Apr 24

Why Does God Allow Suffering?


This has to be one of the most difficult questions we can ask
.

Why do children get cancer?
Why does a young woman fight for her life while an elderly woman prays to die?
Why do brilliant minds get dementia?
Why does one person walk away from an accident unhurt and another is paralyzed for life?
Why do some people have so many trials and others have so few?

Volumes have been written on this topic and I have been enlightened especially by the works of C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. But because neither of them is available today to write this blog 🙂 I’d like to share three reasons God may be allowing suffering in your life or the life of someone you love. (Based on the book For Those Who Hurt by Charles Swindoll, copyright 1977,  published by Multnomah Press.)

Why God Allows Suffering in Our Lives

  1. That we might be prepared to comfort others.
    All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

2.  That we might not trust in ourselves.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we never would live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. We have placed our confidence in him and he will continue to rescue us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

3.  That we might learn to give thanks in all things.
And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11

I certainly can’t make sense of your/your loved one’s suffering for you, but I hope you will ask God if one of these is might be “the reason” for that suffering. I believe that knowing our suffering has a purpose can make it easier to bear. 

Perhaps Shannon Wexelberg’s words in the music video “Different Kind of Miracle” will resonate with your weary heart: If I had my way every time I called to Heaven, would I know Him like I know Him today? While I’ve waited so long, He’s been working all along…Could it be He is using all this in my life? Could it be this prayer I’ve prayed is not quite what He’s after? And I will find He’s done a different kind of miracle in my life.

(Be sure to open in your browser to enjoy.)

Apr 10

Ever feel like you want to run and hide?

My grandchildren never seem to tire of playing hide ‘n’ seek. They love scurrying around to find a “a really good place” while admonishing my husband and me to “keep your eyes closed!” Eventually 4-year-old Abby yells out “Ready!” which makes it pretty easy to follow the sound of her voice to her not-so-hidden special spot.

Two-year-old Jack is the easiest to find because he usually hides in the same place and as soon as “Am-pop” or “Mee-muh” discover him, he squeals with delight. Six-year-old Ben gives us longer to hide as he doesn’t skip counting numbers the way his younger siblings do.

I remember our oldest daughter playing hide ‘n’ seek as a towheaded toddler. As long as she had her head underneath something, she thought she was hidden. Never mind that the rest of her was wriggling in plain sight! And I recall as a young girl playing hide ‘n’ seek with barefoot friends on summer evenings as fireflies lit up the dark sky. I’m pretty certain every generation has its memories of this iconic pastime. 

Of course, we adults still play hide ‘n’ seek, don’t we? We hide from worries we can’t interrupt or fears we can’t face. We may try to hide or emotions or our struggles. Maybe we hope no one finds us out.

Perhaps you’re not hiding, but you sure feel like you want to.

Last summer when my husband was dealing with a serious infection and facing a third knee replacement (yes, I said third), I came down with Lyme disease less than 48 hours before he went into the hospital for removal of his prosthesis. I felt so awful physically and so emotionally drained for my dear husband, and so mentally exhausted trying to get ready to care for an immobilized person for the next couple of months that I  wanted to find a “really good place” to hide. (And hoped that no one came seeking me unless it was a free, live-in maid and nurse!)

I can think of many other instances when life felt so overwhelming, I simply wanted to hide. When I was diagnosed with cancer. When there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills. When my mother died. When dear friends’ marriage crumbled. When people got upset and left our church.

But as Christ-followers we have to face reality and we can’t just run and hide…or can we?

That depends on where we are going to hide.

Hiding is not forbidden, says bestselling author Chris Tiegreen: “God allows it. His only request is that we hide ourselves in Him.”

Psalm 94:22 But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.

Psalm 143:9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.

Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.

Psalm 71:3 Be my rock of safety where I can always hide.

Next time life feels overwhelming, don’t just run away and hide, do as the song below says “Run to Jesus.” And as the second really short song (in wonderful four-part harmony!) reminds us, God is our “rock of ages” and it’s always good to hide ourselves in Him.

 

 

 

Mar 27

Do you have as much faith as my granddaughters?

Tens of millions of people around the country filled out online brackets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, including twelve in our family. We seven adults are true sports fans and the five grandkids in our group are being properly schooled in bracket lingo, including the art of choosing a cool team name. Heading into the Sweet Sixteen “Mr The B-Man Bauer,” age 8, sits alone in first-place, followed by son-in-law “Nice Guy Frank” and “Grandma’sGotGame,” while “Ben the Gryphon,” age 6, is closing in on his mom, “Lindsey’sFeelingLucky.”

There also are folks who don’t even know anything about basketball, but still participate in March Madness.

I heard a local radio DJ admit she doesn’t normally follow college basketball, but really likes cheese so she picked Wisconsin to make it to the Final Four. She selected Duke to win it all because she likes the cartoon dog Marmaduke.

But the craziest selection method I heard was a young woman who never watches basketball  and admitted: “I picked my bracket on the colors of their costumes.” (She chose Maryland to be crowned champs and although the Terrapins “costumes” are colorfully decorated with the state flag, they got beat in the second round.)

Pictured here are two of my granddaughters, “CallieCallieboBallie,” 4, and “IzzyBizzy,” 6,  first-year participants in filling out brackets. The only basketball team they have ever watched–or even heard of–is THE Ohio State Buckeyes, so guess who they both picked to take home the trophy?…Of course, Grandma’s alma mater.

Their mom, our middle daughter Bethany a.k.a. “LetsGetReadytoCrumble,” who played college basketball, gave them a choice each round between Ohio State and whomever the girls predicted they would face. Every time, each girl was unwavering in her decision. No amount of suggestion, logic, odds, statistics, or “colorful” costumes was going to change these sweet girls’ minds.

That, my friends, is childlike faith.

I think it’s the kind of faith Jesus was speaking about in Matthew 19 when His disciples tried to keep some little ones from “bothering” Him. Instead Jesus placed His hands on them, blessed them and announced that the “Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children.”

It’s the kind of faith the writer of Hebrews speaks of in chapters 11 and 12: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

I love the tenacity of my granddaughters’ faith and their resolve to stand by “Grandma’s team” (I only picked the Buckeyes to win in the first round!) The problem is that the object of their faith was not fully reliable.

The faith that scripture admonishes us to have is in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, merciful, just, holy, compassionate, sovereign God, who can be trusted to keep His promises. (Definitely better than the Buckeyes.)

Just having faith is not enough–we have to place that faith in a God, who will remain faithful to us…whether or not life is fair to us.

2 Timothy 2:11-13:
This is a trustworthy saying:
If we die with him, will also will live with him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Enjoy March Madness and let it remind you against all odds and in spite of all naysayers to have a childlike faith in your Heavenly Father. And if you want a chuckle today, enlarge the photo of my granddaughters to see the score they predicted for the championship game. Eliza has OSU winning 99-2 and Callie, who didn’t have quite as much faith, forecast the Buckeyes winning 90-4. Do you have as much faith as my granddaughters?

(Be sure you open blog this in your browser to hear the music video below: “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves and suggested to me by my oldest daughter, “Aunt D is Ready to Win.”)

Mar 20

God Doesn’t Need Good Odds to Heal

I’ve been thinking a lot about  odds–good odds, bad odds, no odds–because as soon as I finish writing this blog I’m filling out my bracket for the NCAA basketball championship as I attempt to predict all 67 game winners. The odds I will do that correctly are rather slim: 1 in 9.2 quintillion, according to a DePaul University mathematician. (For the record, a quintillion is a billion billions!) Needless to say, no one in the history of the tournament has ever had a verifiably perfect bracket and you can be sure I won’t either!

You may or may not be a college basketball fan, but chances are you think about odds, too. Maybe the survival odds a physician has given you or a loved–or those you’ve read about online. Perhaps you’re considering the odds your marriage will survive or whether you ever will get married. Maybe the odds you’re contemplating are whether or not you’ll get the money to pay your bills or if you’ll find a much-needed job. Perhaps the odds seem to be stacked against you…and maybe they actually are.

But I have some encouragement for you which I recently read  from best-selling author Chris Tiegreen:

Are you weary? Feeling defeated? Overwhelmed by the odds against you? Don’t be. This isn’t about odds, and it isn’t even about your strength. Our weakness is no problem for God; in fact, it’s His golden opportunity to show Himself strong. If you are feeling weak, you are in a good place. God can now do His work with less hindrance. The stage is set for His might.”

I remember when I was diagnosed with cancer in 1990 at the age of 36 and given about a 40-percent chance of survival, I felt overwhelmed by those odds. But as I began to consider the God of scripture, I knew He didn’t need good odds to achieve a victory.

What do you think the oddsmakers would have given the shepherd boy David vs. the giant Goliath?

What were the odds Sarah would give birth at the age of 90?

What was the possibility that 5,000 men, plus women and children could be fed with five loaves of bread and two small fish…and even have leftovers?

How likely was it that a Jewish carpenter would walk out from a sealed tomb three days after being tortured and crucified?

If you or your loved one is facing an uphill battle of tough odds, please remember that God doesn’t need good odds to heal–and that’s any kind of healing: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. 

Listen! The LORD’S arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear your call. Isaiah 59:1

Maybe your loved one is near death or already has passed away and you’re thinking there’s a 100-percent chance you can’t make it without them.  I want to remind you that “the stage is set for His might.” You may not get over this loss, but by God’s presence and power, you will get through it.

God is our refuge and our strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1-2

The song below was written by Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns on the day he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015 (read the story behind the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BPNLi1TPXE  ). What a beautiful message from one who has been in the valley: “O my soul, you are not alone.”

 

 

 

Mar 13

Have you raised a HALLELUJAH today?

A diagnosis of cancer or any difficult trial brings with it many responses, but “Hallelujah!” is not usually one of them. When I found out my cells had gone awry and allowed cancer to grow inside me, gratefulness was pretty much the last thing I felt. 

But I kept thinking about the admonition in the Bible to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I knew that did not mean I had to be some sort of masochist and praise God for ­every­ awful thing that happened to me. Instead, I believed it meant I could have a thankful heart no matter how depressing my circumstances were.

So a few weeks after my diagnosis in 1990, I began to look for something for which to be thankful. It was one of those conversations between my head and my heart.

Let’s see . . . I have cancer at the age of 36 after taking good care of myself physically. No, ­can’t think of anything worthy of thanks there.

My three little girls may have to grow up without a mother. Nope, that ­doesn’t work either.

My husband already has buried one wife and now has a 60-percent chance he’ll outlive another. Naw, that isn’t inspiring any words of praise.

­I’m going to have to take toxic chemotherapy, when I ­don’t even like to take an aspirin. Not much there to feel grateful about.

Finally, it came to me.

Dr.  Marc Hirsh! I have a Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—who knows, maybe the country’s ­only Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—practicing medicine just seven miles from my home. I humbly bowed my head and heart and for the first time since hearing the dreaded news “you have cancer,” I thanked God in the midst of my circumstance.

“Father, you know I ­don’t feel any thankfulness about my situation, but I want to thank You for leading Dr. Marc Hirsh here to be my physician.”

I can ­only imagine God smiling and saying, “Now you’re getting it. Just wait to see how ­really thankful you’re going to be when you I use this doctor to change your life.”

After that prayer, the rest is history, as they say. (If you want to read the earlier incredible story of Marc’s spiritual journey to faith in Jesus as his Messiah, you’ll have to read my first book, When God & Cancer Meet.) But the short story of our “doctor-patient relationship” is that our families became close friends and in 1996 he and his wife Elizabeth offered me a position in his office as a patient advocate providing emotional and spiritual care to cancer patients and their caregivers. I ­can’t imagine what my life would have been like without being a patient advocate for nearly 20 years.

If you or your loved one have a cancer diagnosis or are facing some other unwanted difficulty, I’m wondering if in the midst of your circumstances you have found a reason to raise a HALLELUJAH–literally “praise song” (hallelu) “God” (Jah)).

I think the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk penned a wonderful example of offering a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) even when everything around him was going wrong:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
And though there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
And the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
And the cattle barns are empty,

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17,18

Go ahead, be thankful in all things—even when the hair follicles have no “blossoms,” even though your strength “fails”” and even though your dreams “lie empty and barren.” Go ahead and “Raise a Hallelujah” because a prayer of thanksgiving can unleash the power of God in our lives in amazing ways! (Don’t miss the music video below–open in your browser to view!)

Feb 27

I Choose Joy!

“It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is asleep. The day is coming.

“In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

“For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now I must make a choice… Because of Calvary I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

“I choose JOY…

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker.

I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings created by God.

I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.”

I choose JOY.”
(Excerpted from When God Whispers Your Name, copyright 2009 by Max Lucado)

 Will you choose joy today? If you would like to, but your “funny bone” isn’t working, you need to get it repaired.

I recommend you go to the manufacturer of your life (God). Contact Him on His technical support hotline (prayer) and check out His operating instructions for your life (the Bible). God created you and knows just what you need. I can’t promise God will give you a laugh, but I can promise He will give you His deep-seated joy. It begins by choosing to become a follower of Jesus and it continues day by day by choosing to allow Him to direct your life. Then, and only then, will you find a quiet joy in spite of any circumstance. 

Here’s how Jesus explains it in John 15:11: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

Will you invite God to be the Lord over your painful circumstances? Will you refuse to doubt that you can make it through? Will you see your irritating friends and relatives as people for whom Jesus died? Will you look at your problems as an incredible opportunity to see God at work? Will you rest in the love of Jesus and be filled with His true joy?

Choose JOY today…because of Calvary you can.
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Please enjoy the music video below “Joy” by For King and Country (open in your browser).

 

Feb 20

Laughter IS Good Medicine!



It’s been said that “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper—it doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it sure does make things more acceptable for a while.”

When was the last time you had a good laugh? (Maybe it was when your hubby and your granddaughter ate seriously blue birthday cake frosting!)

We haven’t had a lot to chuckle about during the past several months. (There’s really nothing funny about four surgeries, a knee infection, six weeks of IV antibiotics, Lyme disease, a broken wrist, a nerve injury, cardiac issues, and never-ending rehab.) But every time we do laugh, it reminds us we’re still alive and that feels really good. In fact I believe that we all need to keep—or—get a sense of humor even in the shadow of  life trials.

Laughter is good for the body. Science is just figuring that out, but the Bible told us that a long time ago.

Proverbs 15:30 says:
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news makes for good health.”

Proverbs 17:22 reiterates the point:
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

For some people, the ability to laugh comes easily, but for others—especially those going through health issues or emotional struggles—it takes a more effort. If your funny bone could use some strengthening today, here are some suggestions from Endurance with Jan & Dave Dravecky and from me:

  1. Start your own comedy collection of jokes and cartoons. (Do an Internet search for “clean jokes” or read the newspaper and you’ll find some funny cartoons. Post them at your desk or on your fridge so you can remind yourself to laugh.)
  2. Get your groceries and a chuckle by reading some of the tabloid headlines while standing in line. (Pick a long line so you’ll have time to read about things like aliens with anorexia and manure as a miracle cure for arthritis! Of course these papers are a business expense for me as I use the stories in my “laughter” talk 🙂 )
  3. Hang out at greeting card racks and enjoy reading funny cards. (You’ll get a kick out of them yourself and you also can buy one and send it to someone who hasn’t had anything to laugh about for a while.)
  4. Become a humorous people “groupie” by hanging out with funny people. (Either you’re a funny friend or you need one!) 
  5. Make the most of embarrassing moments. (Share your foibles with a trusted friend and have a good laugh together about the time your wig blew off your bald-from-chemo head or you accidentally dropped a pair of your underwear in the Christian bookstore…don’t even ask!)
  6. Listen to Christian comedians on YouTube. (I highly recommend John Crist and Tim Hawkins, both of whom have a delightfully irreverent sense of humor and help us poke fun at ourselves.)

    Laughter is healing medicine, so please take a full prescription of it!

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This little girl in the music video below (be sure to view in your browser) really feels the words of this song: “There ain’t nothin’ gonna steal my joy!”

Feb 13

Ouch! That really hurts!

As I watch the occupational therapist move along the table working on the hands of all of us seated there, I can’t help but be confused by the different ways he handles our injured extremities.

Seated next to me is a young woman less than half my age with a scar on top of her left hand instead of underneath like mine. Mike grasps her hand and begins bending and unbending her fingers. She quickly starts fidgeting in her chair as an anguished expression appears. Soon she obviously is writhing in  pain. I can’t see her toes, but I’m willing to bet they are curling in her sneakers. She never cries out, but I can’t bear to watch. Mike chats away about anything except her hand, seemingly ignoring the obvious agony he’s causing.

Mercifully after a few minutes of manipulation, he stops and the young woman’s face relaxes. Mike slides his stool until he is across the table from me. He grasps my left hand in his, but surprisingly does not inflict pain. Instead, he slowly and carefully moves it. At one point his motion does hurt and as I flinch, he immediately stops and apologizes.

So what gives? Does Mike like me more than the young woman next to me?  Why do I I seem to have it “easier”than the others? And is she wondering why her treatment is so much more difficult than mine?

I’ll answer those questions in a moment, but let me first ask you: Have you ever looked around at others and wondered why they seem to have it “easier” than you do? Have you pondered why their prayers appear to be answered while you’re still waiting on a heavenly response? Have you entertained the thought that maybe God loves them more than He does you?

It is so hard to be in pain (physical or emotional) for weeks, months–maybe even years–and wonder why God doesn’t cut us a break. We look around and see so many whose trials are not nearly as distressing as ours and wonder if God truly cares.

Do you want to know why Mike, a certified hand specialist for more than three decades, treats the young woman and me so differently?

Because he knows what’s best for us.

He knows that this pretty, petite young lady is in law enforcement and needs to be able to effective use both her hands to protect herself and others. Mike is all too cognizant of her need to allow some pain now for a greater gain later.

Conversely, the injured nerve in my hand is not going to improve if it gets aggravated by too much force. It needs time to heal now in order to be more useful later.

Mike has studied hands for many, many years and he knows how best to bring healing to them. I don’t begin to understand the complexities of the human hand, but I trust that our therapist does.

Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” (Isaiah 45:9)

Dear friend, God knows you better than Mike knows hands. The Lord created you and knit together every fiber of your being. He knows how to bring the healing you need.  I don’t begin the understand all the trials you and I are facing, but I trust that our Father does.
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Be sure to open this email in your browser to hear the music video below, “In the Hands of the Potter” by Casting Crowns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 06

Does God Ever Give Us More than We Can Handle?


I had to smile when I read this, considering the incredibly stressful months my husband and I recently have faced with one health crisis after another.

How about you? Does it feel as if God may have overestimated your ability to handle problems? Are you pretty sure that what you’re facing is too much?

Well, I agree.

In fact, I believe that the trials allowed into our lives often are more than we can bear on our own–things like serious illness, financial struggles, relationship conflicts or any other of life’s myriad disappointments .

I consider myself a strong person, but back in 1990 at 36 facing cancer and the fact that my possibility of dying was greater than my possibility of surviving was more than I could face. Worrying about whether my daughters would have to grow up without a mother was way more than I could bear. And fearing that my husband would bury another wife was absolutely more than I could endure.

“This is more than I can handle,” I remember telling God, trying not to sound too whiny.

“I know,” He answered. “But it’s not too much for Me.”

That was one of the most freeing things I learned through my cancer journey. It was all right that I sometimes had more than I could handle. That’s when I would see the Bible verse in Philippians 4:13 come true in my life: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I ­didn’t have to reach down inside myself and muster up some super strength. God supernaturally supplied it to me as I trusted in Him.

What a relief!

Even if my own resources were exhausted, God’s would never be.

My strength might be sapped, but He could still move mountains.

Everything could be changing around me, but He was always my Rock.

During those first early dark-days-after-cancer, I often thought of the shepherd boy David as he went into battle against the giant Goliath. Do you know what his battle cry was?  He was the youngest and smallest boy in his family. Goliath was more than nine feet tall. But David’s battle cry was, “I know God can, I know God can.” If you read 1 Samuel 17:47 you’ll hear his exact words: The battle is the Lord’s. That phrase appears many times throughout the Old Testament, and it was what I said to myself as I awoke on most post-diagnosis mornings.“I feel like a little shepherd with a slingshot facing a giant named Cancer, and it is more than I can handle,” I told the Lord. “But I am so glad it is not more than You can handle. The battle belongs to You, Lord. Fight for me and through me. Do what I cannot do on my own.”

And He did.

I love how the Apostle Paul describes a time in his life when he was faced with more than he could handle: We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.

What a great message: Stop relying on yourself and learn to rely on God. Your struggles and setbacks, your disappointments and dilemmas are never too much for Him to handle.

Please open the music video below in your browser: “We Will Not Be Shaken” by Brian Johnson.

Jan 23

This isn’t what I had planned…

For weeks I planned this photo of my grandkids in their new, matching Mickey and Minnie jammies we were giving them for Christmas. I envisioned them sitting in order from 8-year-old Bauer down to 1-year-old Mathis, but knew that wasn’t realistic. So I opted for girls on one side (the three of them are definitely “besties”) and boys on the other (with the two older brothers keeping track of their little brothers).

It seemed like a good plan. Who would have thought that asking 4-year-old Callie to put on her Minnie socks would be so traumatic? Or that 6-year-old Benjamin would be exhausted waiting two minutes for us to take the shot? Or that 2-year-old Jack couldn’t face forward for ten seconds?

Oh well, I gave you something to smile about today, right?

This is a humorous example of plans gone awry, but it’s not particularly funny when life plans get sidetracked by health crises, financial struggles, marriage difficulties or other stresses. Believe me, I haven’t been laughing for the past eight months as my husband and I have faced one health ordeal after another.

For him: A failed knee replacement, which led to more surgeries, a long stint in residential rehab,  weeks of daily I.V. antibiotics and another round of PT.  For me: Lyme disease, then a broken wrist requiring surgery and complicated by a nerve injury leading to many months of therapy–still not completed! Oh, and just for good measure, all the “traumas” I’ve faced caused cardiac issues necessitating weeks of heart tests and monitoring (so far everything looks good and it’s “just” supra ventricular tachycardia).

Plans for summer vacation were thrown out the window. Fly fishing outings were shelved. Fall speaking engagements were put on hold and then spring ones, too. Invites to host new friends for dinner were postponed. Desires to start a women’s Bible study were forgotten.

And instead, a new plan was made…trust God even when life isn’t going the way we had planned. My author-friend Carol Kent understands how I feel as she writes in her wonderful new devotional, He Holds My Hand:

“You have an agenda that seems right, and your natural inclination is to develop a strategy that seems practical, predictable, and timely. It’s easier for you to trust Him when everything makes sense and you can foresee a positive outcome. However, there are times when He will interrupt your carefully made plans and ask you to do something that makes no sense.

“Always remember God’s great love for you and His desire to give you opportunities to minister to others along the way. Often, the most important appointment in your day will come disguised as an unwanted disruption. Some people around you need to learn from you, and He will bring others into your life to help you find renewed hope and fresh faith.” #HeHoldsMyHand

OK, Carol, I’m looking forward to my occupational therapy appointment today as a chance to continue talking about spiritual things with my hand specialist while he tries to ease my chronic pain and swelling. And I’m thanking God for dear friends who call and cheer me up just when I need it most.

Has God allowed your plans to be interrupted? Perhaps, you’ll join me in trusting Him while looking for new opportunities to share and receive His great love. The Message paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5,6 makes it clear: Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’S voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

P.S. We never got a good shot of all seven grands together, but here’s a couple pretty sweet ones separately.

Please open the music video below in your browser to enjoy: “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle