By Lisa Bell
Gray skies, blustery days, bare trees – no thick blanket of white snow brightens the dreariness of a Texas winter. I look out of the window – brrrr, looks cold. But when I walk outside in a sweater the seeming cold doesn’t exist.
The next day, the sun shines brightly but for some reason, my heater keeps kicking on throughout the morning. The wind whips the trees; branches bend low and leaves dart for the ground. Still, the sun beckons me. I step outside and retreat quickly to grab my warmest coat, gloves and hat. Around here, I expect a white Valentine’s Day more than a white Christmas, although the sky sometimes dumps snow when I least anticipate it. Welcome to Texas.
The spiritual realm mirrors that of the physical world. I read the book of Job and see traces of my own life. I look around and wonder why blessings elude people who serve the Lord continually while others disregard God or play at Christianity yet abound with all they desire. I sometimes feel I must be messing up big time because trials keep coming. They hit me from every side and just when everything seems good again, something else happens that sends me reeling. Understanding escapes my wee mind, and I wonder, “Lord, what are You doing?” I question the truth of long-held beliefs and seek His face to preserve faith and hope that I learn something new about His character in the process.
What seems like truth differs from reality much like the deceptive Texas winters. I don’t see the big picture, and only the Lord knows exactly what He means to accomplish through the trials. Nothing happens without a purpose, although many times I miss it. Perhaps if I learn the lesson the first time, He might need less repetition. More often than not, I miss His reasons in the subsequent times, so I study Job and seek a little wisdom for myself.
In Psalms, David speaks of the same things Job observes. Wicked people thrive and the righteous suffer. Good and bad happens to everyone, but what I do with both extremes shapes my character. Through every trial in life, I can trust God, even when circumstances make utterly no sense in my finite mind. I seek answers, but many times, they do not come. Yet when I kneel in His presence, I gain peace in the middle of storms. A quietness of my soul descends as the Holy Spirit assures me the Lord indeed knows His plans for me and those plans are good. I may not trust circumstances – sure don’t understand them – but I do trust His character, and that faith carries me through tough times. I detest the process, but not the One who knows best.
C.S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” At times, I doubt my own ability to stand firm in Him, and I dread any pain or discomfort. Nevertheless, through life, His nimble fingers knead my rough spots away and mold me into the woman He sees in my future.
Like Job, I am human. I marvel at Father’s silence and seek understanding. Instead of imparted knowledge, He teaches me full trust in spite of life’s fuzziness. I’m learning. When I seek Him over understanding, the silence bothers me far less, and the quiet breaks into the shining glory of His grace.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before Your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
— C.S. Lewis