Walking with God through the tough times is a singular experience. It’s almost impossible to describe to anybody else, and even when you do, it doesn’t always help. All the answers sounds the same: “Have faith,” “God has a plan for this,” “Just hold on and you’ll be fine.” And even though every one of them is true, they all sound so hollow in the moment.
I was there, and in some ways, still am. I followed God out of a job and into an unpaid ministry internship. Then I followed him through 9 months of unemployment. It wasn’t easy, in fact at times, it was horrible. I never dealt with such severed depression as in those nine months, never felt so broken. But when that season ended, I looked back and realized something profound: I made it.
Sometimes, seeing God’s glory in struggle is entirely retrospective. By that, I mean sometimes you don’t feel like God is really there with you. Where’s the miracle? Where’s the growth? Where’s God? But then you see Him when you look back through all you’ve survived and ask, “How did I get here?” or “How am I STILL here?”
Those were my such questions:
- How did I survive 9 months without any more than a couple temp jobs?
- I did the math. My wife and I lived off about $20,000 a year for 27 months. How is that possible?
- How did a savings account with only $2500 last for 2 years?
- How could we still afford new shoes, car repairs, 2 surgeries and a dozen doctor’s visits, consistently full bellies, a roof over our heads, hot water, Christmas presents for everybody, paying off the car, and even a mini vacation at the end of it all without taking on any new debt?
Even today, when I have more money than I’ve ever made, I ask those questions. This last month we moved, and had to make a lot of changes. Because of the overlap of services and some delays, we ended up double-paying rent and health insurance, and even triple paying the phone bill. Not to mention a number of other unexpected payments. I did the math, and we’d make it, but we wouldn’t be able to rebuild our savings account like I’d hoped.
Last Saturday, Nov 30th, my wife and I sat down to figure out our budget. When all was said and done, when all the extra bills had been paid, we still had enough money to put $500 in savings, another $100 aside for Christmas, and even $50 for another savings need. And we still had money left over, lots of it.
How is that possible? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve asked myself that question. One day I’ll look down and realize that I’m standing on some sort of checkered finish line. Then I’ll turn around and see the mountains and valleys, the deserts and the swamps. Then I look back at my feet, and I wonder, “How did I get here?”
The answer, of course, is God. Sometimes great miracles get us to the finish line, but often times, it’s little ones, so little we don’t even notice until it’s over. We wonder and fret, how am I going to get through this? And then suddenly, we are.
So if you’re struggling today and wondering where God is, just hold out until the end. He’s working, oh, he’s working, you just might not see it until the end. And when you do…you’ll drop to your knees and worship. Sometimes, God work like a puzzle: it’s never clear until it’s complete.