Through the Hard to Reach the Better
by Jennifer Slattery
A Note to Readers:
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You know that saying “be careful what you wish for?” It applies to prayers as well. There’ve been times when the reassurance that God works all things out for my good hasn’t been so reassuring. The summer of 2005 was one of the times.
Our daughter was young, we homeschooled, and my husband was our family’s sole bread winner. He was also incredibly busy. He works for the railroad in the locomotive maintenance department, and at the time, his territory included the entire Los Angeles basin—a total of four repair shops that employed 800, including four senior managers and a dozen regular managers.
The railroad runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which meant my husband did as well. If he wasn’t at work, he was either stuck in Los Angeles traffic or on his phone. Or traveling. Or lying on our couch, completely exhausted.
And I was lonely. So incredibly lonely. And utterly heartbroken. In many ways, I felt like a single mother, a single mother who longed more than anything to see her daughter and husband form a tight, close-knit bond. It wasn’t that my husband wasn’t a great father. He absolutely was—when he was home. But I wanted him around more!
One quiet, lonely day while waiting for our daughter to awaken from an incredibly long nap, I sat on the edge of our bed, and with slumped shoulders, bowed my head. “Lord, help us,” I prayed. I don’t remember what else I said. That might have been it, but God knew. And He responded, His gentle words sweeping through my heart:
Sometimes things must get worse before they get better.
And they did. But somehow knowing God was in the “tough” made it more bearable.
About six months after that prayer, my husband said to me, “I’m quitting my job.”
I blinked. Swallowed. “Okay.” My mind raced. “Where will you work?”
“I don’t know. Home Depot?”
That would result in a drastic pay cut, one we absolutely couldn’t afford. Not unless I went to work, and maybe not even then. Would I still be able to homeschool? What about our home? It wasn’t cheap to live in Southern California. His next response answered that question, but not in the way I’d hoped.
By now, my stomach was churning with such force, it’s a wonder I didn’t vomit on his shoes. “Okay,” I said again. I had a sense that God was doing something, though this awareness did little to calm my uncertainties. “Where to?”
“I don’t know. Pick a place.”
I didn’t respond to this, probably because I didn’t have a response. But also because I remembered my prayer and God’s words that quiet afternoon months before.
A few days later, once again as our daughter napped, I went outside to work in the yard. Plucking up weeds among the fragrant flowers, I poured my heart out to God. I wanted answers, to learn the game plan, reassurance that everything would be okay. What I received instead were my marching orders: Surrender.
God repeated this command numerous times in the months to follow, “Surrender.”
It was a turning point for me, and for our marriage. And it was a huge lesson on trust.
With clenched hands, and at times, gritted teeth, I obeyed. I surrendered, even when it meant selling our home and moving, quite literally, across the country. I surrendered yet again when, a year and a half later, we sold our house yet again and moved halfway across the country, then again a month after that, when we moved to the Midwest, all the while holding on to God’s words, spoken on that eerily quiet afternoon: Sometimes things must get worse before they can get better.
Today, I’m sitting on the “better” side, looking back on all God did through the “worse”. He strengthened our marriage, he deepened my husband’s bond with our daughter, and through it all, He provided, in ways I could never have anticipated. But more than that, He showed me that trust and surrender are always the best options. And for that, I’m grateful for the hard, for the uncertainty, because that’s when my faith was tested the most, and also the most strengthened.
What about you? Do you have a similar story to share? A time when God called you to surrender through the hard but later brought you to the better?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, because we can all encourage and learn from one another!
Ask a question, leave a comment, or share a story about a time the Lord has brought you through the "hard to reach the better" and you'll have a chance to win a copy. Don't forget to leave your email address!
(One winner will be selected by random drawing on 9/20/2015 from comments.)
About the Book, Intertwined:
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, shis fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn't take long to discover that their lives are intertwinted but the ICU is no place for romance...or is it? Could this be where life begins again?
Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher's contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer's novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!
About the Author, Jennifer Slattery:
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God's healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for www.Crosswalk.com, Internet Cafe Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte.
Photo credit: Peter Albrektsen DollarPhotoClub.com