“The grand design of God in all the afflictions that befall his people is to bring them nearer and closer to himself.”
Of all the posts I have ever written, this is one of the most personal and one of my favorites. This weekend, I saw my first inchworm of this spring, and I felt the need to share this post again. I wrote it about one of the most difficult seasons of my life and how God showed that He hears every cry His children make, even when we're not sure He does.
It’s as if there are two brains operating simultaneously inside my skull. One is the brain with a brain, thinking about the logistics of my new life – finances, schedules, grocery lists, the reality of living as a single mom.
The other is the brain with the heart, thinking about the pain of being alone.
These two brains war against each other, the winning brain at any moment anyone’s guess. My thoughts shift moment by moment, like a radio dial that jumps between frequencies. This is an unanticipated difficulty – never knowing which brain will take control, and feeling powerless when the wrong one is in charge. Thoughts are the most powerful force I face, and they are as inconsistent and fickle as my four year old.
The brain with a brain is also the one that houses the truth of my faith. It knows that God is good, that He provides for the birds and will provide for me, that He will never leave me or forsake me. It knows that Creator could simply speak and light would illuminate this darkness. It trusts that Satan has already been defeated and though it feels as if he is winning, his fate has been sealed.
The brain knows, but the heart – oh, the heart.
The heart questions. The heart grieves, mourns, wails.
Doesn't trust. Has difficulty believing. Becomes like Job, cursing day of birth and demanding answers. The heart overpowers the brain and convinces self that it will be alone forever, unable to trust again.
Faith-brain and heart-brain take turns at the helm, moving me abruptly, my spirit like a bumper car. I want to be like Job, believing God for good, but Job’s friends take up residence in my head, demanding I search self for fault.
Clarity, Jesus. I need clarity, truth, peace. Give me a respite from the dueling brains. Both head and heart ache.
I determine from day one that I want – no, need – to remain present in this trial. There are lessons to be learned, God-whispers directed to my ear that I will miss if I hide. “The testing of your faith produces endurance . . .” (James 1:3). The building of endurance requires the cooperation of the tested. I can suffer through this, merely surviving it, or I can be built stronger – choose to see faith grow.
God honors this desire. He speaks.
One of the first days back at preschool, Son becomes attached to a green inchworm on the playground. Upset by teacher’s news that Wormy must live outside, Son insists that we search for him after school. We do, but to no avail. Because his emotions are so close to the surface, Son bursts into tears and cries all the way home.
I know the inchworm is not the real issue.
And because the inchworm is not the real issue, I am angry. I lash out at God – “Why, Lord, do even the small things in our lives have to upset so greatly right now? You who number hair on heads and sand on shores, who know thoughts from afar, why would you not let us find a simple inchworm at a time like this? Do you not care?”
I vent my anger over the insignificant, but I know that this, too, is not really about the insignificant.
Nothing is coming easily, and I am weary.
I park minivan, unbuckle car seats, unload children, unzip jackets . . . and freeze.
There, crawling on Daughter’s purple jacket is a tiny green inchworm.
The tears flow freely. They flow freely as I laugh and cry and cradle Wormy #2 and praise God in my garage for caring – for speaking His love through inchworms, for reminding me that He is sovereign over every detail. “For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it” (Job 33:14).
The inchworm reminds me, once again and in spite of my spiritual amnesia, that my God is personal.
He hears, He listens, He knows.
He will reveal Himself if I will only ask.
Isaiah told the Israelites then and tells me now that "the Lord longs to be gracious to you..." (30:18).
This trial is not my desire, yet in the midst of the terrible, my God longs to grace my life with him. Oh, that I would see it and take with outstretched hands. "Shall we take good from the Lord and not trouble?" (2:10).
I will take it Lord - I will take it all, if you will only continue to be gracious.