“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

(Habakkuk 3: 17-18, NLT) 

17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

    and 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,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Sometimes you just don’t get what you want.  That thing you’ve longed for all of your days.  That expectation.  The ideal. You’ve prayed for it.  You’ve waited, and waited, and waited for it.  You’ve cried out to God, “WHY?!?”  You’ve been angry, sad, impatient.  You’ve been joyful, generous, understanding.  Yet still you wait, and still you stand with empty hands.  At least…that’s the way it feels…when you are left wanting and longing for something. 

This feeling applies to so much in our lives — as we are all different…with varying goals, dreams and desires — yet for so many of us, this feeling is a result of infertility.  It is a silent suffering that plagues the homes of more individuals, couples and families than we ever realize.  I don’t want to monopolize this opportunity to encourage others with my own personal struggle over this specific obstacle…as it pertains to my life, but suffice it to say that I have walked the road of loneliness and despair that comes when your body will not do what you so want it to do…when you don’t get what you want

I got pregnant with my son very quickly, and the pregnancy/birth experience was easy and pleasant (aside from those typical discomforts that all mothers have), so when we decided it was time to try for a second child, our assumption was that it would just happen.  Yet…happen it did not.  Until…one day it did!  Father’s Day 2010 we had a positive test, and we excitedly shared our news with family…yet within the coming week, we experienced the pain and gut-wrenching disbelief that is miscarriage.  Since then, it was much of the same…over and over and over again.  I asked my doctor, “Why is this happening to me?”  There were several physiological reasons that were working together to prevent a successful pregnancy.  I was given odds and statistics, and as a result…I felt like a huge disappointment…broken and faulty.  This wasn’t the way my life was supposed to be…how things were supposed to happen for us!  So, I lied to myself…and to others…oh Lord, did I lie! 

“We don’t want more children.” 

“We are content.”

“It’s been too long and I don’t want to start over.”

And on and on went the lies.  It made me feel better to lie, because when I was honest…I got mad.  The anger would then lead me to conviction, because I am well aware that being angry with God only leads to a hardened, sinful heart.  Yet no matter what I did…whether I was lying about and hiding my true feelings…or whether I was allowing the anger to sear my heart into a stony, protective shell…I was unhappy. 

But isn’t that where selfishness leads us to though?  Unhappiness?  How can it take us anywhere else?  I was thinking with my “Id” (that carnal, instinctual part of my psyche), and allowed it to just sort of take over.  I wasn’t thinking Heavenly thoughts anymore.  I was so focused on what I thought I wanted, that I was missing out on the joys of being grateful for always having what I needed.

Please let me encourage your heart today.  I know the frustration of feeling that your cries and prayers have fallen on deaf ears, but understand this…Father knows best. 

As a child, I remember asking for things that I just didn’t need, yet I wanted them so badly.  I would beg and plead, and though it pained my parents to have to say it, they would sometimes have to answer no…to which I would respond with ridiculous and petulant behavior. 

One time, when I was about 7 years old, we took a family vacation (as we did every summer of my childhood), and on our way back home we passed through Maggie Valley, TN.  We had spent a lot of time and money already, and we were on the last leg of our journey home.  (I can only imagine how tired my parents must have been, after a full week of summer fun with 5 kids under the age of thirteen!)  As I have always been one to notice and read billboards, while we passed through this particular region, I began to see signs for “Ghost Town in the Sky!”  Well hot dog…that sounded fun to me!!  So I asked, “Daddy, daddy, can we pleeeeeaaaasseee go to Ghost Town in the Sky?  Please???”  Well my dad, who only ever wanted to please and bless his family, agreed to check the prices.  This was the 1980’s, so no internet!  He had to actually pull in the parking lot, leave us all in the van, and walk to the gates to inquire about tickets.  As we sat there, I was SO expectant!  I just knew that we would be going in any minute.  When I saw my dad walking back toward the van in the distance, I was literally vibrating with excitement, yet…the closer he got, I could see he wasn’t smiling.  The answer was no.  It was too expensive.  Well, I cried, I wailed, and I just did not understand why we couldn’t go in!  I lamented, “I hate being poor!!”  (A statement I have yet to live down to this day!)  We were not poor!  Sometimes Daddy just had to say no…Father knows best.

That entire ride the rest of the way home, I missed out on the joy of my now because of my sulking about the past

Friends, don’t sulk and wallow in your discontent.  Rejoice in the Lord, who has graciously given to you all that you could ever need.  He truly does know best.  There is so much about my life that would not have come to pass if I had been handed what I thought I wanted in the moment.  Babies are always a blessing, yet I know that there are things that I was meant and appointed by God to do that would not be possible if my life were any different than it is right now.  I am finding joy in that…in seeing that God is moving all around me, and using me in ways that I never would have come up with on my own. 

“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need!”  – The Rolling Stones

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when things are not as I imagined — when I am hurt, questioning, and confused — help me to see Your hand in my life anyway.  Give me joy in my mourning, and help me to trust You at all times.  Amen.

“I Have to Believe”

(Psalm 77:19, NLT)

Your road led through the sea,

    your pathway through the mighty waters—

    a pathway no one knew was there!

“You either believe it, or you don’t.”  This was often my dad’s response when I would come to him with my deep, brooding questions about the Bible.  He would offer to me his explanations and wisdom, based on God’s word, and when I’d just stare back at him, both of us unblinking for long moments while I mulled it over — passing it all through the filter of my skepticism — he would eventually break the silence by saying, “Well honey, you either believe it…or you don’t!” 

When you’re tiptoeing through the hardest parts of your life, not knowing what to do next or how you’re going to make it through, it can be nearly impossible to truly trust God.  In the moment, when everything is fresh and the stress of it all is what fills your mind every waking moment, you can’t see anything except for your struggle.  This is the point when you have to get out of your feelings and let wisdom lead you into understanding.  You have to look to the things that confirm God’s faithfulness, because that is how your faith and hope in Him are reinforced.  So look back.  Look at God’s word and the many accounts of God’s provision and goodness to His people.  Think of the Israelites, of the many times that they were destitute and helpless, due to their own blindness and immorality — yet God still had mercy on them, and through His divine lovingkindness, His power and His might, He saw them through it all…parting and drying up waters for their safe passages, sending sustenance from Heaven when they were hungry, defeating entire armies before they ever had to raise even one sword in battle!  The list truly does go on.  So look back.  Look at your own life and remember the times that He has sustained you when nothing and no one else could — even when you did not deserve it! 

For people, having faith can be difficult, because we are so limited by our humanity — by sin, selfishness, confusion, emotions.  This is why we have God’s word.  It guides and directs us when we feel lost.  It is a reminder to us of His omnipotence…His divine power.  The Israelites did not always trust God, and they always paid a tremendous price for it.  They made things so much harder on themselves than they had to be, because they simply got stuck in the moment.  Don’t make those same mistakes in your life.  Don’t allow circumstance to dictate your faith.  Instead, look back.  Remember His goodness and let it build your faith and garner hope.  Remember that your hard times are often pathways that are leading you into a new season — a pathway no one knew was there! God is brilliant in so many ways, showing off His glory and allowing us to see Him in all of His majesty, but remember that He is always working behind the scenes in our lives.  We cannot always see things the way that God does, fully and entirely, but we can and should place our faith and hope in Him.  Give Him the credit He is due…and trust Him.  Like my dad always said, “You either believe it…or you don’t!”

(Psalm 77:11-12, NLT)

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;

    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

12 They are constantly in my thoughts.

    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I choose to trust You…NO MATTER WHAT.  I realize that I am limited, but in You I have the strength that I need to carry on when things are hard.  I look back on my life and remember the many times that You have carried me, and I know that I am safe with You.  I am covered.  I have hope.  So I trust you, Lord.  In all things, through all things, I trust YOU.  Amen.

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