A Labor Day Lesson on Disappointment

It’s Labor Day and I’m sick. Not loosing your last meal in the commode sick. More like head full of concrete can’t breathe sick. I’ve tried every remedy I could find in our cabinet of over-the-counter promises, but no magic bullet.

I woke up early this morning, after a hit-and-run night of sleep. Restless and mouth-breathing, I got up to find my wife sleeping on the couch so as to not catch what might be the next big thing on the CDC’s top 40. She got up to go to bed and there I was. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t stop peeing from all the water I’m drinking to stay hydrated.

This is not the way I wanted to spend Labor Day. Why did I have to get sick now?

Sitting there in the deafening morning quiet of the living room, I did the only thing I really felt like doing. I grabbed my iPad Mini and started reading one of the books backlogged on my Kindle app. The book was “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined,” by Jonathan Merritt. It’s a book about encountering God in the places where you least expect Him. (Bet you see where this is going.)

Though I wasn’t expecting it, I was sucked into this book. Each finished chapter begged another. Then, amid my sniffling, snorting, and self-pity I came across these words:

“When I can’t hear God’s voice, I often assume that He has left me. Perhaps He is too busy, what with managing the world and all. I fail to consider that maybe God appears silent because I’ve not been listening. Or perhaps He seems absent because I have stopped looking.”

These words confronted my Labor Day disappointment like a good friend with their hands on their hips.”

So with crumpled-up tissues around my feet, I began to reluctantly look and listen for what I was missing. The revelations came slowly at first, but then things began to take shape…

  • Because I couldn’t breath, I was forced to get up early. At first, this might not seem like a plus; especially on a day when I didn’t have to go to work. But it gave me a chance to experience more of the day than I would have if I had slept in.
  • Because my wife went back to bed, I had to find something to do. There was no one from which to try to extract sympathy. This caused me to turn to something more productive.
  • Because it was early morning, there was nothing on TV I wanted to watch. This caused me to turn off the TV and enjoy something I rarely enjoy…silence. Though it was uncomfortable at first, it quickly became very soothing to me.
  • Because I was up early, by myself, in the quiet, I picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time. This book was not only pleasantly engaging, it spoke to me specifically and powerfully in that moment. This would have never happened if my Labor Day had gone as I planned.

Now I know my “Why do I have this head congestion?” pales in comparison to…

  • Why do I have cancer?
  • Why did they have to die?
  • Why did I have to lose my job?
  • Why did they divorce me?

These experiences, and others like them, do have one thing in common. They all invoke feelings of God’s absence or His ambivalence. They all make us feel like God had something better to do and took off, or worse…like God’s still there and He just doesn’t care.

But what if what appears to be lack of involvement is actually behind the scenes activity? What if what appears to be absence is actually giving you space? Don’t confuse invisibility with inactivity.

Again, in the book “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined,” Merritt says, “When I accept that God’s quietude may mean He’s up to something, it frees me to embrace rather than resist the experience.”

I needed a Labor Day lesson on disappointment. No, this was not the Labor Day I wanted, but perhaps it was the Labor Day I needed.

On another level…

We’re told in 1 Cor. 2:9 – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The ways of an infinite God will often seem mysterious to us, but remember that mysterious does not necessarily mean meaningless.

Is there something going on in your life that makes no sense? Is there something going on in your life that feels like God’s not there and you’re on your own? If so, try shifting from asking for answers to your problems to asking for an awareness of His presence. 

Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg



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