Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Short End of the Stick (02/20/14)
TITLE: The Learning Place
By Francie Snell
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I certainly hadn’t signed up for this wild ride, and who in their right mind would; maybe someone with the gift of martyrdom, but that definitely was not me. What about all of those wonderful promises I read about… about peace, prosperity, about rising up on eagles wings? Maybe they weren’t intended for me. Maybe I really was not His after all. I contemplated …and despaired.
All my hopes and dreams seemed ripped away. Repeatedly, I was cast into difficult situations , like a child thrown into water over her head, struggling in panic.
Depression had become my shadow that faithfully followed me throughout my days, as my requests to God went unanswered: The job and income I needed so badly, the alimony/child support that would help the four of us get through, acceptance for ANY line of credit, commitment from a man who I thought would be the love of my life. When I said “please”, it seemed God said “NO”. And so it was with me and mine, living in a dreary place.
The people in my life were the same, but our relationships changed. They seemed to fair so well, as I lived at the level of sheer survival. Our very different worlds began to separate us. I didn’t feel comfortable inviting them for very long into my darkness, colored in many shades of blue. I felt alone.
At the time, disadvantage seemed so unfair. Even so, looking back now, I see it was all for very good reasons. God taught me valuable lessons in the best classroom the world could ever provide - at the short end of the stick. The hardships made me grow…yes, each and every one of them, because the Lord lets nothing go to waste. And His timing is perfect, so I’ve asked myself, ”Would I REALLY have been responsible with the opportunities I asked for at that time?” and answer, “probably not.” Invariably, and with good intentions, I would have proceeded at creating a massive web of mistakes I would only be sorry for in the long run. However, I didn’t know that then.
And evidently, that was not His plan for me.
Jer 29:11 NIV“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Maybe scarcity can have its’ advantages. Maybe that is where the Lord limits our choices AND responsibilities for things we really are not ready for. Like a 10 year old requesting from his/her father, the keys to the car and the privilege to drive; what wise and carrying father would say “yes” to that?
“No, definitely not yet,” He would probably answer, as my Father did to my requests.
The youth might add, “Oh, that isn’t fair; you let Johnny drive!”
“Yes, but Johnny is eighteen and has passed the driving test. You, my little one, are just going to have to wait. I’ve got some things to teach you before you are ready for something like that.”
And so it goes with a father and a child: teaching, learning, waiting and obeying.
Disadvantage made me rise to challenges.
Setbacks made me plan for the future.
Sorrows made me more compassionate.
Loss made me appreciate what the Lord has given me, and what I still have.
In addition, I am finally catching on to this waiting thing - finally, and an appreciation for the word “NO”. It means I have just one less option to concern myself with-- one less responsibility on my plate. Not so bad when you love a life of simplicity like I do.
Therefore, I aspire to have the same mindset as the Apostle Paul when he wrote:
Phl 4:12-13 NIV: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
And this, I find, is learned at the short end of the stick.
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