By Beth Walker
Words can unintentionally tear a heart into two. For me, those words involved hearing other friends celebrate selling their homes. Two years into the process of trying to sell a house we had left behind for my husband’s job change, and I was in the process of evicting one renter and working out an agreement with a new one instead of negotiating a sale. This alone wasn’t defeating, but coupled with three calls from friends wanting to celebrate the victory of selling their homes had brought me to a dark place.
There was no end in sight to the merry-go-round of financial surprises, which were stressful because we were balancing a mortgage in one state and rent plus living expenses in another. Days turned into weeks, months, and then years of silence surrounding one specific prayer: Could we sell our house?
In her online study Be Still and Know, Rebekah Lyons says “You cannot see the unknown until you release the known . . . When we choose to trust God and rest in His timing and power, we find our peace and strength.” She goes on to say, “Being still gives us a chance to regroup and firmly fix our hearts, minds, and paths to God alone.”
For two years peace and strength were not in my vocabulary. I held my breath each month as the fifth passed without our renter paying. I pleaded for God to make this the month I didn’t have to chase down money. It felt like an extra punishment to have to ask for our rental agreement to be honored in addition to paying a mortgage on a house we no longer inhabited.
I fully believed God had the power to move to sell our house any day, but that belief became twisted into the thought that although God could move, he might be choosing not to because he desired to see our family suffer. This thought became a catalyst leading me to the lie that God was not for me.
Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” While many use this verse to bolster their courage, for me this verse was terrifying. With God against me, who would be for me?
I’ve participated in the One Word practice for a few years, and in the midst of this stressing time, God laid the word growth on my heart. He used this to teach me about his character, and just as Rebekah Lyons explained, I learned to release the known so I could understand the unknown.
The Bible recounts many stories of people who didn’t understand God’s agenda. Abraham didn’t think God would follow through on his promise to allow his wife Sarah to give him a child, so he had one with her slave (Genesis 16). Moses asked God to get someone else to talk to Pharaoh (Exodus 3). God never broke his promises to people in the Bible; he always came through, providing for and protecting them. As I focused on growth, God revealed that just like people in the Bible, I had a choice in how I responded to life circumstances.
I practiced growth by facing stressful situations I’d encountered previously and dealt with poorly. My first responses in previous months and years were rooted in fear and anger. This time I paused to pray first, seeking to respond in a way that would glorify God through my words and actions. In the process of inviting God into daily life, my heart softened, and I remembered that all of Scripture applied to me. He is always for me. He is always for you.
I have many more stories about learning to trust God in 2016. Throughout the year, my faith and obedience muscles were strengthened by repetition, because God stepped in every time and reminded me that he is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. God proved he could fight for me; he doesn’t need me to defend myself (Exodus 14:14). He also reinforced daily that he is my provider, and financial hiccups don’t need to keep me awake at night (Psalm 34).
My faith muscles were strengthening for a reason. Our house still hasn’t sold. It has now been four years of waiting. Our family is in a season of transition once again. We have only a few weeks left of the salary from my husband’s former job, and nothing certain to move towards. Our marriage has never faced this much uncertainty, yet I have never been more confident of God’s love and care for me.
God knew what would transpire with my husband’s job, and he knew we would need to trust him more than ever before. God allowed me to see him move specifically in our family’s lives for months leading up to our current situation. He consistently responded when we asked for help. Now we know God is near to us. His power and peace are surrounding us, and we feel a deep sense of gratitude. I can celebrate my friends’ successes in the midst of the unknown, which for me is a sign of accurate perspective, born out of the growth he has given me.
Beth Walker is a football coach’s wife and mom of two energetic boys. She strives to encourage those around her to pursue their best lives in Jesus whether she is near the game field, in church, or at the local coffee shop. As a writer, Beth has been striving to find her voice through seeing Jesus in the ordinary and extraordinary of daily life. She blogs at Lessons from the Sidelines.
Photograph © Jaromir Kavan, used with permission