Recently, God answered a prayer that was YEARS in the making. Even though I’m 50 years old, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I worked off and on and while some jobs I held were good, many others were toxic. I tried to figure out where my interests and abilities lay. I got my bachelors degree and then my masters along with certifications in various things but nothing got me excited about work. While my health deteriorated, I struggled. I would BEG God to help. I prayed constantly for divine intervention. I wanted more out of life. After going 3 years without a full-time job, I felt like a failure and then, at just the right time, I got a job I’d been trying to get for a year. I had applied for the job, didn’t get it, but was asked to volunteer a few hours a week. I fell in love with the job. It is perfect for me. It utilizes my strengths and interests. I’m making a difference in my community. It’s challenging and the best part: I’m good at it! After learning about the job for a year I’m in a good position to take on the more advanced staff position. And, after years of having supervisors who varied in talent, I’m now with a supervisor I both like and respect. She and my coworker are so talented at their jobs, it’s a pleasure to work with and learn from them.
For the first time in such a long time, I’m happy. Do you know how long it’s been since I was happy? I can’t remember that’s how long. After feeling abandoned by God for so many years I can look back now and see Him at work. Jobs I’ve had that have given me the skills to perform THIS job. Jobs that I didn’t get that would have kept me from this job. Spending a year as a volunteer so I had the chance to get to know my supervisor and co-worker. They’re both highly talented at their jobs and supervise in the way that works best for my personality. They know how to appreciate workers and bring out the best in us. I finally went to God and said, “Ok God, you know all the whining I’ve been doing FOREVER? My bad!”
It wasn’t that this was the first time God had answered my prayers. It wasn’t even the first time God had answered a MAJOR prayer. God has been present in my life since I was a child. That doesn’t mean He’s been a glorified Santa Clause giving me what I want but when I look back, I see His presence. I see the people He’s brought into my life that have become my rocks. I see the blessings of having a spouse that could and would support me during those times I couldn’t work. My beautiful children who have become tremendous adults. My extended family who encourages and loves me. I could not ask for better and deserve far less. When I asked, “God, where are you?” I really just needed to look around me and see the love.
So, that being said, with all that, I should have learned that God is with me even when it doesn’t feel that way, a long time ago, but, nope. Still learning. I know pain. I know frustration. I know anger. What I fail to remember is GOD KNOWS THAT TOO! God knows my suffering. He knows my longings. He knows my fears. He is not up in the sky on some magical throne. He’s not kicking back listening to the angels play harps. He knows my struggles and is right here with me. You see, He’s been HERE. On earth. In pain. Frustrated.
Luke 22:42: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus understands what it’s like to want the pain to end. Unlike me, He knows that it’s God’s will that matters. I don’t believe God causes pain. I don’t believe God wants us to be in pain for some cosmic form of torture. I do think God uses the choices we make and knits them into something greater than we could imagine. You lost your job? God sees this as an opportunity to bless you with something better. You lost a loved one and couldn’t say “goodbye”? God uses this as a reminder to love those in our lives and spend time with them when we can because we never know when the last time will be. The pain doesn’t magically disappear and some prayers are answered with , “No”. But through it all God is there, with His arms around us saying, “Hush child. You will be okay.”
I have spent the last week just saying, “Thank you!” I’m grateful to have a job when so many are losing theirs. I’m grateful to have a home when so many have lost theirs. And I’m grateful I have those in my life that love and support me when so many are isolated. This won’t last. Life will become challenging again and I’ll forget these lessons I’ve learned. I live in the Puget Sound of Washington State. The last few days have been in the 80’s with sunny skies but that’s not normal. Normal is drizzly, rainy days. Normal is cloudy, overcast days. But what gets forgotten is that those rainy days feed the plants making this area lush and beautiful. It’s easy to only want sunny days but as I’ve learned with the joys of watering plants those rainy days are important. The rain brings out the beauty of the land so that we then can enjoy the sun.
For today, though, I’m happy. I see the sunny sky and love it. But I will try – even if I don’t succeed – to remember the sunny sky that is hiding behind the clouds. I will remember that the rainy days feed the sunny days. The rain isn’t all bad. I can find joy in the rain. I can appreciate the rain. And I will strive to remember that the same God that is blessing me with the good in my life is right there with me in the bad times, too. Remember, we share the same God. We might disagree on semantics but the God that loves me, loves you. The God that is patient with me, is patient with you. The God that blesses me, blesses you. What that looks like will vary but the bottom line is: God is with us in the struggles not just the blessings. He hasn’t turned His back on us. He’s with us, waiting, behind the clouds.