The brightly colored church playground equipment stood stable and strong against the backdrop of the setting sun. I had just dropped off my son Jon at “Fun Zone,” our church’s monthly respite program for families with special needs. It’s four enormous hours of fun for the kids—four extraordinary hours of renewal for caregivers.
I slowly passed the playground and was greeted by a swell of emotions; yellow swings, red ladders, climbing bars, and tiny tunnels—usually smothered with Sunday school kids—were empty, still, and silent. I stopped and wondered once again what the language of tears was trying to say.
Jon has never played on that playground because it’s built for “typical” kids. However, he’s had plenty of play time elsewhere. Jon hasn’t gone to summer and winter camp with the typical kids, but he’s had adventures with his family. Then I realized the tears weren’t about playgrounds or campgrounds; they were about continuing to release what I had expected, what I had planned, and how I envisioned life for my son.
How Life Is “Supposed” to Be
Expectations are those hopes, beliefs, dreams, plans, and desires we have about life . . . the way life is supposed to work. But as life unfolds and as God allows, the unexpected happens and things fall apart.
Who expects . . .
- The loss of a child?
- A heated divorce?
- A suicide?
- Financial ruin?
- Poor health or the incurable disease?
- Betrayal or injustice?
- Mental instability?
- The closing casket?
After situations like these, life is blurry for a while. Extreme emotions burst in on us. We question what we were once so certain about. And we get easily distracted, ending up feeling distraught, tired, angry, bewildered, fearful, anxious, lonely, despairing, empty, and worst of all . . . hopeless.
Sometimes God doesn’t seem like a present help or loving Father, which can be the most confusing part of all.
You Have to Believe There Is a Purpose
With empty hands and broken hearts, there is purpose in it all. If nothing else, you have to believe there is purpose in it all. It’s not possible for God to fill your hands if they are already full of your plans; it’s His plans that are good and right.
As the storm passes, we begin to see more clearly His providential care over us. This movement through pain to clarity marks the process of transformation—the process of releasing our will and accepting His ways. Perhaps you need to be reminded that God is good and you are in His care. He is giving you what only He can give. For example:
- He changes our character (Matthew 5:4–11)
- He gives us peace (John 14:27; Romans 5:1)
- He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9)
- He provides His strength (Isaiah 40:31)
- He humbles us (Proverbs 16:18–20)
Let Me Hear from You
I turned to make my way home and saw the playground in the shadow of the setting sun. It’s okay that Jon won’t play on that playground or camp with the high school kids. God is our peace, our strength, and our hope. His ways are right.
- How is God shaping your character?
- Are you having to release your expectations?
- Do you have someone who’ll listen?
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