Thursday, July 29, 2010

"All of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions, eclipsed by glory"

There have been moments over the past few months when I have felt so helpless.

Though we've never had much money, Isaac and I have never struggled as much financially as we have the last few months.  I'll just say that our usual graduate student budget has been completely blown by a combination of $1500 of car repairs, and the stinking American medical/insurance system requiring us to pay for our baby hospital delivery bill (which is fully out of pocket) in monthly payments before the birth. There is no way for our budget to handle it, and so these days we pay our bills and have no idea how the rest of the month will turn out.

This week Isaac and I have wrestled with the fact that the nonprofit he works for has lost funding, and we don't know if he'll have work in the Fall. Then I took my car in to be checked because the AC has been out. They quoted me a $1300 repair bill, and thus I face the rest of the hot Texas summer with no relief. I came home feeling like crap.

It is a strange thing... to wrestle with the extremes of feeling helpless and ... well, "afflicted" (as my title refers to), but then at every turn to feel like I am seeing miracles.

The refugees I work with had a financial crisis when they got a nearly $2,000 phone bill by accident and it was sent to the creditors. Remember that story? It was craziness. It was also crazy watching what happened with it - it felt miraculous to me. One of you, dear readers, sent Tee Reh a check, as did a friend of mine here in Dallas. Together they left Tee Reh only paying the same as his normal monthly payment - and he and I marveled together in an amazing conversation about the body of Christ and about prayer.

This week, when our bank account was almost empty and more bills were pending, I came home and opened the mail. In 30 minutes we were holding four checks totalling an amazing amount, most of them surprise gifts from three precious people. I sat back in awe... when you struggle to trust God and to not obsess with worry, seeing bills miraculously paid is just... so humbling. There was no money, and then there was. Prayer, very directly answered.

I'm supervising a group of teachers headed to teach English overseas. We bought tickets together, and weeks later one found out that his ticket had remained pending and never went through. AA refused to help him, and meanwhile the ticket prices doubled. We had no choice, after days of haggling, he had to buy a new ticket and not travel with his group or his girlfriend. That night he and the girlfriend got online to buy the new ticket and checked the original AA flight right before buying. One seat opened up, somehow listed at the original price instead of the doubled flight. Bought, booked, confirmed. Amazing.

Far and away most amazing is that recently I saw someone move from atheism to belief and acceptance of Jesus as Lord. I've never seen that before. I've never actually seen a conversion. I've read about it and heard about it, but to see it.... to watch someone pray and weep over who Jesus is and what that means for their life.... wow. The thing is, there was no aggressive evangelism involved - quite the opposite. This guy pursued my friend with question after question after question about her faith, and one night found us and virtually demanded that someone tell him the full gospel, help him pray, show him what to read. It was so clearly NOT a human manipulation, so clear that it was something that was happening in his heart.

The morning before that happened and the morning afterward, my daily scripture reading was in Luke, and it was incredibly poignant to read in light of what was happening with this guy. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?.... Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?"

That guy - he was the lost sheep, he was coin. I got to watch the rescue operation. I got to watch the Father run to meet him.

That night, when I watched this guy weep and pray and see the blinding light of grace sweep truth and hope into his life, I sat back in awe and thought of this verse, "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."  And I thought of the response of the Father when He says, "Let us eat and celebrate, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found!"

And you know, to top it off yesterday I heard that a classmate of mine from college died - so young - from breast cancer. I was overwhelmed to read her blog, which showed that she didn't realize that she was close to death. Her last post brought me to tears. She expressed amazement that she'd made it through a week of helping with a summer camp without splitting headaches, and only realized how amazing that was after she'd to her home and a headache. She said:
To see now that I was able to rise above my own body's limitations and pain makes these verses from Isaiah very alive for me:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the end of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and his u​n​d​e​r​s​t​a​n​d​i​n​g no one can fathom.He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, the will walk and not be faint.

How poignant that those were the last things she wrote. She hoped in the Lord. She had no idea that in a week she really would have her strength renewed, she really would walk and not faint.

This dance of life is so strange. I am still human. When the budget is shot and the bills are due, that's still a situation I am in the middle of. When we're sick, broken, sad, hopeless.... that's real. That's life. It really does feel like a hurricane sometimes, like I am "bending beneath the weight of His wind".

But around the next corner... around the next corner I find that "I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me. Oh how He loves us!"

I really do feel overwhelmed these days, in both ways. Overwhelmed by life but simultaneously overwhelmed by grace and by God's care for me and for the people around me. Sometimes it is quiet. Sometimes it is miraculous.


Jaimie said...

This post made me cry. I am so glad about Tee Reh and the phone bill. I really did pray hard for that one. I will pray for your kid, and those bills, and Isaac's job situation.

Amy B. said...

This post had me in tears as well. Our life situations right now are just so incredibly similar! While we haven't gotten any $900 checks in the mail recently (would be nice!), God has provided us with large sums of money out of the blue in the past. And just this morning we experienced a very small but undeniable bit of divine provision, after a very difficult night.

Blah-dee-blah, all that to say: you took the words out of my mouth and re-said them even better. Amen!

The Bald Guy said...

The Good Lord has His own mysterious ways. He answers all prayers in His own time and his own way.

God bless you Kacie. I was wondering what happened to their phone bill.

And it's the same in India too, medical insurance does not pay for deliveries. Sucks, doesn't it?

Rae said...

Great post.

I so identify with your last paragraph. But... I really, really struggle with seeing God as the Provider. I grew up being taught that more than just about anyone I have ever encountered, and I have a great example in one of my older sisters, but it is so very difficult for me to really believe that I do not *need* anything which God has not already given. And so it is hard for me to be gloriously thankful for what is given, because I am fairly cold in this area.

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Paul Jansen said...

Thank You Kacie, I stumbled across this blog and it touched my heart. I was pondering how we get caught up in not only the business of surviving day to day, but in our troubles as well. We forget, (a lot of times), to look to the "God of all comfort" when swallowed up with living and buried deep in burdens. Life does get EXTREMELY heavy sometimes, but we HAVE to remind ourselves how BIG our GOD really is, and that His Glory can eclipse all of our issues. We can stand comforted down to our very soul, its then we realize just how beautiful He is and how great His affections are for us. God is Amazing