My husband became incapacitated soon after we moved in together, which was not in my plans. My plans had been that we would be a traveling gospel road show of sorts (the details were still vague).
Eventually I wrote a column about it for WORLD and heard from a few people who were actually encouraged by it; they also had had plans. It did not escape my attention that if trouble had not entered my life, these people would not have been encouraged.
In addition, I heard from people who encouraged me—like the former yacht captain who had married his beautiful chef and whose plans were altered when their 2-year-old son nearly drowned in a pool. The boy is now 18.
Here is an excerpt from another letter that encouraged me, an encouragement I would not have received otherwise:
“For three months I have been house-bound except for medical appointments. What joy there is in the pain I have been suffering in my back and left leg! For if it were not for the pain, I would not have learned what it is to be served instead of serving, my wife would not have gained the confidence in doing the things she always dreaded if I ever couldn’t do them, and my 20-year-old high-functioning autistic son would not have had the opportunity to mature in taking on many of my responsibilities. If it had not been for my pain, we would not have been able to share what the Lord is doing in our situation with so many people. If it had not been for my pain, several people would not have had the opportunity to share with us their concerns and be prayed for by us. If it had not been for my pain, my family and I would not have had the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. …”
Sometimes I still complain. But when I do that I am suppressing something that I know full well deep down: If I had gotten my way about life, there is no guarantee that in the end it would have worked out better for the two things I care most about—the advance of the kingdom and the salvation of my children. There are too many twists and turns in our four score years for us to confidently choose the hand dealt us. Look at Abraham’s nephew Lot. He gets first picks of the land and ends up hightailing it out of smoking Sodom a few years later. Who is to say the kingdom would be more advanced and my children more likely saved if I had lived a conventional life?
In a cool Star Trek episode Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock enter a time machine to the 1930s where Kirk falls in love with an anti-war activist named Edith Keeler. Spock soon realizes that Keeler is destined to get hit by a car and die, and Kirk struggles with his desire to prevent it. In the end the space travelers decide not to tamper with history: If Keeler had stayed alive, she would have been successful in keeping America out of World War II—and Adolf Hitler would have taken over the world.
We just don’t know what God knows. Better to let Him do things His way when things look perplexing in the middle.