I had two breakdowns in the past week — the kind of breakdown that happens when you’re emotionally drained and trying to hold back tears because you are not in a private place, so you end up just kind of leaking tears until the dam bursts and you have to run to your car before someone sees you crying.
If I weren’t so upset during my second breakdown, I would’ve found it funny. Picture someone sitting at their desk, highly annoyed at what they believe to be incompetent coworkers, and suddenly slumping over and sobbing.
I was mad. I was frustrated. I was angry with God. And because I am mature, I took the self pity route.
You are the God of the entire universe and You can’t get me a little itty bitty job. I HATE the job I have now. YOU are blocking my ability to get another job. Why do You keep telling me to wait? Why is nothing working out? I NEED A NEW JOB! You are not nice.
After escaping to my car, I opened my window and threw my cross key chain reminding me to “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”
Then I cried my eyes out.
I am frustrated with life right now. There are hard things in my life, and I’m pretty sure I know best how to fix them. I just need God to cooperate with my foolproof plan. He’s not. I feel like I am banging my head against a wall, willing it to move and it won’t budge. I need it to budge.
During this struggle, two biblical stories come to mind. The first is Mary’s story. I think most American Christians have a sanitized view of her birth experience. We picture a young woman sitting calmly on a donkey being led through the streets of Bethlehem by Joseph. Just 20 minutes later, angels and sweet farm animals (who can sing!) surround the mother of our Lord. Merry Christmas.
In reality, I think Mary was scared. I picture a panicked Joseph and Mary gasping in pain as they attempt to find a place for her to give birth.
Perhaps she, too, had a moment when she felt heartbroken over the difficulty of her circumstances. How did she feel about the whispers as her growing belly became larger? Did she feel betrayed by God, who asked her to carry His Son in a way that would certainly bring disgrace to her? Surely Mary knew her situation would be difficult, and yet …
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, ESV).
The second biblical account that comes to mind is the one of the Israelites, right after they got out of slavery. God had delivered them from their enemies with a strong hand, then … He forgot to provide them with water in a desert? They didn’t like that, so they complained.
During my more righteous days, I would shake my head at those Israelites. I didn’t understand how they could be so foolish — until I ended up lacking water in my own proverbial desert. There is something about waiting for God to provide what you need that will bring out the complaining (and fist shaking) in you.
The parallel I draw between these two accounts is difficulty. God-ordained difficulty. The type of difficulty that can result in breakdowns and throwing key chains from cars. The types of difficulties that make you weep and wonder when, if ever, God will move on your behalf.
There is a strange comfort to be taken concerning painful circumstances: God’s love for you might lead you into your water-lacking wilderness.
How is that comforting? It’s comforting because of who God is.
Imagine God being so enamored with you that He is bent on getting your attention through hardship, disappointment and pain because He wants to provide for you in that hard place.
We can look at the heroes of our faith to see how God did this for them. For Mary, He provided an upstanding, righteous husband and a place for her to deliver her baby. For the Israelites, He provided water and bread from heaven.
If you are stuck in a painful place, search for hidden blessings. How has God provided for you in the midst of painful circumstances? Count those blessings one by one.
Tenell Felder is a newspaper editor who enjoys good food, good books, relaxing with God and spending time with her boyfriend.