This past fall I was giving two of my best friends a tour of some of the beauty of the Ring of Kerry in western Ireland. It is an area known for gorgeous views and narrow roads. We meandered and wandered all day, stopping for picnics and pictures, enjoying the beauty–mostly in isolation, save the sheep and the other odd tourist. It was only as we arrived back in Killarney that one friend felt something off–and sure enough after we had pulled in and parked at our B&B, we saw that one of our tires was now completely flat.
As it happened, there was a tire repair shop only three minutes down the street. We walked down, had the repairman come back, put some air in the tire, bring it to his shop, and repair it for us. It was so convenient and easy! It seems there had been a nail embedded in the tire for a while and it had only come out at the end of our drive. (This was after three days of a lot of driving). We were so thankful that it hadn’t happened in the middle of nowhere, leaving us stranded–and we had been so close to the tire shop. Wow, thank you Jesus! Thank you for taking care of us! Right? But…
Couldn’t you have just prevented the nail from causing the flat tire???
How often do I find myself asking that type of question? I see God’s faithfulness in the little things, His provision in hard circumstances, and yet, I wonder why I am here in the first place? As I wrestled with this question, I realized that my starting point was off. My assumption often is that God should be preventing all bad circumstances from happening to me. He could easily stop a nail from going in a tire. It would have saved me a bit of a hassle and cash, but He didn’t.
Believing that God’s favor or blessing on us always results in favorable circumstances is not only unbiblical but destructive – leading to a lifetime of disappointment, disillusionment and ultimately hardness of heart.
When we operate on the concept that we deserve good things, then we are thrown off when God doesn’t “hold up His end of the bargain” and we are stripped of gratitude and the ability to see his hand of mercy in our lives. In actuality Jesus told us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He doesn’t say, “You will have problems, but I will take them away.” No, His promise is greater than that. He has overcome the world. We see how he overcame sin and death on the cross (much bigger feats than the prevention of flat tires).
Flat tires, broken bones, and leaky roofs are small reminders to us of a broken world. Broken relationships, death of loved ones, war, and natural disasters are bigger reminders to us of a broken world. It’s easy to narrowly look at these things and wonder where God is, or blame him on us being stuck in a hard spot.
I have found that I need to stop asking why I got the flat tire, remember that I live in a broken world that’s not as it should be, and believe that I have a redeeming Father who is actively engaged in loving His children, whether that is shown in His provision of a nearby tire shop, bringing physical healing, or allowing me to journey through seemingly impossibly hard things. God’s goodness and love can be clearly demonstrated to me in both the hardship and the rescue if I am willing to trust in His sovereignty in my life. Thankfully, in the midst of the good and bad, we can take heart as we have not been left alone as we stumble along. The one who has overcome the world, journeys not only alongside but inside me as I slowly grow in this faith journey. One flat tire at a time.
Photo sourced from Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
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