It was midnight, and I lay tossing and turning on my mattress. Again. Lord God, cried my heart, it is such a little thing, why can’t I fall asleep anymore?
I finally got up. What sense was there in lying in bed when you can’t sleep? Besides, my shoulder was sore, and this reminded me of my upcoming shoulder surgery…Lord, Why all these troubles?
With each thought, my heart grew bleaker and drifted deeper into despair. God’s blessings? I couldn’t think of a single one…
Isn’t it always the hardest to think of God’s blessings when troubles seem to be choking our paths? Yes, 1:00 is a bitter pill to have to swallow, but even harder is dealing with the news that you or someone you know has cancer, that you are facing eviction, loss of job, that your spouse is leaving you…Just how can you thank God (see James 1:2-4) in these situations?
I read the following text this morning: “The way of the lazy [man is] like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright [is] a highway” (Prov 15:19).
Wait, didn’t my way seem a bit “choked?” Am I not God’s child? Shouldn’t my way be a highway?
Southern Ontario is full of beautiful highways, and they are truly the best and quickest way to cross the province. Yet often as we drive along with the freely-flowing traffic, we suddenly find ourselves slamming on the brakes due to a sudden, unforeseen heavy volume of traffic. If you’re patient, however, and ride out the traffic a bit, it usually thins back down.
Suddenly I understood: I am God’s child, I am traveling on a highway. But there are things that come up that cause us to slow down: Sleepless nights…rebellious teens…death in the family…The road may still be broad and clear, but we can’t move forward.
What do we do in those times?
On Ontario’s highways, it’s usually best to just “tough it out,” keeping our eyes on the road and our thoughts on our destination. This is how God’s children can navigate life’s slowdowns as well. If we stay on the road, if we keep our eyes on the goal, the “traffic” will lessen. We will arrive at our destination.
And where does “thank God for your troubles” come in?
The more we complain about the traffic on the highway, the longer it seems to take to clear up and the more miserable our drive becomes. What if, instead, we spend those moments in traffic being thankful there is a highway at all? If we remember that no traffic jam lasts forever? If we do, we will find the time goes by much more pleasantly. And what if we later learn there was an accident ahead, and this slow-down kept us out of it? What then? Wouldn’t we then be thankful for the traffic jam?
Why not go through your current set of problems with the same mind-set? Why not spend this time thanking God for all the times He’s carried us through? Contemplating the fact that this will not last forever? Thanking Him for the opportunity to have our lives slow down enough to be able to spend more meaningful time with Him?
And perhaps, at 1:00 am tomorrow morning when my shoulder hurts and I can’t sleep, I should remember the many blessings God brought to me through the troubled times I’ve already weathered with him, and maybe I should praise Him for the opportunity–even at 1:00 am–to spend quality time with Him. What do you think?
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.