I’m upset. I’m straight up sobbing, lying on the floor, kicking and screaming, full-blown toddler tantrum upset. I asked God for something. I asked Him for a miracle. I prayed for something that I couldn’t believe wasn’t according to His plan (1 John 5:14). I asked Him for something that I knew I could use to bring Him glory. And he said no.
The situation is this: you are currently reading a blog post from California’s newest (soon-to-be) resident. And I hate it. I hate it and we haven’t even moved yet!
Man, I love Austin, TX. It has been my home for the past 8 years – a quarter of my life! It’s where my husband and I have built our family. It’s where our friends are, our surrogate family. It’s where our church is: the church that we helped plant in East Austin, the church that we have been blessed to see grow from twelve to 200, the church where I get to work closely with some of my truest and forever friends, the church that has helped grow us closer to the Lord and His body in ways I have truly never experienced before. And don’t even get me started on breakfast tacos, bbq, and queso…
But California is where my husband’s new job is. He and a couple guys from his grad school research group began a start-up company two years ago. But as with most start-ups, tenuousness and uncertainty led them to seek outside funding which led them to being acquired by a bigger company (ok, it’s not a true acquisition, but I don’t really know how else to describe it). Thus, the move.
But that leads me to where I started this blog post – a miracle. I knew that the only way the Pesynas would be able to stay in Austin would be if God produced some sort of miracle. It could be that the acquisition would allow the guys to stay in Austin and work remotely or from one of the campuses here. It could be that a different company in Austin suddenly decided they needed their expertise and acquired them. It could be that an angel investor loved their company so much he wanted to invest 10 years worth of funding into their company. It could be that their little start-up would suddenly sign 17 contracts that would keep them afloat for the next several years. I don’t know what I thought – just a miracle. And God said no.
Why??? Don’t You love me? Don’t You want what’s good for me? Don’t You want me to be happy? Wouldn’t this miracle give You glory since the only way we could stay would be because You allowed it (See? I’m being spiritual!)? Don’t You need me here? Am I not being faithful? Is my work at church not helpful? We are growing and seeing You move here in Austin – why do You want to take us away from that? Believe me. I have thought of every reason to complain and every excuse I could use to change God’s mind. He still said no.
And frankly, my questions are valid. Doesn’t He love me? Doesn’t He want what’s good for me? Doesn’t He want me to be happy? Wouldn’t this miracle give Him glory? Aren’t I being faithful? Absolutely. Which begs the question: why did He say no?
I’m reminded, as I often am when I’m wrestling with something, of my relationship with my toddler. I frequently have to tell him no. And I imagine his thoughts are not far off from my own. Doesn’t she love me? Doesn’t she want me to be happy? Doesn’t she want what’s good for me? Uncategorically, yes! But what I know is that third baggie of fruit snacks, while tasty and satisfying for the next ten minutes, will not satisfy him in the next hour, might make his tummy upset, will make his teeth rot, won’t help him learn delicious and healthy options for snacks. Also, sometimes I say no simply to help him learn to listen to and trust me. See where I’m going with this?
Maybe God’s answers are similar to what I might tell my son. I have something better. I’m taking care of you. I’m saving you from something, protecting you. I’m going to help you grow. I’m going to draw you and your husband and your kids closer to Me. I’m going to use you differently than how I’m using you now. I’m teaching you to trust Me.
So how do I handle it when I’m feeling like my world is crashing down around me? The answer is: REMEMBER. Remember His promises and remember how he has been faithful in the past.
Man is prone to forget. If you have any doubt, you can look at basically any story in the Old Testament. God is constantly telling the Israelites to build a monument or perform a ceremony to help them remember what He has done to be faithful. Here are a few: the rainbow as a sign of His promise to never flood the earth again (Genesis 9:13), the Passover to celebrate God bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:14), the twelve stones to memorialize God bringing them into the Promised Land (Joshua 4), and ultimately the act of communion to help us remember the our sanctification in Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
God is faithful, and I’m sure it doesn’t take long for you to think back on ways He has been faithful in your own life – not just with the Israelites and generally with mankind. But when the season is dark – when He is saying no – it can be hard to remember His promises and faithfulness. That’s why it’s important for us to memorize Scripture and be in community. That helps us to know His promises and have others around us who know us and can point us back to Him.
Example: Personally, as I’ve recently been dealing with God saying no, He has reminded me of Ecclesiastes 3:11:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
It reminds me that He is eternal and He has a plan for me even if I don’t see it yet. And He might not even connect the dots for me until I see Him in heaven (Dang!). However, it will be beautiful. It is beautiful!
And can I let you in on a little secret? This is not the first time He has used this piece of Scripture to remind me of His promise and faithfulness. Several years ago, I felt Him calling me to go on a last minute missions trip to Haiti. I had just been married a few months beforehand, I had not really been outside the country, and I had never been exposed to such poverty as is found in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. But I told God yes, and the spiritual warfare began.
For two weeks prior to the trip, a depression seeped into my soul. It was so bad that on the way to the airport, I felt physical pain, an actual burden on my heart. The enemy told me distinctly: Kiss your husband now because you’ll never see him again. Lies. But when I stepped into the terminal to catch our flight, the burden was immediately lifted and my spirit was light. Immediately. That week in Haiti, God brought me to Ecclesiastes 3:11, and I began to wonder how he was going to use my experiences with Haiti. I didn’t know, and I all but forgot Ecclesiastes.
Fast forward to couple weeks ago. I’m sitting with some dear friends grieving our move. We are talking about how it is important to remember how God has been faithful in the past. Ecclesiastes pops into my head. And I remember how God was faithful through Haiti. Knowing Scripture and spending time with ladies who know me helped me remember God’s faithfulness in a time when it doesn’t feel like He is being good to me.
You won’t hear me say that now I’m super excited to pack up my life and move across the country. I’m mostly still operating in heartache with brief waves of excitement. The frequency of those waves is increasing, however, when I realize that God has a plan. He hasn’t forgotten me. He is good and wants my good. He has made everything beautiful in its time. And I look forward to the moment when I can say, “Wow, I’m really glad God didn’t keep me in Austin!” even though those words sound blasphemous in my mouth right now.
So maybe He’s not going to let you stay in the city and community you love. Maybe He’s not going to heal you from that sickness. Maybe He’s not going to bring you a spouse or kids. Maybe He’s not going to give you that job or financial stability. Maybe He’s not going to let you see the fruit of your witness. But He is faithful, sisters, and He loves you.