Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


If Troubles Come in Three’s

If troubles come in three’s, husband and I are due for a glorious, problem-free spring. We’ve had more trials than triumphs recently.

First there was a bitter miscommunication in our family and I take the blame on this one. I was judgmental, crass, and didn’t have the self-control to keep my mouth shut. Six weeks later things aren’t fully resolved, although there is movement in the right direction and I am humbly grateful.

Immediately after my knee surgery, husband and I were the targets of a vicious verbal assault that is still echoing through our faith community. It was meant to wound and it did. The steadfast love of Christ-honoring friends held us up and continues to do so. I’ve never been more thankful for Christian community.

And that brings me to #3. This week our sewer line collapsed. First estimate of repairs: $17,500.

Three years ago a plumber with the gift of sewer prophesy left fliers on every door in our neighborhood. The houses were built five decades ago using Orangeburg sewer pipe; it has a fifty-year lifespan. He warned us all of imminent disaster, but not one homeowner called him back. When prophets bear bad news they are rarely thanked for their vision.

When I look at these three challenges together, there is one strikingly similarity. I take too much of my life for granted. My prayers of thanksgiving are severely under-spoken.

My family relationships deserve more care than friendships, not less. We usually choose our friends based on similar interests, who makes us laugh, and who likes us best. But I need to remember that family consists of people God deliberately chose for me. They are here for me to learn from them.

The process of spiritual sanctification depends on encounters with people who are just as imperfect, fragile, and stubborn as we are. Who better than family? When we aggravate them or they irritate us, it is an opportunity for us to be perfected into holiness. God ultimately intends to make both sides better whenever the “fur is flying,” but only with repentance, humility, and heartfelt apologies.  

I need to thank God when my family relationships are peaceful and loving, and thank Him even more when they survive the tough stuff.

Also, I don’t thank God enough for the Christian community around me. These are our friends who wisely know how to love through the tumultuous times. They understand it’s not necessary to pick a side and jump into the ring of hurt feelings. For two weeks husband and I have felt the ministry of their prayers and the healing balm of their love for Jesus directed to us.

That brings me to the sewer.

The day it backed up into his shower, Husband and I looked around our humble house and realized that we take our comfort for granted. I expect the lights to come on when I flick the switch. I rarely praise God for the hot water heater. I assume the washer and dryer, furnace, dish washer, and garbage disposal will all roar to life whenever I ask them. A home repair tragedy in my life is when the automatic garage door doesn’t rise with the first touch of its button.

Sadly, I cannot remember the last time I thanked God for a home with a sewer. That changed this week.

Paul and Timothy wrote of Jesus to the church in Colosse, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:17) I think that means relationships, friendships, marriages, and the Body of Christ.

Orangeburg pipe? Fifty years only.