But as I rejoice, I think of my friend who we’ll call “Joy” and a phone call we had last year. Joy and her family have had more than their fair share of bad breaks. They are strong Catholics and they have weathered innumerable storms. Just in the last 2 years, multiple job losses, death of a parent, loss of a house due to foreclosure, numerous utility shut-offs, one of the grandparents literally being pushed out of a nursing home because of a Medicare clerical error to name a few. Joy and her husband maintain faith in God and His plan, but last year around Christmas time when her son was being turned out of his dorm for Christmas break and couldn’t get a ride home and they couldn’t afford to get him or put him on a plane, train or anything else, she called me in tears.
“I feel like we have so many challenges because God feels our faith is not enough.” My heart broke. I could only offer my prayers in her current and all her situations. She went on,”I read all the time about these last minute reprieves, these miracles that happen because of prayer. It never happens that way for us.” She was right. When her husband lost his job of 30 years, we prayed for a new position to open up immediately. It took about four months and then a week into training, the company declared bankruptcy and he never got a check for his time put in. Instead he got a part-time job with no benefits that couldn’t pay their bills while he looked for a second job or another full time one. Joy went back to work meaning her mother had to go into a nursing home. Two months later because of a clerical error with Medicare, Joy got a call that her mother and her mother’s belongings were being literally put out on the front porch (it goes without saying they couldn’t afford the nicest place for her mom) and her daughter and a friend had to go get her and bring her home while things were sorted out. Joy lost hours and nearly her job fixing that situation and her water got cut off despite the water company’s promise not to in the process. Yes, there were blessings mixed in there, but man it was tough. There was no last minute reprieve, there was no deposit in their account.
Our prayers were being answered, but never in ways we understood. Joy’s husband is still seeking full time employment and each interview I pray for it to be “the one” and inevitably the company “goes in another direction” or “found a better fit.” Joy has told me that she no longer gets worked up or excited about a prospect. She says she believes God is teaching her not to depend on man at all.
That phone call though. I know that feeling. The feeling that God’s will is always contrary to our own. That family and friends who are not believers throw in our faces, “Where’s your God now,” when we don’t get the call for an interview or don’t have the money to pay the bill in time. Like, the people who have those last minute reprieves have stronger or better faith. It’s not reasonable, but it’s a real feeling. Did we misread God’s signals? Did we get the wrong playbook? Why doesn’t anything work out for us like it does for Mrs. X? Everyone prayed and her situation had such a beautiful ending!
Most people don’t get those beautiful endings. We give so much credence to these wonderful stories. And they are great, but in comparison to the small miracles we have, they can make us feel less than if we allow them to when our own miracles don’t measure up. And the devil can use this comparison to tear our faith down. To make us lose trust in God because our miracles aren’t as “great” as someone else’s. And I don’t know how to fight this except with prayer. And more prayer. And Scripture and talking to other believers.
I’ve seen good people like Joy suffer immeasurably and never really seem to not suffer. I’ve seen people who’ve had bad breaks and get incredible blessings. And I’ve seen people who are just chugging along with no bumps in the road. No one knows what God has in store. We just have to trust our faith will carry us, keep praying and remember now is not the final goal. Eternity is.