“What is life going to be without them?” I was in tears as I talked to my mom. “They’re the best family ever. Why do they have to move?”
I wasn’t ready for our dearest friends to move to California, a thousand miles away, with no hope they’d ever come back.
We led a church together. All of us kids were close. I had the worst crush on their eldest son, and our parents had a deep friendship. I couldn’t help doubting how this move could possibly be a good idea, and trusting God with it? That was harder that it sounds.
It didn’t make sense to me. “This family is such a blessing to both me and my family. Why would God want this to happen?”
In these periods of our life, it’s hard to even want to trust God. It’s easier to slump and pout. It’s easier to refuse to see the bright side, the bigger plan prepared for us. But it’s in these moments that we can choose to see the truths God is trying to teach us.
Growing Through Distance
We all need someone to talk to, and I can blab on for hours. My only problem at that time? I didn’t really have anyone who wanted to listen! Thankfully, the wonders of the internet made it a bit more plausible to talk to someone 1,000 miles away.
After our family friends moved, I started a long series of emails with the eldest daughter of that family. I tended to write huge bulky paragraphs–probably pages long–and every couple days, and she would respond. Thankfully, she’s a patient, kind young woman who didn’t mind a preteen girl writing her a series of diary entries.
Looking back now, I can see how God worked through this.
Frankly, I never would have been as close to the daughter as I am now if we hadn’t had those years of writing emails back and forth. She encouraged me, built me up, and made me want to be a better, more mature girl. After all, she was a “big kid.” I had to at least pretend I was mature if I was going to be friends with her! And that pushed me to imitate her–to be an adult while still being unafraid to play with the kids, have a good time, and to throw myself into life wholeheartedly. It also gave me some needed Christian fellowship in a more rebellious period of my life as I struggled to figure out all that growing up stuff.
Then God brought them back!
After several years in California, they returned to our home town. It was almost like they’d never left–and in some ways, it was better.
Now that it was all over, it made sense to me. God hadn’t ever meant to take a blessing away from my family or deprive us of friendship. Instead, he just made our friendship strong enough to last 1,000 miles and several years without seeing each other face to face.
Furthermore, God found a way to grow and shape me–using something my dramatic younger self thought was going to wreck my world.
God’s Unexpected Blessings
The best kind of blessings God gives us are sometimes the ones that we don’t expect or even at first interpret as blessings.
It’s hard to see it at the time, but he does have a plan, and it’s so much better than our own. He doesn’t make mistakes; he doesn’t randomly change things around in our lives just to see how we’ll react. God has a purpose in everything he does, and he directs our paths in the best ways possible. He’s always there at work in our lives—even if it’s hard for us to see it at the time.
Living before the blessings
Once we see the whole picture, it’s wonderful; but I’ll also be the first to admit that life before recognizing blessings can be difficult. But I can’t count the times that, if I take a moment to look back, I see God clearly guiding my life into something better than I could have imagined.
It’s the waiting period–while a 1,000 miles separates you from a friend, while a loved one is ill, while you wait for years for answers to prayers–that is difficult. How can we survive it?
I find three things to be most helpful: prayer, Bible study, and giving thanks.
Pray that God will continue working his will in your life. His below-the-surface movements are great and powerful, and there’s nothing to fear in it.
Read your Bible! I can’t count the number of times a psalm has calmed me down, a story of a hero of the Old Testament has made me want to fight anew, or a beautiful reminder of God’s goodness has filled me with hope.
Lastly, give thanks. Take time every day to praise God even in the midst of your fear, pain, and lack of understanding. In the small areas and the big, there are always blessings and God-moments to be found.
But mostly, cling to God through the painful moments of life.
When I share about my life with friends and family, they get little snippets, little shots that represent it–but not the whole story. I’d have to write an entire novel to share with them the whole story.
God is writing the story of our lives–but we don’t get to see the whole until we have already lived it. However, we can know with our minds and trust with our hearts that God is sovereign, and the little snippets that we see do come together to form a beautiful whole.