I did something very dangerous the other day.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to Long & McQuade to pick up saxophone reeds for my youngest son. I needed to wait for help, so instead of standing there patiently waiting, I made the mistake of wandering over to the piano sheet music.
Dangerous move on my part.
I don’t even want to think about all the money I have spent on sheet music through the years – so many books, so many songs. But it’s been awhile now, so when I flipped through the Sacred Piano Solo section and saw a new book by one of my favorite arrangers, Phillip Keveren, I had to. I just had to.
It was a book of arrangements of worship songs – I couldn’t leave it there! It’s now sitting on my piano, I’ve played through the entire thing, and it’s just brought me joy.
One of the songs in there is “Blessings”, by Laura Story. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but really didn’t know the lyrics, so I went and found it on iTunes.
It’s been running through my head these last few days, and it really is quite profound. It talks about the things we ask God for – health, happiness, things like that. But, we don’t always get those things. Read these lyrics:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Ouch. Such truth…such painful truth.
I know that my God is so loving, so compassionate, so merciful. Because He’s all of these things, I know He has a good plan for me. But sometimes it’s so hard to see it in the hard things.
To feel God’s provision when there’s just always so much month left at the end of the money.
To remember that marriage is a gift from God when the strain of life starts to fray its edges.
To see God’s goodness as you walk through illness with a child that just goes on and on.
We’re not promised an easy life – the exact opposite, actually.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NLT).
“…when troubles of any kind come your way….”
When. Not if. Not maybe. When.
I know all the proper answers – lean into God, leave it all with God, trust Him, He’s in control – I know. I’ve said these things so many times.
But how? What do these things even mean? What does “leaning into God” even look like? Because I’m leaning – I can’t stand up anymore, so believe you me, I’m leaning. And still it’s so, so hard.
So what are we supposed to do? I also know the answer to that too – keep leaning. Keep trusting. God is in control and He has a plan. And sometimes it’s through these hard things that He makes that plan clear. Other times not – other times we just need to keep trusting blindly, knowing that He loves us.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NLT)
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
We have the victory. We know how this story of life ends, we know who wins!
But it’s still just so hard some days…