By Julia Gervais
I’m a practical person. A realist with pessimistic tendencies, perhaps? With such an outlook, life can feel weighted down at times, so I’ve decided to shift gears. It’s been a long time coming.
For one of my sons, the coin almost always lands on tails-ever the pessimist. His present is never as good as what’s looming on the horizon of the future, no matter how remarkable or enjoyable his present condition. And if what he is doing now is not on his list of most amazing, well, consider the whole situation a complete catastrophe!
On one occasion, we had planned an exciting family excursion. We were in the Caribbean, so zip lining in the rainforest provided the ride of our lives and the most spectacular views. This boy is built for speed; extreme sports is his thing! The driving age in the UK needs to be reviewed-25 sounds good to me. Just before taking the penultimate zip, the stuntman (aka my son) piped up, ‘Mommy can we go quad biking tomorrow?’
‘We haven’t even finished zip lining and you’re asking about tomorrow!’ They think time and money grow on trees. ‘Are you having fun?’
‘Yes mummy, but tomorrow…’
That was my cue to zip to the next platform. I was in total shock, thank God for the harness.
I knew that the half-empty cup syndrome couldn’t carry on, it was draining. God gave me just the antidote. Shortly after, I’m not sure exactly when, I was reminded of a song my grandmother sang when I was a child. This became our Friday evening vespers theme song (and it still is) – When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. During worship we took turns to share a blessing after each chorus, eventually we began to see far less negatives as we highlighted the positives. It wasn’t an instant fix, sometimes I’d hear something like, ‘thank God for taking me zip lining even though I didn’t get to go quad biking.’ On many occasions I’ve had to remind him to stop before the ‘but’. It’s work in progress, he’s learning to look on the flip side..
The story of Joseph, found in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-45 comes to mind. His father Jacob, openly showed him preferential treatment, which angered his brothers. When the opportunity presented itself, they sold Joseph into slavery. The devil used Joseph’s brothers for his evil purpose, but, ‘the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man,’ Genesis 39:2. His master, Potiphar, made him overseer in his house. Again the devil found another pair of hands for his evil schemes -Potiphar’s wife. Joseph landed in prison. God rescued him from that seemingly hopeless situation and placed him on higher ground. Considering all the challenges Joseph faced: being hated by his brothers (jealousy), sold into slavery (isolation) then imprisoned (lockdown), one would have expected hatred and revenge. Yet in the end, he was able to say,
‘Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, because you sold me here: for God did send me before you to preserve life…So now it was not you that sent me here, but God.’Genesis 45:5-8
How was Joseph able to look on the flip side, even though his coin landed on tails? God was with him. He had taken the time to build a solid relationship with God, in the good times, in times of ease and plenty. So when he faced hardship, he knew where to go, rather he knew where to remain. We can still find God even while facing adversity.
‘You will seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.’Jeremiah 29:13
So here we are travelling the all too familiar road; National lockdown AGAIN! Look on the flip side:
They think they have put us on lockdown…God says,
‘…look up and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is drawing near.’Luke 21:28
They think they have restricted our movements…God says,
‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’2 Corinthians 3:17
They think they have isolated us…God says,
‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Hebrews 13:5
They think they have put us on furlough…God says, come work with me,
‘…the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.’Matthew 9:38
They think we will buckle under financial hardship…God says,
‘Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it…your Father knows that you need them…seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’Luke 12: 29-31
‘My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches.’Philippians 4:19
You may be thinking, I can’t do this again, my life is over…God says, hold fast till I come.
‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’Isaiah 40:29-31
You will be able to see the flip side as you trust God.
Dear Father, thank you for always being there for us. Help us to trust you even when we can’t see clearly, in Jesus’ name amen.