God has an infinite number of ways he answers our prayers. There’s the gentle nudging or the still small voice whispering in our ear. Personally, I prefer God uses these methods to answer my prayers: it is more pleasant and, frankly, has less drama. Then there is the prophetic word uttered from a loved one—more confrontational yet still tolerable enough.
But then there is a catastrophic method of answering prayer. This is exactly how it sounds: prayer gets answered, but it takes the form of a broadside where God kicks our wheels out from under us until we find ourselves completely out of control, sliding sideways across the road toward a retaining wall. Everything becomes blurred. there’s a lot of screaming and shrieking. Occasionally, someone breaks out in a chorus of “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” Eventually, everything rocks to a stop, leaving behind a trail of bent metal and shattered glass. Clearly, this method is my least favorite, although I have a sneaking suspicion it is God’s preferred go-to.
November 10 was like any other typical November Friday. My wife and I had our birthdays to look forward to the next week. We share the same birthday and traditionally celebrate with a dinner out.
Even more exciting was a trip to Montana for Thanksgiving for a wild-and-crazy week with my family—undoubtedly the highlight of my whole year.
With so much to look forward to, this particular Friday morning was an active one, preparing my wife’s birthday present and heading to the store to pick up a carload of Christmas lights—never too early to get a start on the season.
All in all, it really was a wonderful Friday.
Until the telephone rang.
My wife was on the line. She had just come from a meeting that let her know that her job of ten years was over. Just like that. No more passing Go. She was a casualty of downsizing, so in an instant, the greatest portion of our household income went up in smoke. In moments, our life was chopped off at the ankles.
We are heading into a season of thanksgiving, hope and anticipation. However, instead of approaching this season with celebration, we found ourselves stumbling forward into it trying to keep our feet underneath us. It’s astonishing how sudden and complete chaos and uncertainty can pound life into a stupor. One minute—life as usual; the next—a fog of grief and panic.
The last two weeks have been in limbo. Life seems to be in a state of incompleteness and perpetual waiting. Everything is half-done, on hold, and discombobulated. Suddenly the immediate future looks to be extremely different yet entirely unknown. The darkness of uncertainly surrounded our house.
Yet today is Thanksgiving Day.
Today, we give thanks.
And, surprisingly, I am truly thankful.
I am thankful to our God, who amidst our wide swings of fear and sadness, has set my wife and I upon a solid foundation of peace within this storm. We truly believe God is somehow behind this and is preparing us for a dramatic life-change. More than once since receiving the news of unemployment, we have had to remind ourselves that we actually prayed for this. I have long been feeling antsy, restless. Over the summer, I had finished my second manuscript but instead of celebrating I fell into depression and became irritable, and I constantly reminded loved ones and friends how frustrated I was. I prayed to God in no uncertain terms that ten years of waiting is long enough — it is time for him to do something in my life. Interesting enough, my wife was struggling with the same feelings. And now God seems to be moving. I don’t know what the immediate future holds, but I am thankful.
I am thankful for the grace to walk through this chaos imperfectly. I want to have faith; I want to surrender my control; I want to not be afraid. Some days are better than others. But God’s mercy is constant. And I am grateful he cares for us the way he does.
I am thankful for our wonderful home community, who surrounded us when the news broke. They prayed for us, were present with us, and even helped us to be able to pay for this Montana trip, which by the way, also serves to prospect jobs. Our home community stood by us within our tears. Each week they teach me what love and life in community truly is, and this week they went far above and beyond the call of duty. They are as much a part of this journey as we are.
I am thankful to be a part of a great family gathering on Hauser Lake outside of Helena, Montana. I never grow tired of the laughter and love of family.
I am thankful for the colors and smells of autumn.
I am thankful for the majesty and beauty of wildlife as well as the scenery.
I am thankful for the anticipation of the Advent season.
I am thankful for a wife who clings to God alongside me in this time, who feels this same peace as me.
I am thankful that this peace of God is real.
This Thanksgiving, despite the storm in our lives, I can truly be thankful that God is good.