I’m not sure why Christians are under the impression that because you choose to follow Christ that life is going to be easy. In fact, I had that same mentality for years. I often reminded myself that I was faced with hardships and tough times because I wasn’t living the life I should be. I was constantly going against God and that was why I was suffering. WRONG. So very, very, very, wrong. We suffer because that’s just what happens. It has nothing to do with your relationship with God or lack of a relationship. The difference between suffering as a believer and a non-believer? A believer knows you’ve got someone standing with you no matter how tough it gets.
This idea is so very important to me. No, I can’t see Jesus standing beside me as I crunch the numbers and wonder how I’m going to pay this month’s bills and be able to afford groceries, but I know that if I put my faith in Him to help me through it, that He will. God’s timing far exceeds my own. He knows what He’s doing. And it is important to remain full of faith, something that proves harder every time the struggle gets worse.
My husband works very hard to take care of this family. He always put us first and has always done what he can to make ends meet, but more often than not we are struggling to get by. Of course we know that if I went to work that we would have more money, but sacrificing our children and our time with our children is just not something that we want to do. (For the record, I do not believe that mothers who do work are terrible.) So each month as bill dates loom and paydays seem to get further and further apart I realize that I have a choice to make. 1. I could get upset, start blaming people, freak out, and try to figure out what to do on my own or 2. I could trust that God has a plan for me and my family and He will make a way for everything to work out. Sometimes I choose option 1, and then after wasting my time stressing I realize (long after) that it was nothing but a waste of time because I can’t change anything. So lately, I’ve been trying to really choose option 2. It’s hard, trust me, giving up the control, but I know that it is best for me and it is best for this family.
Let me share a story with you. When Justin and I first moved to North Carolina before the kids, before responsibility, we lived in an apartment that we could barely afford. We hardly ate real meals and we even had the electricity cut off for a period of 11 days, in the summer. We didn’t have it together at all. This is when Justin started to believe in God. He was starting to learn about the bible and he started to believe in the act of prayer. I was still cynical. I was still desperately trying to be in control.
One night I was at work. We had no food in the cabinets, no money in our bank account, and no payday to help us. We were starving. We hadn’t eaten in a few days. I dreaded when work would end because that meant that I would have to go home and listen to my growling belly.
I walked home that night. There was nothing different about that night than any other night. Nothing stood out. I opened the door to my apartment and saw Justin sitting on the futon with a giant smile across his face. I was confused because I couldn’t understand why he would be so happy given the circumstances.
He started talking way too fast and I had a hard time understanding him and keeping up with him. He was so excited. It was something that I had never seen in him before.
“Lauren, it’s amazing. Like it’s crazy. I don’t even know what to think. It has to be God. I mean, He has to exist. There’s no other explanation.”
I stood there and listened, glanced in the kitchen and saw some takeout boxes. I was still confused.
“So I was sitting here, reading the bible. I was so hungry. I read this passage and it really hit me. So I started to pray. I just broke down and I prayed to God. I prayed for him to help us and feed us. I told him how hungry we were. I prayed. I prayed and I didn’t know what to do when I was finished, so I just sat here. I didn’t expect anything to happen, but it felt good to pray. A few minutes passed and there was a knock on the door. I got up, not knowing who to expect, and the neighbors were standing there with bags in their hands. They asked me if I was hungry. They told me that they had brought some food home from their work and they wanted to see if I wanted it.”
I looked back in the kitchen and saw 4 boxes of Chinese takeout. I looked at Justin again and he had tears in his eyes. He knew that it was God, and even I knew that it was God, no matter how cynical I was. Justin asked and God provided.
No, it wasn’t by chance that the neighbors brought us food on that night because we saw the neighbors bring food home for themselves almost every night after work. We often joked as we watched them walk to their door how we wish we worked at their restaurant so we could eat Chinese every night. Any other night they could have brought us food. ANY. OTHER. NIGHT. But it was on this night, after that prayer, that they did.
It is that story that gets me through the tough times. He provided for us even when we didn’t know He would, even when we didn’t deserve it, and even when one of us didn’t even really believe. That’s what He does.
It still took me a long time to get where I am today with my faith even though I had experienced God’s work first hand and I know that’s what a lot of people struggle with. Trust me, I get so excited that I know I can sound kind of crazy. I mean, it is crazy. Believing in something that you can’t see, that really doesn’t make sense, that’s crazy, but I think it’s time for people to start giving credit where credit is due.
A few weeks ago, I was watching the news and a story came on that, to me, seemed like a slap in the face. Since moving to Texas and watching the news in Texas there is a lot more crime than back home. There is always some sort of tragedy on TV. It’s sad. But that day, that story was different. On September 26th a gentleman walked into a Ft. Worth McDonalds. He asked for a water cup and when he went to the dispenser to fill it up he decided to pull out a gun and attempt to rob patrons. In a video you can see the suspect aiming at a customer and pulling the trigger, but the gun jammed. He then walked outside and managed to fire the gun into the air. He then goes back into the McDonalds and attempts to pull the trigger again, but once again, it jams.
As I watched this story on the news I had no doubt that God was there in that McDonalds. At first people claimed that these innocent patrons were lucky, then they realized they were blessed. There were women and children at that McDonalds and I’m not sure if they were believers, but there He was protecting them. He was also protecting the potential gunman because while he would get in trouble, he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life in prison for doing something so very, very stupid and who knows, maybe that’s what he needed to realize God was with him and He loved him.
What I’m saying is it isn’t luck. Maybe I still sound crazy for saying that, but I just can’t believe that it’s luck, the right place, the right time. He is with us, every single one of us, all of the time, no exceptions.
Now, I know that some of you will say “then why do bad things happen?” My response, because we live on Earth. Earth isn’t perfect. It doesn’t mean that God’s not there when bad things happen. My belief? He’s there comforting those who are suffering, calling His children back home.
So I keep my faith. I don’t know how the bills get paid. I don’t know how we have food in our cabinets or in our bellies. I don’t know how we’ll make it to the next day. I don’t know, but that’s the thing, I don’t need to know, all I need to know is that I have someone beside me all the time, making a way for me and my family. People are always going to struggle, we are always going to have hard times, there is always going to be pain and hurt and disappointment, but when you realize you have Jesus walking right there with you, you just know you’ll get through it.