had done; I had just been in survival mode. The text said, “Yeah, I’m really glad we came. As always, you’re inspired.” Of course I wanted more details, but all he said was “Oh, there’s really nothing huge or specific to say. It’s just been a positive time. I guess there’s still hope for us. ;)”
I can’t speak to whether or not I felt inspired through my haze of sinus pressure and sneezing, but I know undoubtedly that the Lord was investing in our family. His ways are not my ways, and His method is always better than mine, even if it seems harder or if I can’t understand it while in the middle of it (see Isaiah 55:8-9). Getting sick is not cool, but I can handle it much better when I realize that maybe there’s a higher purpose in it.
I love these poetic verses by William Cowper:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful Saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
When we exercise faith in the Lord, His ways–though still mysterious at times–will be less a bitter trial and more a sweet anticipation of lessons to be learned and experiences shared. I hope to be more like that, cuz’ mostly I kick at the ocean and rail about being handed a stormy test of faith. 😉