Sunday morning Cash and I started attending a new class at our church. The teacher was speaking that day on Joshua 3-5. As the class discussed the implications of the various lessons in those chapters, I thought about God's never-ending possibilities.
You can go here to read Joshua 3. Or here is my best paraphrase:
The Israelites were needing to cross the Jordan. They were unsure of how they were going to do this, especially with the river in flood stage. But God told Joshua what they should do. So Joshua led the Israelites to the Jordan and followed through with God's commands of taking the Ark of the Covenant in front and putting their feet in the water. As soon as they did this the river stopped flowing. Ultimately they were able to safely (and in dry clothes) reach the other side of the Jordan.
As we read this I wondered if a single Israelite had this set of circumstances in mind when they wanted to get across the river. Did anyone pray to God particularly for the river to stop flowing and they all walk across dry land? I seriously doubt it. If they were like me, they would've prayed for the best boat to get them across the river (preferably more of a yacht that had sweet drinks and treats at my disposal). But to think of the flooded river stopping so that they could walk across? Not likely it was on anyone's mind.
The cool thing about that is that God's answers to our prayers are mannered the same. We think of a plan to our problem and ask God if he would do _________ to fix our issue. In the meantime God already has a better way out. The resolution is not the same for every person even if their problem is similar. God sees a bigger picture than we do and His ways of answering our prayers are bigger than we could hope for.
In our journey with AnnLouise I have stopped to pray to God and to praise God countless times. He gave us a miracle we had begged for but were not certain we would receive. Yet at times I have also felt tremendous guilt that God answered our prayers in this way as I have friends whose answers in this moment are much harder to grasp. Last week I had a friend lose one of her babies at only 1 week old. I have wrestled with that. The answer to my prayers for AnnLouise was a miracle; my friend's answer seemed to be a miracle until sudden tragedy struck. Now she is grieving this deep loss, and I cannot find the understanding in that.
As I reflected on this hard time for my friend on Sunday morning, I realized that death is not God's answer. Perhaps His answer for my friend has not been wholly seen yet. As the Israelites did not expect God to just stop the flow of water, we also do not know what to expect for how God takes us through various journeys. Let it not be lost that He does not leave us to pain; His Son's blood was already shed for that. We get to lay this at His feet and take His unending love back with us.
Going through this journey has opened my eyes to the hurt of loss/infertility/miscarriage that so many of my family and friends have experienced or are experiencing. Before these past 8 months I did not know the deep sting of pain that these can cause. Yet today I find myself hurting for so many in these situations. God is still answering prayers, but let Joshua be a reminder for us that our answers may be different from hers over there and that our answers may be different from what we expected.
Just this morning as I walked into Bible study I was told about an old friend and his wife who had lost much hope during their infertility struggle, but now they have been given new hope that they had never imagined was possible. Although IVF treatments did not originally end how they had hoped and left them with little insurance money, now someone has come to them with a large amount of money for them to try using an egg donor. They are so encouraged in Christ that the answer they are getting is far different from the answer they had hoped for.
I've watched as friends and family struggle with adoptions. I can only imagine the hardship it places on a mom and dad's heart when they think they have gotten the call for their child only to be told weeks later...never mind. My heart breaks for them. But just as God showed the Israelites a path that was not ever there before, He will show these families their very own path He has for them as well.
I don't know what your struggle is right now. Maybe you are blessed to be in a season where life is just overall good. Or maybe you are having a hard time with a pregnancy, your marriage, school, work, making friends, knowing which major to pick. I don't know--maybe you are just downright struggling through a hard time in life. Remember that God is still fighting for you. He is still a Father who loves you unconditionally. Maybe he is letting the river flood today so that He can control her flow tomorrow.
As I heard a preacher man say one day when I was going through a hard time, "If you are going through the biggest struggle of your life, you are in the perfect position for God to give you the biggest miracle of your life." Our miracle may look different than the miracle she received down the street, but our miracle is coming. We just have to be willing to dip our toes in the water and let God control the river.