2001-2003 the Lord showed me that He is my Savior and God. I became a believer and was baptized in 2001 and very quickly felt called to some sort of ministry. The next two years, I was able to teach at a private-Christian school and serve with Mission Discovery in Mexico and Tennessee in the summers. It was an exciting time of learning what it meant to follow Jesus.
2004-2008 the Lord showed me that He is faithful. In 2004, I moved to Louisville to attend seminary. To be completely honest, I was totally unprepared. Unprepared theologically and financially. Yet the Lord was so kind to be faithful to his promise to guide me if I just trust him. During this time, he was faithful to provide jobs to support myself, provide the ability to "catch up" quickly in terms of learning theology, and eventually provided the desire of my heart to be a wife.
2008-2011 honestly were rather quiet years. I'm not exactly sure what the Lord was trying to teach me during these years. I was a recent seminary grad, a new wife, and returned to teaching in a classroom. I think the sheer busyness of life was overwhelming so I'm still processing that season in some ways.
2011-2013 the Lord showed that He is my provider. He miraculously provided the ability to conceive and deliver sweet Hudson. He provided amazingly through the generosity of his people lovely hand-me-downs for our sweet boy. He provided financially despite all odds.
Though we just started 2014, it seems that the Lord is somewhat (not so) gently ushering me into a period where I am to learn about his sovereignty.
Without going into too many details, I've had three rather major disappointments, for lack of a better word, in the past 2-3 months. These things (disappointments) are completely out of my control. No amount of my effort or the effort of others is really going to make a difference. I've done quite a bit of praying and meditating on this and can only come to the conclusion that the Lord wants me to trust in his sovereignty.
Sovereignty, to be simple, is God's ultimate control over everything (including my disappointments). Though the Lord can work through doctors, government agencies, friends, whatever to accomplish his will - if something is not his will no amount of efforts on the part of these forces will change anything. God is in control, it's that simple. And that should be a comfort.
Why is that a comfort? Reading a sermon on Jeremiah 32, Pastor John Piper says there are many reasons why God's sovereignty is comforting. Here are three:
1) God is God. Jeremiah 32:38 says, "They will be my people and I will be their God." This promise comes in the midst of a very depressing time for God's people. But he is their (my) God so all his wisdom, power, and love are for me.
2) God promises to change my heart. Psalm 34:4 states that if we "delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Repeatedly throughout scripture God promises to change our hearts - make stone hearts soft. The Lord is not "Santa" he's not going to give me what I want if I'm good. Rather he will change my heart's desires to align with what he wants for me. Rather, he changes my heart and its desires.
Jeremiah 32:39 says, "I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me always...I will put the fear of me in their hearts." This sounds like a scary verse - God will make us afraid of him. But it's not. During this time, the people of God were disobedient. Rather than sit idly by and wait to see if by some free-will of their own his people would return to him, the Lord is active in changing their hearts. Like the loving father that he is, he is going to make sure that through discipline, our hearts learn to trust and obey him.
3) God promises not to leave us. We are not orphans, left to navigate this world on our own. Rather we have a heavenly father who has covenanted with us to be our God, always, despite our unfaithfulness he will be faithful to us.
This is a comfort. My hope does not lie in anyone/thing else other than God who is in ultimate control of every situation - good, bad, and ambivalent. This is a lesson I'm continually learning.
Not grace to bar what is not bliss
Nor flight from all distress, but this;
The grace that orders our trouble and pain
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain.
-- Pastor John Piper