Since moving to Florida in June we have experienced a lot of rain which we are told is abnormal for this time of year. Low lying areas are flooding, yards are saturated with water, frogs are barking like crazy. The place we moved from has had a month of beautiful sunny weather which we know is abnormal because we used to say it was a good summer when we got one sunny, 70 degree day and Kodiak residents have had so many they have lost count. Some people are praying for rain! Our son and daughter who live nearby with their three kids are awaiting a trip to China to adopt their fourth, a little girl. It's a blessed event about to happen. Yet, there have been setbacks, obstacles, mounds of paperwork, and unseen costs as well as the seen and prepared for ones. While they are waiting for the green light to go to China they have been busy dealing with a whole slew of other setbacks, obstacles and unseen - and unprepared for - costs. This week their 20 year old central air conditioning unit died. The replacement comes with a financing plan. In the midst of the unpleasantness of living in unconditioned Florida summer air where one wakes up to 75 degrees of mugginess, the flu struck and the sewer backed up due to the monsoonal rains (get the picture - intestinal flu and unusable toilets). A few months ago our son bought a house from a man at his church who was going into assisted living. It seemed like a good deal for both parties until our son began remodeling the bathroom and found termites and then more termites and then the good deal became a complete house remodel which has taken every spare minute of his time when he is not at work. A couple of years ago he moved his growing family out of their nice new but smallish home into an older but bigger one (the one with busted a/c and backed up septic system). This was in the middle of the burst housing bubble so rather than sell the first home for a big loss he rented it out (this is the cat pee house I have blogged about). So, setting aside the remodel of the third house, our son and us and one other son replaced the flooring and did other sundry tasks to get the first house livable again (so we could move in). If you are getting the picture this is about the time someone wonders Why is all this happening? Our son is a good guy. He is not trying to cheat anyone. He goes to church regularly and even leads worship there. He was trying to help out a guy from his church who needed to get out of his house. He and his wife want to take in an orphan which follows a Scriptural teaching. Needless to say, they are a praying couple. In the midst of all of this, neither he or she has asked that question which I have wondered about, although they may have thought it (if they have I don't know). I do know from years as a pastor, it is a common question at times like this. It goes like this, Why is God testing me? Or What is God saying in all of this? Or maybe what does God want me to learn from this? And then there is the advice given at times like this by well intentioned Christian friends, Remember God will not give you more than you can handle, which is hardly comforting when you and He are clearly not on the same page about how much you can handle! And the unwelcome thought occurs, I wonder how much God does think I can handle! Is it up for discussion?
I was reading Psalm 4 this morning. I do find God gives a word for most times in our lives. It seemed like He did for today. Verse 4 says, there are many that say, O that we might see some good! The news lately has been so difficult I told our son when the Starbucks barista offered him a free cup of coffee this week (of course, it was the last cup from the bottom of the pot) that at least there was some Good News! Verse 7 says, You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I took that to mean that Life Happens and things go on that we have no control over but don't confuse God with Life. He still puts gladness in our hearts. I get that: the joy is Independent of the other stuff going on in our lives. Later verse 8 says, I will lie down in peace because I trust in You. That peace is a good thing that comes in the midst of troubles. It is something we can count on when it seems we can't count on much else.