Trish Pauls | When Life Disappoints | Friday, August 7, 2020

There is a story I like to tell myself about how life is supposed to turn out. Where everything is good and fun, and the world is normal. This is a place where I can veto anything bad from happening and feel very certain about how things will turn out. This is a place I want to live in, not just vacation there. Let’s face it, this year has shown that life doesn’t work that way.

The year started like the dream for me, I was married at the end of December and was still on my honeymoon when January 2020 began.  We were excited about the future and what it would contain.  Then COVID-19 hit Canada and the uncertainty of what life would look like started creeping in. There were questions about whether my business would be able to hold on till we could reopen, and questions from my employees about how it was going to affect them. Then, during the middle of the worst of the social isolation, I received a call from a hematologist telling me that I had been moved up the waitlist and I could have a phone consultation. I didn’t even know my doctor had referred me to a specialist and now I was dealing with the possibility of leukemia. It felt like my world was falling apart.

Where could I go? Church was inaccessible, and friends and family were only online or through a phone call. Even though I have a loving and supportive husband, it felt like there was not anywhere for us to turn and the world was crumbling. I wanted to cry but even that felt difficult because I needed to be strong for those around me and there really wasn’t a good place to do it as my house felt too crowded.

As I was sitting in my chair in the corner of my room, I opened my Bible and it landed on Psalms 23. I was surprised when that was where it opened to as I thought God would show me some new verse that I hadn’t already learned to guide me through this darkness. Then I read the powerful but short psalm again.

Psalm 23 NIV

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.  Your rod and your staff they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

The first word that struck me was “my”. God is mine not some impersonal being that just sits up in the heavens and looks down from afar. He is here, He is personal, He is mine.  Then the verses go straight into my problem area, wanting to have control over my own life and the outcomes.  But that isn’t what this passage says.  It says He makes me, He leads me, He restores my soul. Then it struck me, I have been trying to take over God’s role!

I learned a few things about sheep through studying this and sheep aren’t able to do much of anything for themselves. They can’t even bathe themselves and need to be completely taken care of by their shepherd. Since God doesn’t make mistakes, utilizing this analogy must be very important. God didn’t make me capable of controlling events, pandemics, the future, or my own health.  What he did make me capable of is following His lead no matter how life turns out. But He doesn’t just leave me there in my pain and worries, He promises that He will restore (another version uses refresh) my soul.

Refreshes and restores - what beautiful words. They both bring hope and light to me as it suggests a place that is relaxing, peaceful, where I can be renewed. In the midst of a society which totes self-care as a personal responsibility, the truth is that restoring myself is not part of my job description from God, it is part of His role. Even having that responsibility removed brings a lightness and joy as God can do a much better job at it than I can.

The passage continues to talk about the bad stuff that comes in life. The promises keep coming as I do not have to fear the evil that comes because God will protect, bless, and has even reserved a place in His house for me.  This psalmist reminds me that God has everything under His control.  The only thing I am responsible for is to follow Him, through the pains and the joys of this world. When I allow Him to take control of my life, peace and hope are renewed.

Even though my health issues resolved, the uncertainties in life will continue. As I write this, I just found out that my brother-in-law’s parents have COVID.  But, the difference is now I’m learning to tell myself a new story, one that doesn’t create a world where I plan for a certain future and bad things don’t happen; but, rather one where I trust that God is in control and He will take care of me.  I hope you will take a moment to read Psalm 23 for yourself to see where God is leading you.

Trish Pauls Bio:  Trish moved to London two years ago and started attending Summerside Community Church with her finance, John, who she married last December.  Previously, she lived all over Canada and the US - as far north as Nunavut and as far south as Texas, as far west as British Columbia and as far east as Nova Scotia and places in between.  Trish is a small business owner and enjoys learning people’s stories.  She is passionate about actively seek the will of God and enjoys volunteering in the community.