“I want to speak with your manager,” I said a little too loudly as I stood in the check-out line of the retail store facing off with the young clerk. When the manager arrived, I explained again that the child’s board book I had purchased a month earlier was missing the punch-out dolls in the back.
The manager patiently explained the return policy again–thirty days with a receipt. My thirty-day limit had passed, but I had hoped that they would see the defective item and want to help me. Pointing at the book, I emphasized, “This store sells defective items. They should refund it!” She shook her head, unmoved. Exasperated, I turned to the Christmas shoppers lined up behind me and said, “This store sells broken merchandise and won’t refund it!” The customers looked nervously away, avoiding eye contact with me, no doubt thinking this lady has lost her mind!
Frustrated, I pushed the cart with my two preschoolers out of the store, toting my defective merchandise and dragging my deflated pride. I was still angry when I loaded my children into the minivan parked near the entrance and walked my cart to the side of the building. A few feet away, I shoved that cart hard against the stone wall. It crashed loudly and spun crazily. I yelled to a couple in the parking lot, “This store will rip you off! Be careful!” Satisfied that I had adequately warned them, I climbed into my minivan and and drove off.
Two stoplights later, I replayed the situation and thought about my bad behavior. Suddenly, laughter bubbled out. I wasn’t really angry about an nonrefundable book. I was angry at God! I felt ripped off, but not by a retail store. Eleven months earlier, my family had moved from Indiana to Colorado. Reluctantly, we left the church we planted and the neighborhood we loved. Making friends in Colorado had been challenging, and now, we would spend our first Christmas away from family.
That’s not how I had wanted my life to turn out. God hadn’t answered my prayers the way I thought He should. Could I really trust Him? When I am confronted with hardship or unexpected change, that question plagues me. All I can do is to hang onto the hope that He can be trusted. Whatever your circumstances today, I hope the words of this old hymn–updated by Kari Jobe–help.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.