My one girl gets grumpy.
I arrive to pick her up at the end of an activity and I find her huddled on the floor, back turned to the crowd, face hidden on her knees. Or maybe she’s hiding under a table or in the back of a bathroom stall.
She’s not screaming or crying, but she’s definitely pouting.
With arms crossed, with feet stomping, with loud harumphs for emphasis at the end of her sentences, she tells me the crisis: Others disagreed, someone else wanted the same thing, another person got to go first, that person got something better.
But this is the bottom line: She didn’t get her way.
And now, she’s grumpy.
I understand. I can be grumpy when I don’t get my way, too, wanting to sit out and let everybody know that I disagree with the decision and I’m sure not happy about it.
Another of my girls argues her case when she doesn’t get her way. She argues….and argues….and argues her point until you’re knocked over by the powerful wave of her emotions and opinions.
And I understand this. When I don’t get my way, I want to form protest marches and fight, fight, fight, too! Instantly I think of who I can rally to “my side” and how I can convince others that my way is the right way, the best way, the only way.
Maybe if I just give the best speech, argue the best (or loudest, or longest, or most convincingly), use the best evidence and form the largest coalition I’ll win the day after all.
And my youngest girl simply cries over disappointment, not a temperamental tantrum on the scale of the hurricane tantrums we’ve seen in this family. More like the desperately sad wail of a child who realizes the world doesn’t revolve around her…doesn’t always do what she wants or turn out the way she expects.
That’s a lesson that always stings and I’ve mourned myself with frustrated hurt that the world doesn’t bend to my whim or orbit around my convenience or comfort.
I don’t always get my way.
And, selfish creature that I am, I sometimes react all ugly.
But while faith allows us to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love, it demands something else.
Faith means trusting God even when things don’t go our way, when plans don’t work out, when others make decisions we disagree with, when life isn’t perfect or even when life is hard and obstacles loom large and hope doesn’t come easy.
Believing in God’s providential care isn’t faith until we’re blinded by circumstances and still choose to trust.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us this:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith: That’s when we can’t see the end, can’t see how God could possibly work this out for our blessing and benefit, can’t imagine what God could possibly do to make this better much less make this the best.
But we trust Him anyway.
Faith means resting in the knowledge of God’s power over everything we face, even when our senses and circumstances tell us that people are in control, not God.
It seems like others have control of over us, a committee, a judge, a boss, a leader…but faith declares that it’s God, always God, only God who directs our lives.
God is my Good Shepherd, trustworthy, wise, caring, knowing, powerful. I read the familiar promises:
God, my Shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk by my side (Psalm 23 MSG).
Yes, God my Shepherd leads me to places of rest and sustenance, providing what I need, sending me in the right direction, walking by my side even in the shadowy depths of the valley.
And my response can be fighting or pouting…but all my grumpiness, my protesting, my tears reveal where I’m not trusting God’s ability to control the tiniest detail of my life.
Isaiah tells me,
In repentance and rest is your salvation
in quietness and trust is your strength… (Isaiah 30:15)
Enough of the ugly reactions, the crisis, the conflict. Better to seek my God—-what now, Lord? What is your will here in this place? What will you have me do and how would You have me respond?
My salvation is in repentance and rest.
My strength is in quietness and trust.
I choose Faith.
Originally posted August 16, 2013