Neatly Wrapped Packages

I like my trials to end up in neatly wrapped packages. The specific formula I want those packages wrapped in is simple: “Trial + Lesson Learned = Comfort and Closure.” This allows me to wrap up my trials, set them on a pretty shelf where later I can look at them and say things like, “Oh yeah, that was the time I couldn’t afford tuition, but God intervened and I learned to trust him more.” Or, “Here’s the package where I was struggling to pass my classes, but God taught me how to learn from my failures and persevere.”

Now, I firmly believe scripture affirms that God uses trials for our good and his glory (Hebrews 12:5-11, Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4, etc.), and I can see some major ways that God has used trials in my life for fruit in his kingdom. For instance, my sister and I lost my mom to cancer when we were little, but through that circumstance our eyes were opened to the gospel. I cannot proclaim enough how many times I look at that trial, in all its beautiful wrappings and see joy in the midst of the pain and sorrow because of how much we gained by receiving Jesus. My mom received ultimate healing—redemption, justification, and glorification.

Other trials have been more difficult to wrap and put on the shelf. As an adult, I watched my father battle cancer for three painful years. It feels like just yesterday I was lying next to him in his bed whispering in his ear “Dad, if you’re waiting for me to say goodbye, I’m not. I’m just going to say, ‘See you later.” Days later, God swept him into eternity.

I can’t wrap that trial up, and it still breaks my heart how much I miss my dad. Yes, I’m sure I have learned a lot of valuable things through these past few years as a result of that trial, but I simply can’t find a neatly fitting package to place it in.

And maybe it’s because our trials don’t actually fit a formula and they can’t be wrapped and placed on a shelf.

Today, just three months away from my wedding, I am sitting across the hospital room from my best friend, the love of my life, my fiancé. His 27th birthday is next week, and the doctors just diagnosed him with cancer. Our worlds stopped.

Over the last twenty-four hours we have agonized and wept over that news and have experienced a myriad of thoughts and emotions. We are waiting to hear the biopsy results to confirm that he has CML, so he can move forward with pills that can fix what is happening in his body. As the dust settles for just a moment, my mind races ahead and wants to find how we can wrap this one up. What should we be learning? How do we fit this into a formula that makes sense to our hurting hearts and foggy brains? What is the “spiritual reason” we are going through this and how can that satisfy our souls’ longings for answers.

Why, God?

These questions reminded me of the book of Job. In the past, my greatest hang-up with reading Job is that in the end, he never really produced a neatly wrapped package to stick on the shelf. His cries of, “Why, God?” were answered with more questions. And today it hit me. God’s response (Job 38-41) may suggest that we are unable to wrap our trials in neatly wrapped packages because we can’t even begin to fathom the full extent what God is doing in the midst of our life’s stories. What we do know is that we can be expectant, hopeful, and joyful knowing that a sovereign God is working out our story (and all stories) in a way that ultimately tells his story of redemption for mankind*. To say that I can recognize, pinpoint, and “wrap-up” all the ways he is working in any given trial is simply arrogant or ignorant. Yet I keep trying to do that in order to provide myself with comfort and closure in the circumstances that I can’t figure out.

That is why instead of feverishly trying to make my trials fit a formula, I need to rest, and be ok without answers.

Rest, and feel, and cry, and bleed, and question…and let myself be comforted by the sovereign God who is working out my story for my ultimate good and his ultimate glory.

And that is far greater than a neatly wrapped package.

 

 

[If you would like to donate to Bobbi Jean and Ray’s medical expenses, please visit their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/yvptfqws  Thank you! -B+R’s GFM Campaign Creator]

 

 

*These are truths gleaned through the first sermon in a series we are working through in church. Check it out at The Church in DeKalb. 

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18 thoughts on “Neatly Wrapped Packages

  1. Bruce Bryan says:

    Bobbi – know that MANY are praying for you and Ray! We serve a wonderful and loving God and He will provide grace, comfort and guidance. There are so many reminders to cherish our loved ones on a daily basis. I am specifically praying for daily strength for you both and God’s healing miracle.

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  2. Cathy says:

    Dearest Bobbi, I can’t even begin to imagine your pain at this moment. What I am doing is praying for God to wrap his loving arms around you and comfort you and give you strength that only HE can give. You have been such a blessing for the last 10 years to our family that as you go through this trial, our prayers are with you. Praying you and Ray will come forth as Gold. Jeremiah reminds us to call out to God and he will faithfully will answer with things that we are can’t comprehend. What a wonderful promise! Love you!

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  3. Yes, neatly wrapped packages are so nice. But God working through our lives, for HIS ultimate glory, is a much nicer package. Some packages, we will never see the wrapping and bows until we sit at Jesus’s feet. Praying for you and Ray at this time. Knowing that your “package” has an ending, just maybe not one we will be able to see in this lifetime. But that is okay, because our God is sufficient for ALL our packages 🙂 All our love, the Mensiks

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  4. Kathryn Fehrmann says:

    Dearest Bobbi, Just finished reading your post. My heart hurts for you and Ray. I know that God is always in control of all things and He knows exactly how you are feeling. His love for you both are beyond our understanding and He is going to carry you thru the days ahead. He has chosen you two to walk this path to honor Him. Because of the Cross your trial will ultimately bring joy. I am praying that Ray will be healed of this and you will both be able to find rest in Christ.

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  5. lovely4x4 says:

    Bobbi, have you gone through Margaret Feinberg’s Fight back with joy Bible study? You remind me so much of her. Please keep writing. Love you. You are in my prayers. Xo

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  6. Kristi says:

    Let God comfort you in this difficult time and have faith in His power of healing! My prayers are with you and your fiancé’…blessings!

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  7. Brenda Strohbehn says:

    My heart was deeply touched by this post, Bobbi. Thank you for the generosity of spirit you demonstrated in sharing this news with all of us. Please know that I am already praying for you, Ray, and his medical team. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you'” (Isaiah 41:13, NIV).

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  8. Judy says:

    Tears come to our eyes and sadness to our hearts as we read this. Oh, Bobbi, how we will be praying! We love you and will trust God with you to work out his purposes for Ray and for you as well.

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  9. Sandy waight says:

    Lord, I pray Your healing mercies and extra energy and stamina for Ray. I pray for Your hand of wisdom and discernment on the doctors and specialists as they care for Ray and determine proper treatment. I pray a hedge of protection around Ray and Bobbi. Lord, hear our cries as we pray Your perfect will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the mighty name of Jesus!

    Bobbi and Ray, lifting you up at the Throne of Grace! Believing and trusting in our God! Love you both, sandy

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  10. Unknown says:

    2 Cornithinians 1:4
    We experienced the loss of our sister a little over a year ago. I know not all situations are the same but I know the sorrow that comes in trials. Christ Jesus is our strength.
    I’m praying for you and your fiancé. Love you both.

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  11. Debbie Rinehart says:

    Hi, Bobbi. I saw a link for your blog on the Facebook page of Joy Woodfin; she is my very dear friend. While I would never say, “I know how you feel”; I do know a little about serious health issues and being in a fog. I am 44, a wife of a wonderful man who is a pastor, mother to 5 great kids who I love. In May I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, also a blood cancer. I know what a whirlwind it was for me and my family, waiting through diagnosis and beginning treatments. You can be assured of my prayers for you and your love. Although I am doing well physically right now, I pray that the Lord will give me His strength to walk whatever path He has for me. I pray that whatever time I have left that He will help me live it to the fullest, and most importantly to His glory. I will be praying this for you as well.

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  12. Thank you for sharing. Your’s and your fiance’s faith through these trials is inspiring. Colossians 1 is always helpful for me when I face trials. Praying for you as I post the comment.

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  13. Pingback: Impossible beauty from volcanic ashes | Vita By Design

  14. Pingback: Closed Doors and God’s Faithfulness | jeanbobbi

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