I have a confession to make: I’m crazy about Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy Miller series. Just ask my husband. And I didn’t discover the series until I was a college…graduate. The comforting fact is that the teen series follows Christy all the way through her college and married years. Reading about Christy in her married years feels a little more normal, considering my age.
Not that reading young adult fiction as an adult is a bad thing. I’ve learned a lot from Christy and the gang over the years, especially Katie Weldon, Christy’s best friend (who has her own spin-off series). Katie is known for coining clever phrases like the “Land of If Only,” which is a place we all find ourselves in from time to time. Pondering “what if?” or asking God “why did this happen?” delivers you right smack in the middle of the “Land of If Only” where the weather forecast is always 100% discontentment and confusion.
When I find myself lost in discontentment and confusion, I think of a poignant moment in Katie Weldon’s journey. Katie, a native Californian, is serving the Lord at Brockhurst in Nairobi, Africa, and waiting to see what God has in store for her and Eli. The wait is painful and she begins to doubt her own instincts. Maybe Eli is not the one. Maybe Africa was not meant to be her lifelong mission field. In the midst of her “waiting season,” a Godly woman sits with Katie to share a piece of advice. The Godly woman’s husband has just returned to Brockhurst after being MIA on the mission field. While the Godly woman waited for any scrap of news, she chose to be thankful instead of fitful. She says:
“And as I recalled all the things God had done for us in the past, it was like I wasn’t alone in the waiting room of my heart any longer. I hung every one of those memories like pictures on the wall, and then I would look at each one of them in my mind’s eye and say, ‘Thank you, God, Thank you.’ I started to praise God instead of question him.”
I don’t know about you, but lately life has left me with a lot of questions. I made a list, and sadly it was easy to generate.
Why didn’t God save my parent’s marriage?
Why doesn’t God spare my loved ones from painful journeys?
Why did Kentrell drown?
Why am I still afraid to write and submit my stories?
Why, when I pray for what I believe to be Godly and good things, does the opposite or nothing seem to happen?
That last question always gets me. I’m not sure how to resolve such a question, but stay tuned. God has been teaching me a little more about prayer and His sovereignty day-by-day, step-by-step. I’ll be sure to share with you whatever I learn.
But for now, I am thankful for the reminder to switch gears. When one question leads to another and another, I need to stop and replace my questions with thankfulness. David was faithful to do just that and his thankfulness kept him afloat. For David, it was not the “Land of If Only” that threatened to bring him down, but the “Pit of Despair.” A little more dramatic, but for good reason. First Saul sought to kill David, then David’s own son, Absalom, wanted him dead. In Psalm 42, David does not question God and then succumb to grief. Instead, he shares his questions, grief, and despair with God. Then he recalls the better times and the goodness of God. “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng” (Psalm 42:4).
David’s pain is still real, but he concludes his prayer time with hopefulness (Psalm 42:11). He chooses to praise God in the midst of sorrow and it gives him the strength to go on.
Friend, it is hard to thank God in the midst of sorrow. It’s even harder to catch yourself in the act of questioning God and then turn your questions into praise. Perhaps that is why I love the Godly woman’s visual so much. As we wait on God, it is better to decorate our hearts with “pictures” of God’s grace and mercy instead of cluttering up our hearts with questions. One leads to peace and hope, the other leads to bitterness and anger. God desires peace and hope for our hearts, even as we go through the crucibles of life.
Challenge: Don’t let the bad things and questions in life rob you of the joy God has for you even today. Instead, “count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God hath done.” I gaurauntee the sum of your blessings will outnumber your questions.