WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T GET WHAT YOU WANT
2020 hasn’t been a banner year in many ways. I don’t think any of us had even a clue what was in store for us when the clock struck midnight on January 1st. After enduring much turbulence and disappointment over the past year, we are hesitant to be hopeful that 2021 will be any different. The recent news of yet another extension of restrictions, the possibility of small or no Christmas gatherings, and more virtual meetings instead of face-to-face interactions was met with a heavy sigh—weighing the reality of a deadly virus against the mental anguish of trying to regain a sense of normalcy. Our country, our state, even some of our families, are passionately divided on what the best and right course of action should be during this time. And when decisions are made that are not agreed with, the rift grows larger.
Working in Admissions at PCA, I hear very intelligent, Godly people weigh in on both sides of all kinds of arguments but the most pressing this past year is the response to Covid-19. As a people-pleaser (I know, not a good thing to be), I want everyone to be happy. I quickly learned that with Covid-19, no one was going to be happy. There was no “middle road” that would make both sides fully satisfied. The most recent news conference announcing another 12 day restriction on high school in-person learning and athletics made my stomach churn for two reasons: the people who ache to be active and involved in school and the people who mourn the possible tragic health consequences that large gatherings invite. I thought, “no one is going to be happy today.”
As I was praying about it on my drive home, I asked the Lord, “What happens to us when you don’t get what you want?” The more I thought about it, three areas came to mind:
Change in vision: our focus either broadens to have an eternal perspective or narrows to see only how things impact us personally. In the book of Genesis, we read how Joseph faced many difficult circumstances, but instead of focusing on the unfairness he endured, he was able to say with confidence that what was meant for evil, “God intended for good.” On the other hand, when the Israelites were delivered from Egypt in a miraculous way, they encountered hardships on their way to the Promised Land. When faced with hunger and thirst, instead of trusting the God who parted the Red Sea, they grumbled and complained and never got to see the good things that God had planned for them.
Change in heart: We can become blessed or we can become bitter. In the book of Ruth, we read about a woman named Naomi, who not only lost her husband, but both her sons. In her grief and despair, she returned to her hometown with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. When her friends saw her, they hardly recognized her. Naomi told them to call her “Mara” for she was very bitter over what happened to her. But God was gracious to Naomi by giving her a daughter-in-law who was absolutely devoted to her. Through circumstances only God could’ve orchestrated, Naomi saw God provide a new family through Ruth and Boaz. In the last chapter of Ruth, those same friends who were told to call her Mara now called her “blessed.” Her circumstances did not change, but Naomi saw the difference between being bitter and being blessed – and so can we!
Change in faith: Our faith can either deepen or dry up when going through difficult times. Jesus talks about this in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. In the parable, He describes the different ways seeds fall – places where it was eaten up quickly by birds, rocky soil where it failed to take root and soon withered in the heat, or where it was choked by thorns. Only the seed that fell in good soil grew to produce a bountiful harvest because it was watered with the Word of God. I’m reminded of those heroes of the Faith written about in Hebrews 11. In verses 39-40, the writer of Hebrews says that “they were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what was promised since God had planned something better…” When things don’t go our way, we can either plant ourselves deep into the Word of God to weather what God has allowed us to go through, or we can dry up.
No, we don’t always get what we want, but God always gives us what we need. May we be found faithful as we make the choice to keep an eternal perspective, a heart of joy and blessing and a faith that is strengthened by the Word of God. Our love for one another is a witness to the world that there is a difference in those who are Christ-followers.
Leanne Windle, Admissions Director