A mother hands a child a coat as he prepares to head out the door. You’re going to need this, she says, it’s cold outside. Another time, she hands the child an umbrella. You’re going to need this, she says, it’s raining out and you’ll get wet if you don’t open it as you step off the porch.
The child might dutifully accept the coat or the umbrella; he might also be trusting her judgment; in addition, he might be reflecting and acting on past experience.
Whatever the case — obedience or experience — in the coat or umbrella scenarios above, the external conditions are present and so it’s really quite simple to accept the coat for the present cold or to accept the umbrella for the present rain as these two situations can be either presently felt or presently seen.
Sometimes we don’t understand why we’re being handed something.
We receive unanticipated work and, thus, more income than we would normally have. Accustomed to less, we might wonder, Why we have so much more? We delight in our “windfall” and dream of the different things we want to get. And then… an appliance breaks or a vehicle needs a new transmission or a tooth cracks and needs a root canal and crown. We feel surprised that we have just the right amount of money needed to cover the repairs! We then remember we were handed something we were going to need.
Other times, we’re handed an experience or many experiences and we might ask or cry or even complain, Why is this happening?
The first days of running or dieting or learning a new skill sometimes seem so arduous — so impossible! Most of us give up or what to quit in the face of such difficulties. Then, someone comes along — say an experienced runner — and he says, don’t quit; keep going… you’re going to need this for the steeper parts of the road.
Sometimes we’re handed illness or tragedy or sorrow and we think, O, can’t do this, I cannot handle this — I just can’t do this — this is too hard for me. We want to turn away from the problem — we want to run from it because looking at what we think we’re able to do, we can’t see our way through. And then, by the grace of God, we see a little beyond what we see.
As we continue to walk with the Lord, as we continue to trust in His Word, we grow… we grow in grace, we grow in wisdom and strength and we grow in trust that He *is* with us — He *is* for us and He really does do all things well. Not that He will answer or provide or guide in the very same manner He has in the past, but simply: He will answer.
Each situation we face, each heartache that comes, each sorrow that washes over us, each disappointment, each failure, each loss — each thing can be a blessed experience that reminds us of God’s dealings with us in the past — as if He handed us something and said, You’re going to need this. We may not understand why at the time, but down the road a bit, we’ll see…
We’re so tempted to measure a situation by what we can see — not by what God’s got planned or by what He’s doing. He is our refuge — we can trust in Him. He is our strength — we can lean on Him. He is our very present help in trouble — we can accept what He hands us. Even when — especially when — we can’t see the storm ahead, we can take the coat of His salvation and the umbrella of His Holy Spirit that He hands us, saying, You’re going to need this.