This has not been an encouraging week. I try to keep the brave face on, but with each job that slips through our fingers, with each “unexpected” expense–or for that matter, the expected ones that we simply do not have the ability to pay–the frustration builds, the despair grows, the faith feels so small.
I am clinging with desperation to what God promises us. I have seen him answer beyond what we ask or think. I KNOW He hears us and that he answers us. And the answer we keep getting on the one issue we so desperately need a yes to, is no. Not this job.
Every. Single. Time.
The Handy Man just keeps plugging on–taking this handy man job or that, trying to not be discouraged, too. It is a miracle that three years into unemployment land (we just celebrated that rather dismal anniversary a few weeks ago) we are not behind on our bills. This could be the month. Unless something drastic happens, our chins will sink below the surface. And still we cry out and believe, and ask for faith to believe more. I have joked that I have an idea of what the Israelites must have felt as they ate manna and asked for quail. Their shoes did not wear out, the Bible says, during their 40 year sojourn…..our shoes are wearing out, as are the tires, the brakes, and the appliances. And as much as I appreciate the manna, I am ready for some quail.
Yesterday we had to have our car brakes fixed. $400 worth of fixed–they are safe now, but to have all four pads, plus two rotors go bad (with little to no warning!) at one time was not in the plan. A few months ago, our microwave hood bit the dust. No problem–a friend gave us her counter top microwave when she moved. Last week the dishwasher pump broke. No problem, we can wash by hand. But car repairs are another matter. We cannot fake that.
Today the washer broke. I have been sitting in trepidation as the Handy Man has torn it apart. It is not something obvious, and now we have three choices: order the part we think may be the problem (shot in the dark), call a repair man (the last one three years ago told us it was on its last legs and we would be better off getting a new one), or using imaginary plastic money to buy a new one. The choices feel overwhelming, but I guess we will order the part and pray it works…$75 is cheaper than going to the laundromat with the clothing and towels of eight people a few weeks in a row. And as much as I admire the pioneering spirit of the women who went before, I refuse to wash in a tub. My clothesline is not even accessible right now…the back door is rotting, and the back porch is unsafe. And there are no resources to fix them.
And still the hits keep coming. My father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease with dementia. I am grateful that my relationship with my parents has been healed, and that I could be there to help them navigate through the medical system as we sought diagnosis. It is my joy to be able to go to doctor’s appointments with them. I hate that my mother has been paying my gas money for me to do so. I hate that we are losing my Daddy…or his mind, anyway. And more than anything, I want my Daddy to know Jesus.
“As if this is not enough!” I cry to God. Because the squeezing is not done. There is the issue we have not yet shared publicly.
We are going to be grandparents (again–our oldest son has a daughter whom we never see.) Dee came home from college toward the end of spring term and told us that she was pregnant. The circumstances are not good for her–she is not even in contact with young man at this point–and she has decided to drop out of that college for now. She is enrolling at a closer technical school in the hope of finishing her associates degree. It has been a tumultuous ride. On the one hand, who cannot rejoice over a baby? A new baby in time for Christmas! We are so proud that she came to us as quickly as she did, that she valued the life of her child over the convenience of so-called choice. But what a blow for us. An unmarried, pregnant daughter….her whole life ahead of her, and the challenges just got so much more difficult. Everyone here has wanted a baby for quite a while–the younger children ask me at regular intervals when God is going to give us a new baby. Dare I suggest to God that maybe He could have answered that prayer a little differently? Did we need this, too? And I am reminded that God only gives us good gifts, and that this child is being fearfully and wonderfully made. So yes, we are getting excited, even as we dread the unknown, even as we ache for our daughter. The ambivalence is palpable.
The stuff going on right now is overwhelming. And yet God in his Mercy continues to remind us of how powerfully he loves us. From the close friends who have come alongside us to offer their love and support–and most importantly, their prayers–to the fact that somehow we are still here with provision for this day, our Father keeps reminding us that we are not alone. No matter how alone we might feel in this moment, as the broken appliances mock our inability to replace them, as the credit card bill looms over us in the next few weeks, as we wait on yet another job possibility, we cannot and MUST not depend on what we feel. We must rely on the truth. God is with us. He is our very present help in time of need. He is our perfect righteousness. He is our provider. He has proven it time and again.
A sweet friend sent me an encouraging email this morning about strong mothers. I needed that. Another dear friend of mine called me this morning. We had a nice chat, and then we started talking heart stuff. She has been praying with us for a few months while we have reeled from our new sets of circumstances. God used her to help me see some things to which I have only had puzzle pieces ….and now that the puzzle is coming into focus, I am not all sure I like what I see. The conversation was so timely. I woke up in the middle of the night with what I was sure was message from the Lord, and I spent a few hours in prayer just agonizing over what it meant. My dear friend was like the interpreter for tongues–she had the missing pieces to what I felt God say. How can I doubt that God hears me when I can hear him so clearly on this issue? Why won’t He speak as clearly on the other issues? Why has there been no neon sign for the perfect job for the Handy Man?
I wish I could keep my cheery optimism on my public face all the time. But God calls us to not only believe the truth, but to be honest with Him, too. I am thankful for my friend who was not afraid to speak the truth in love, who was not uncomfortable with my tears, who was eager to take my burden to the Lord in prayer with me. I am thankful that God will provide for us as He has promised, even if I cannot see it right now. I am thankful, but oh, gracious, how we would love some quail!