I think when a lot of people go through tough times they question why God would allow “it” to happen.
For me, I GET that God has a BEST plan. I GET that His timing is perfect. I get that He knows what is best for me. I GET that crappy things are going to happen, even to His children, EVEN when they are following closely behind Him in obedience (because so often people question if they heard God correctly if their walk of obedience becomes difficult). I GET that life sucks sometimes and that we are never going to totally understand WHY exactly God does allow hurtful and painful things to happen. I GET all of that. I truly do!
Josh and I have been reading a book called “Sifted“, by Rick Lawrence (Thanks Katy!). It couldn’t be more of a perfect book for the season of life that we are stepping out of.
In Luke Jesus says one of the most chilling (in my opinion) phrases of the Bible:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
If you notice, Satan went to Jesus to ask permission. He sought Peter out. That’s a little unnerving. God was gracious enough to give Peter a warning at least, ha! And then He graciously went on to tell Peter that he had prayed for his faith and that Peter would, in turn, strengthen his brothers after he had been “sifted”.
When Josh and I were in the midst of our “sifting” in Uganda we often questioned why things were going so “un”planned. We often questioned how in the world everything would work out. We even questioned if we’d ever get back home (this would have been a very low point in our journey:). I’m sure we had underlying doubt and questions about why this was going so unpredictably for us while others were zooming in and out of country in less than 3 weeks!
Oh we questioned. (Here is where I want to say that I believe we are allowed to question God and speak from our hearts to His.) But we finally grasped (at least part of) the reason behind it. We had a lot of learning to do.
This “sifting” that we were going through was a hurt that God had allowed. While we weren’t particularly rejoicing in the fact that we were facing obstacles at every turn we were confident that God had a plan. While we weren’t sure how the end would play out, we were confident that God had a plan. While we weren’t sure if we could hang on any longer, we were confident that God was holding us.
After beginning this book and realizing the significance of being “sifted” I believe we could embrace the hardship a little easier. Our thoughts turned from wondering how it would all play out to “I hope we can finish strong” and “I pray we can pass this test”.
Instead of questioning God through all of this, I’m questioning my own heart and motives. I want to pass this test! I want God to get as much glory out of our sifting as He can! I don’t want my own fears and insecurities to get in the way of what God is teaching me!
I’m all about being transparent and open, because I believe it can help others, but this is a little hard to admit.
Here is the weird thing. When we finally got word that we had been approved to bring Alethia home I was beyond thrilled and relieved. But at the same time I felt a strange spiritual finality, as though the sifting were over. That the test was complete. I felt like I’d passed, maybe not with flying colors, but at least I survived, but for some reason that wasn’t enough. I wasn’t ready to be done being sifted. I don’t want God to stop testing me. I know it doesn’t make sense.
It took some time to sort these things out in my swirling head and I believe I now understand what was going on. It’s not that I want heartache or difficulty all the time, but I don’t ever want to feel like God is done with me. I want to be in a place where I continue to grow!
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am more than ready to have my whole family on American soil, in our own home, TOGETHER! I am so ready to have this baby and begin to live a normal life again. But I don’t ever want to forget the sifting we have been through and I don’t ever want to be so comfortable doing life that I would cave in the midst of another sifting season.
So for now, I pray that we can enjoy the victory when this season of sifting is complete (because this will be the time to gain strength for the next one), and pray that when our testing is complete that we can turn back and strengthen our brothers, because that is when God will get the glory!