Words of Hope: What time is it?
My daughter traveled to Melbourne for her college roommate’s wedding. She left the afternoon of Christmas Eve because flights were astronomical any other time. She was delayed and missed flights and ended up with four days of travel, a frustrating experience to be sure. After hours of delay in Spokane, her first leg of the journey, she finally touched down in Denver. The family next to her learned due to the delay, they would not be able to catch their next flight and would have to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Denver far from their home. Their four-year-old child started to sob, “But I want a real Christmas. I don’t want to wait. I want to be home on Christmas morning.” The entire plane chuckled with empathy. Everyone wanted to be somewhere other than stuck on a plane stranded in a place that was not their home.
Feeling frustrated, harassed, overwhelmed, especially on days we plan to be meaningful can rob us of our joy. Unfulfilled expectations can plague us. I had a moment of this myself. I was making fried chicken for the family. My marinated chicken in buttermilk leaked over the countertop into the silverware drawer and down the side of the cabinets and floor. Then a pipe broke in the house sending a flood into the laundry room and garage. I had to turn off the water to mitigate the flood. No water to clean up the chicken. To make matters worse, the plumbing company could not come for five days. It’s almost comical how inconvenience compounds inconvenience.
As soon as all these abnormally challenging situations happened, I knew immediately something important was coming. When difficulties that are abnormally challenging surround me, this is a direct signal to start praising the Lord. It is very tempting to get upset, sad, and irritated. It’s easy to let a small comment that may or may not be snarky become grounds for an affront. Instead, I choose to stop and pray. I learn to say thank you in hardship and count my blessings. These blessings can happen so quickly. The first place I called said the repair would have to be scheduled out five days. Praise the Lord. I call the next place and they can send someone right away. They cannot open the dry wall. Praise the Lord. Hey look, there is a spot that will work. The chicken spilt all over the floor. Praise the Lord. It tasted amazing all the same.
I experience this repeatedly. When I choose frustration, sorrow, irritation, and effrontery, my problems cascade. When I choose to praise the Lord, solutions come and even when they don’t the experience is so much better. We say now during difficulties, “Isn’t this exciting?!” Dad taught me to live the discipline of gratitude in difficulty. It is a hard lesson and much easier to tell when the laundry room is not flooding or when the dog is not trying to lick up the raw chicken buttermilk which we all know will not come out well in the end. It’s a split-second choice—frustration or gratitude. Dad used to ask the athletes at NBC Camps, “What time is it?” When the string of unfortunate events started, I could hear his voice asking me, “What time is it?” “Hey Dad,” I thought in my mind, “It’s gratitude time. It’s the exciting time to praise the Lord.”
“That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in difficulty, in insults, persecutions, weaknesses, hardships and troubles. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10