While running errands today, I got off at the wrong expressway exit, then turned the opposite way of the store. And I forgot to buy what I went to get, because I’d left my list at home.
At the pharmacy drive-through, the girl behind the glass said, “$8.15.” I put $8.00 in the drawer with a dime and nickel, but she immediately slid it back out to me. “That was a penny,” she said. I took the penny and substituted a nickel, but the drawer came out again. “Either send me a dime or another nickel.”
Simple tasks have gotten complicated, but this is my new reality, and whining about it won’t help. Besides, I’m not the only one struggling to adjust. This week I met another widow whose husband passed away just before Nate. Without even a minute’s warning, her Phillip died at their breakfast table. Rhea is only 23 years old and gave birth to a daughter one month after her husband’s death.
But there’s more. Baby Sandra arrived with major health issues that include frequent races to the emergency room, yet her mommy, the new widow, smiles and talks of God’s lavish blessing over these last months. After hearing her story, I was speechless. My organizational blips are a pitiful excuse for complaining. If I had to step into this young girl’s shoes, I’d crumble. Yet she’s a sparkling example of taking God at his word when he said, “I’ll provide for you.”
Rhea leans on the Lord every day with the full weight of her complicated situation and has unshakable confidence he’ll continue to meet her needs indefinitely. She and her husband served together in Kenya, establishing homes for orphans. And because little Sandra’s recent surgery was successful, the two of them will soon return there.
For most of us there’s a huge gap between shouldering the burdens we’ve been asked to carry and our willingness to seek God’s help. In that gap of complete helplessness, we try to help ourselves, a ludicrous approach to our problems.
But the greater problem is setting God aside and using him as a last-resort solution. Self-sufficiency, esteemed in our society, is always a bust next to the way God wants to do things. His offer is to co-shoulder our burdens and sometimes obliterate them completely. By trying to do things our way, we not only risk making a mess but forfeit the supernatural blessing and unexpected joy Rhea is now experiencing. We also throw away a golden opportunity to give God credit for the amazing things that happen to us and around us when we abandon ourselves to him.
I asked Rhea if she has clung to any specific Scripture passage during these challenging months since Phillip died. Her surprising answer came quickly:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:14-15)
Rhea is shining brightly!