Disappointing Season

Why, O my soul, are you downcast? – Psalm 42:11 NIV

Of all the months of the year, October is my favorite. There isn’t a thing I don’t like about it, except it’s only 31 days.

The cooler temperatures bring on sweater season, cuddle season, soup and stew season, and the first fire in the wood burner. The hillsides explode in brilliant splashes of scarlet, gold, orange. The shorter daylight hours hint at long, relaxing evenings by the wood burner, reading and crocheting.

Ah, autumn . . . Author Lee Maynard called it “the season of the year that God seemed to put there just for the beauty of it.”

“If I were a bird,” wrote George Eliot, “I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.”

This year, I wish I could fly about the earth seeking autumn! Because it certainly seems to have bypassed us in these parts.

Too much precipitation and unseasonably warm temperatures have resulted in a disappointing fall season. Rain and wind teamed up to snatch dying leaves from the trees before they had a chance to turn. Three weeks into October, the red maple in front of my house is still green, although half its leaves are gone. And how I looked forward to the bright orange glow infusing my dining room!

I took for granted the October leaves would always be vibrant, the temperatures would always turn cooler, and I would snuggle under warmer blankets. I never expected the leaves to go straight from late-summer green to drab brown, or to wear shorts and flip flops when I longed to wrap myself in my favorite sweater and putter around the house in my soft, sheep-fur-lined moccasins.

I expected October to always be brilliant and beautiful.

When our expectations collide with reality, disappointment crashes in.

My disappointment with the season pales in comparison to disappointment with the way life often turns out.

We expect good; we get bad.

We expect health, we get illness.

We expect fair weather; we get wind and rain and storms.

We expect faithfulness; we get betrayal.

We expect to enjoy a long, happy, loving marriage; we get widowhood and loneliness much sooner than we expected.

We expect a comfortable income; we get too much month at the end of the money.

We expect reward for all our hard work; we get more hard work with no reward in sight.

We expect the garden to produce a bountiful harvest. We get blight, bugs, and bad weather.

But God never promised us a charmed life, did He?

He never promised nothing bad would ever happen to us. But He does promise to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28). It may not by what we planned, but His plans are for our good (Jeremiah 29:11) and are exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20; Isaiah 55:8–9).

He never promised us a life free of troubles, trials, and tribulations. In fact, Jesus said we should expect them (John 16:33). But He did promise to be us through them (Isaiah 43:2).

He never promised to give us all we want. But He did promise to provide us with everything we need (Matthew 6:25–33, and Philippians 4:19).

He never promised we’d never be alone. But He did promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He never promised we wouldn’t suffer the pains of growing old, but He did promise to sustain and carry us through our golden years (Isaiah 46:4).

He never promised other people, particularly those we love, wouldn’t disappoint us. But He did promise to be all we need (Lamentations 3:21–26).

He never promised us a battle-free life. But He did promise us victory (John 16:33).

His Word is filled with His promises to His children.

The world, your family, your friends, your life may disappoint you.

But God never will.

When I’m enduring a season of disappointment, Lord, help me to hear Your whispers of hope. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Psalm 42.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Eye Troubles

Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. – Psalm 119:18 TLB

I haven’t had a prescription change for my glasses for years, so when my vision became increasingly blurry, I thought that was the problem.

But no.

“I can change your prescription,” my eye doctor told me recently, “but that will improve your vision only 20 to 30 percent. The problem is cataracts.”

Oh, the joys of growing old.

While I knew I had cataracts for several years, they weren’t bad enough cause any problems besides a slight blurring of my vision, which my glasses corrected – to a point. But as the cataracts progressively worsened and blocked more and more light, they began to interfere with my everyday life. Simple things I took for granted became a struggle.

For example, I can’t recognize faces until the person is almost right in front of me. So if you see me and it appears that I’m ignoring you, I’m not. I just can’t recognize you or see the smile on your face.

Seeing words clearly on the computer monitor is another challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and the number of typos getting past these once eagle eyes irks me to no end. (Yes, I edit emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and other casual forms of written communication.)

I won’t drive at night these days, as the glare of oncoming headlights makes it even more difficult to see. Driving during the day isn’t much better, since I can’t read the road signs until I’m up upon them.

Reading the scoreboard at my grandson’s baseball games is just as frustrating. And you know how big those are.

But this will all change after surgery. I’ll be able to see clearly again! Hallelujah!

We can have spiritual cataracts. They, too, grow slowly, over time. At first we aren’t aware anything is clouding our spiritual vision, but eventually everything that was once clear becomes blurry.

What causes spiritual cataracts?

Many things – and they all block God’s light from entering your spirit.

First on the list is sin. Sin causes us to see things as we want to see them, not as God does. We lose our divine perspective. The cataract gets worse when we deny sin’s existence, continue to do what we know we shouldn’t, and when we justify our wrongdoing (wrong actions, wrong thoughts wrong attitudes).

Another cause of spiritual cataracts is doubt. Doubt, put simply, is not believing God, His Word, His promises, His goodness. When you doubt, God, you are saying, in effect, “I don’t trust You.”

Close to this is the cataract of cynicism. Life has slammed you once too many times, and you’ve lost the ability to see good in any person, situation, or experience. Bitterness builds up, and you erect a wall around your heart, refusing to let anyone in for fear of getting hurt again.

Lack of passion for God and His Word is another cause of spiritual cataracts. When I first became a believer, I was on fire for God. When I read His Word, understanding, excitement, and enthusiasm filled me. Joy overflowed. But as time went on and life happened, the fire sputtered.

Like with any fire, you can’t expect it to burn on its own. A fire needs fuel. And that fuel is taking the time for God – to talk to Him in prayer, to read His Word whether or not I understand it, to consciously be aware of His abiding presence in my life.

This leads to my final cause of spiritual cataracts: busyness. I must carve out time to sit down, read the Word, and talk to God. While it could be any time, I find morning, before I begin my day, is best. Because if I don’t, I get so caught up crossing things off my to-do list, the day is over and I haven’t taken time with God.

I keep a quote by Hudson Taylor on the front page of my prayer journal: “Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.”

The remedy for spiritual cataracts is the same as for physical ones: Removal. Confess sin, dispel doubt, squash cynicism, starve apathy, and boot out busyness.

Eye trouble? Here are some Scriptures to help you:

“Fix my eyes on Your ways” (Ps. 119:15 ESV).

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word” (Ps. 119:18 TLB).

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:37 ESV).

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:10–40

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image in public domain.