“Why?” I yelled, out into the sky. “Why did you trick me, God?
It was January 2002, and I remember so clearly the feeling. Standing out in the rain, soaked to the skin, confused because God was breaking my heart. I wrote our whole story out here, how God brought Jeff and me together in a roundabout way that included a lot of heartache. It was most certainly not the way I thought my love story would go. Now, more than 15 years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But at the time I felt tricked by God.
See, I worked so hard to guard my heart. No disrespect to him, but I didn’t like Jeff. Not as anything more than a friend. But it was so bizarre, it was like God actually changed my heart and made me love him. I know that sounds weird, especially now because I’m madly in love with him now! But 16 years ago I wasn’t. And in a most interesting way, God kept putting Jeff before me, to the extent that I actually God clearly tell me that Jeff was to be my husband.
God set me up.
And then, once I’d fallen in love. Once I’d said yes in my heart and gone head over heels, once I’d fallen in love … then He broke my heart. Then I opened Job and felt the same morning I found out Jeff was dating someone else. The same day Jeff said, “We’re never going to be together.”
It seemed God had purposefully led my heart into a place where it would be crushed.
I felt tricked.
Thankfully, my heart and mind were steeped in the Word of God. Job’s words were my own: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Despite how I felt, I knew that God’s goodness was greater than my limited perspective. I cried, yes. I questioned, ranted, railed. The sting of rejection didn’t go away overnight. But, truly. It was worth it.
Over the years, I’ve seen this situation several times. It’s just Abraham all over again. God is the one who speaks the promise to him. God is the one who births the dream, gives the vision—He makes Abraham & Sarah’s hearts long for their baby boy. And then, they are disappointed by infertility for 25 years. Abraham could have easily said, “You tricked me, God! You are the one who started this whole child-of-promise thing! You made me want this.”
Then once the child comes, God does the unthinkable — He requires Abraham offer up the precious child as a sacrifice to God. Again, Abraham could have easily said, “You tricked me, God! You gave me this child. You let me love him. You turned my heart toward this boy with undying affection. And now, this? You tricked me into this sorrow.”
Thankfully, Abraham does’t. He, like Job, worships despite the pain, and trusts God’s goodness above what He can see. And He is rewarded.
Our own journey led us this way again. I’ve never been a “kid person,” I was happy with my two, born quite a long while ago I might add (!!), but then last fall God made it very clear we were to have more. Say WHAT?! I’ll share more later, but this was not my plan. But lo and behold, as the months went on, He changed my heart. He made me want this. He completely turned my heart around, just as he did with Jeff those many years before. Next thing I knew, I was hoping and planning and dreaming and then … we miscarried.
Now, in all honesty, I didn’t feel angry or confused. I’ve seen God’s goodness so many times. But I felt that familiar feeling, of being led specifically into a place where my heart gets set on something … then it’s gone.
I promise I won’t be the person that’s always pointing to material in my book ;), but chapter 7 of Sacred Mundane addresses this question at length. Does God strategically disappoint us? Why? How do we not lose hope? How do we not get jaded? Bitter? Cynical?
As my friend Pam Hunter recently wrote,
“The great challenge of faith is holding on to hope after you’ve lost your naïveté.”
So often, what I have called “faith” is probably just naive optimism. I told my friend Christine yesterday, “I thought I had the gift of faith but maybe I’ve just had an easy life.” Ha! Right? Sometimes our “faith” comes from a lack of experience, a lack of seeing suffering, a youthful zeal or naiveté.
But faith comes from seeing suffering, feeling disappointment, experiencing sorrow, or witnessing evil … and still believing.
Still holding onto Hope. Faith comes when you feel tricked by God but you refuse to let your feelings eclipse the truth. Faith comes when you trust His goodness more than what you see, more than what you feel.
In the grand scheme, I’ve still had an incredibly easy life. Just yesterday we heard story after story, at church, of incredible men and women in Uganda who are choosing faith despite horrific circumstances. They are the heroes of faith, and I feel so small in the presence of their stories.
But it is not necessarily the size of their faith but the object of it, and the object of theirs is the same as the object of mine, so our hope is in Jesus, forever, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He wrote it, He’ll conclude it. This story may get gnarly at times, but He’ll wrap it up with a glorious conclusion at His return and no doubt we’ll look back and see His goodness in it all.
Hold onto hope, dear friends. Even if you feel tricked. He is good, and you are loved.
Thanks for reading.