Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
2:00 am Trouble
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ” John 16:33 (NIV)
“No, no, no, no… no!” yelled Todd, awakening me at 2:00 am from my Nyquil-induced slumber. In an instant, adrenaline flooded my body and I was up out of the bed in the darkness trying to figure out what was going on. I followed the sound of Todd’s voice to the newly renovated second-floor master bathroom outside our bedroom, barely noticing the warm water under my feet as I tried to flip on the light. “The breaker tripped,” he yelled, pushing past me in the dark, bolting to the basement to shut off the water. A few moments later, the light came on revealing water everywhere. The newly installed valve under the sink had malfunctioned and burst, flooding months and months of Todd’s hard work. We swiftly grabbed every towel available and began trying to sop up as much water as we could to save the new floors and baseboards if possible. Once the immediate water issue was addressed we made our way to the first floor to assess any possible damage. Water dripping from inside the hall closet door frame was not a good sign. Quick, slingshot prayers darted in and out of my thoughts as we cleaned, begging God to let the damage be minimal, but the situation was not good. After all the visible water was addressed, we simply stood staring at the ceiling, wondering what lay hidden that we could yet see. By now, it was 4:00 am, so we decided to go to bed and begin the hard work of removing the ceilings first thing in the morning. What a punch in the gut was this 2:00 am trouble. We had not yet begun renovations on the first floor, so the next day, having to rip out the ceilings in the hallway, guest bedroom, and bathroom, though not ideal, was not as awful as it could have been. A small win I guess. Todd took on the brunt of removing the ceiling, insulation, drywall, and plaster as I worked from home counseling clients that day. In between my sessions, I would check on him and we would briefly lock eyes, revealing to each other the deep sense of sadness and confusion we both felt over what had happened without even speaking. In the big scheme of things, the whole situation could have been a lot worse. Plus, God had woken Todd up before everything was destroyed, so why were we so perplexed? There is of course the extra time and money lost repairing the ceiling, but it is more than that, so much more. You see, this season unlike any other to this point has been one of absolute surrender by us to God. We have both walked away from careers and the stability they provided to position ourselves for me to finally complete a writing project God called me to many, many years ago. While I always try to be real and authentic, this project has brought about new levels of authenticity and has been emotionally exhausting. It’s good but harder than ever anticipated. As I near the end, I have felt the enemy's fiery arrows coming harder, faster, and more intensely than ever before. Sometimes they are piercing my thoughts; leaving me questioning what I’m even doing in this season, still, I keep pushing through. Other times they are piercing the ones I love, trying to destroy months of hard work, and I am angry. These situations are harder to endure, as I feel somewhat responsible. A few weeks have now passed and a deeper realization surrounding all my anger and sadness has come. The truth is, I am not surprised by the enemy attacks at this stage of my project. I have no idea what God will do with it, if anything, but I believe the enemy hates my obedience which makes sense to me. His nature is to steal, kill, and destroy as Scripture reminds us, so he is just being faithful to his cause I guess. What I forgot was the truth Jesus shared in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” I know it is true that no one is insulated from trouble in this world because they follow Jesus but sometimes I simply forget and want life to be easy. I want to believe that if I follow Jesus faithfully he will grant me a pain-free existence with little to no trouble, especially if I am doing the things he asks of me. The truth is, that kind of life, this side of glory, doesn’t exist. And so, I am left with a choice. Will I continue to trust in God’s goodness even though trouble has come or will I grumble and complain about his lack of protection in this season? Though it is hard, I will trust him, clinging to the words of the Psalmist…
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5 (NIV)
For Your Reflection… Times of trouble are hard, but even more so if we think God has abandoned or betrayed us. Spend some time today reflecting on God’s goodness towards you in seasons of trouble. Where have you seen his faithfulness even in hard times? It is there, ask him to reveal it to you if you are having trouble finding it.