There are times I feel like my life is one disaster after another. I know I’m not alone, but it’s still not easy. Many of our bigger disasters have involved water—even though we live in a desert.
Earlier this summer we moved from California to Arizona. We had our house in CA up for sale and finally received an offer. We were ready to put in our counter-offer when our neighbor across the street in CA texted a picture of our house with water pouring out from under the garage doors.
Turns out a faulty hose broke in one of our bathrooms. This wouldn’t have been quite the debacle it is if we had still been living in the house and caught the water leakage right away. Instead, the water may have run out for a couple of days, reaching the whole house except for the back two bedrooms. The wood flooring my husband installed, some of it brand new, was ruined. The walls had to be cut down to the studs two feet up from the floor. What a mess.
We have good insurance, so when we traveled to CA recently, they put us up in a motel because the house isn’t livable while it’s being repaired. On the day we were checking out, I headed down to the car with my suitcase, computer briefcase and another bag. As I walked across the lobby toward the exit, some of the hotel personnel were coming inside. I could see the consternation in their faces and knew something had happened. As I walked outside, I noted the firetrucks and a taped off area. Then I saw the flames shooting up in the trees at the edge of the parking lot—about twenty feet from our van.
As the firemen sprayed water on the brush and trees, I raced to the van dragging my suitcase. Amazed they let me approach when the fire was so close, I threw open the doors, tossed my bags inside, hopped in and moved the car as fast as possible. Disaster averted, or so I thought.
My husband wanted to check the fluid levels before we began the long drive home. He raised the hood and called me over. An ant den must have been close to where we parked. Hundreds of the little ants were swarming over and around our engine. Hundreds!
By the time we drove to our daughter’s house, a few miles away, the ants were gone, or so we thought. On the trip home, I had several ants join me inside the car. I was glad the whole bunch of them didn’t find their way inside.
So, what is my first response to these disasters? If you remember, my word for the year is Thanksgiving. God has given me a multitude of opportunities to learn to be thankful in the past months. He’s taught me to remember to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thess. 5:16-18)
There have been times the only thanks I can give in a situation is to thank God for Who He is and for His love. That is enough. This time, I was thankful for the going to the car at the right time. For getting to move the van before it caught fire. For the firemen and their fast response. For those stinkin’ ants not biting me when they crawled on me. JFor peace over the whole situation. For a safe trip home. And the reasons to be thankful continue.
I’ve found that my reaction in a disaster is like a litmus test for my faith. My first response shows how close I am to God. Do I panic first? Do I get angry? Do I pray immediately? (Or at least pray as I run to move the car.) What is my first response? It should be one that always includes God and an element of thanksgiving. Even when the pipes break and the ants swarm. What is your first response?
I used to wonder what I’d done wrong, believing I was being punished. Sometimes, I was angry, feeling overwhelmed. Those still pop up first (old habits die hard), but they never last long as I’m learning that God isn’t punishing me. Life happens. Growing is difficult and painful, but God has promised He will never abandon me. I believe Him.