Is it possible to trust God with problems and disappointments before you see them resolved?
During my senior year of college, a restless anxiety began to build in me. Graduation loomed, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. I overheard some sorority sisters talking about a ski retreat with a Christian group. The group was a bit more zealous in their faith than I was, but a ski retreat should be safe. And I needed a dose of inspiration.
I joined the group on an old school bus chartered to carry us to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As soon as we hit the mountain foothills it became obvious the bus was made for the flat lands of coastal Georgia. It sputtered, stuttered, and stopped.
The first time we halted, several students prayed while the bus driver worked to repair the bus. Their prayers sounded something like this:
“Thank you, Lord for being in control.”
“Thank you, for allowing this to happen.”
“Thank you, that you are working this out for Your purpose and our good.”
I’d thanked God before. But I thanked Him for things I was actually thankful for! Not for disappointments or when life wasn’t working out as I wanted. These prayers certainly grabbed my attention.
As we climbed steeper hills, the bus’s stops became more frequent. Its heater also quit working. My toes felt like the frozen snow on the side of the road. Each breakdown brought more prayers of thanksgiving. Finally, late into the night, long after the conference’s evening sessions had ended, our bus sat on the side of a dark highway broken-down—again.
Across the street sprawled a dingy motel we dubbed Cockroach Inn. When talk about staying there surfaced, I added my silent prayers to the others. “Dear Lord, don’t listen to these people! I don’t want to spend the night here. We’re cold, hungry, and tired. Please get us to the conference—tonight.”
The bus rumbled, and we were off. We tiptoed into our sleeping rooms so as not to awake the others.
Engaging speakers, joyful singing, and lots of fun made the weekend better than I’d anticipated. But what stood out most was the attitude of the students and staff both on the bus and at the conference. A guy lost his senior ring and didn’t fret. Who were these people who completely trusted God with their disappointments?
I’d begun attending church nine months before I was born. I knew Jesus as my Savior and that I was going to heaven when I died. But I lacked the calm confidence these students displayed. I’d never considered turning to the Lord with my day-to-day disappointments.
I came home thirsty to know Jesus better—not because of the wonderful teaching, great worship, or fun—though those didn’t hurt. I wanted to know Him better because of the peace these students showed during disappointment. They trusted God was at work in all things.
And they were right. Not only did God use that broken-down bus to make me thirsty to know Him better, He used it in many other students’ lives too. What felt like a big frustration ended up being the most memorable part of the conference for many of us.
Trusting God in the midst of disappointment is powerful. It brings us peace and provides a brilliant witness to an anxious world.
Do you have a problem or disappointment weighing on you? What might happen if, by faith, you chose to thank Him for it before you see how He’ll use it?
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NIV).