When someone is in pain or suffering, I usually try to help. I mean well, but I often bungle the job. I make a lot of assumptions about what they need, offer what I think is sage advice based on those assumptions, and then cap it off with Romans 8:28 for good measure. Then I pat myself on the back, thinking I have done my good deed for the day. However, that works only if my assumptions are right.
It’s easy for me to do this with God too.
When we first adopted, I assumed that the one who needed help was Anah. It made sense, right? Her orphanage was closing down, she would be displaced yet again, and she needed a stable home in order to thrive. It is so easy to believe we are the super heroes, swooping in to save the day. God said we were to help widows and orphans, and so I assumed this must be what His intentions are.
But the more that I reconnect with God, the more I realize that my assumptions are completely wrong. They are behind a lot of the problems I have with her slowness and her disability. I assume that she is a problem that needs to be fixed—and when she doesn’t respond, I get angry.
When I look at it this way, it betrays my prideful heart, as if I were her savior, that she has nothing to teach me. The more I rebuild my relationship with God, the more He is showing me that I am the one that needs her help—and sometimes far more than she needs mine.
It is humbling to admit that, but that is the point. I am not humble. If God opposes the proud, then no wonder I am having so much trouble! (James 4:6)
This surfaces another assumption about His nature—that because of my pride, I disqualify myself from His care. I assume I have been “too bad” to merit His love, so I have distanced myself instead of running to His arms of grace where I would find help. So I try to do things myself, which only makes things worse.
Clearly, I’ve got this all wrong.
God, in His grace, is all about setting false assumptions straight. I need to let Him write the story. I often am so tempted to do that job for Him. I assume that He would want what I want for myself: a comfortable life, being "good enough," and freedom to do as I wish. But no--He has a different idea. He desires that I be conformed to the image of Christ. (We quote Romans 8:28, but do we read the next verse?)
Realizing this afresh has been another huge turning point for me. In response to this truth, I am trying to cultivate a new habit. Every morning, before I go out to meet Anah for the day, I take some time to get back to the truth and pray: I need You, Jesus. Anah is Your good gift to me. I am here to help her, but she is also here to help me. Please grant me the grace of humility so I may learn from her. Some mornings I'm feeling it. But often times I'm not. This discipline then is crucial to reframe and reorient my posture before God so that I can love her well.
I still have my touchy moments, especially when time is short and she is moving like a slug. But God is teaching me something new: that when I submit to His story instead of insisting on writing my own, it will help me to handle these hard realities in a new way. Instead of being obstacles to fight through, every meal, routine, and interaction can potentially help me grow in my faith in God and in my love for Anah.
Father, You write far better stories than I do. Please show me how I can play the role in Anah’s life that You have written for me, that You may be glorified, that Anah be blessed, and that I may become more like Christ.