The Hardest Questions to Ask

The Hardest Questions to Ask

I love great, big hugs and hellos, happy celebrations with hearty laughter. But I dread goodbyes. When it comes to family and saying goodbye, I’m a crier.

Today was one of those “I’m going to cry and say goodbye” days. My son Austin had arrived at the end of June to help us look after my other son Jonathan on the Insight for Living Ministries Alaska Cruise. Because of my speaking and book engagements during the cruise, I planned for Austin to help while I worked—a win-win because Jon loves spending time with his older brother. They have a tested, tried and true, and tremendously tender sibling relationship.

What we didn’t expect was for Austin to get terribly sick while on the cruise—so sick that he wasn’t able to return to his university apartment until the end of July.

The Blessed Unexpected

Years ago, I would have considered Austin’s illness an untimely frustration, but age and time have a way of teaching one what’s important. I viewed our extra two weeks together as a gift. Our discussions and laughter deepened our relationship. We talked about everything from morals, values, work, ethics, motivation, and God’s transformation in our lives to physical and emotional wellness, struggles with growing up, and being responsible for our choices.

I don’t know how life will unfold . . . for Austin . . . or for any of my kids . . . or for you and me. Regardless how we live, it is the sovereign will of God that we must align our attitudes and actions with, so that we might enjoy life fully. I didn’t say we’d be fully happy—I said, “enjoy life fully,” which comes down to one key ingredient: attitude. Austin was terribly sick throughout July, but he had control over one thing—his attitude during the unexpected circumstances and disappointments.

We planned for an amazing cruise. We were given a beautiful cruise in the midst of illness because we chose to find the beauty in it all. Sometimes it’s that easy; other times it’s excruciatingly difficult.

(Photo courtesy of

Examine Your Expectations

I don’t know where you find yourself today:

  • saying goodbye
  • missing a loved one
  • battling disappointments (even in a beautiful location)
  • receiving news you never expected
  • wrestling with an unfaithful spouse
  • living with the betrayal of an unfaithful church

You could be living with any of these—or others. I don’t know. I do know nothing surprises our Lord. He is good in spite of what we may perceive as bad.

Sometimes His silence is more faithful than many words. Sometimes what we think is God’s absence is actually His patience waiting for us to draw near to Him. I don’t know the mind of God, but I do know God cares and is working to transform our often childish faith into one of mature substance. Often, that means we may experience momentary disappointment. Unexpected circumstances can shift our attention from creature comforts to seeking our Creator’s will.

Are you tired of being disappointed? Maybe God is calling you to examine your expectations, to align your will with His—based on His Word—instead of your demanding He align with your plan. It’s amazing what can happen when we embrace our circumstances—hard as they may be—and ask God for His direction. I’m not saying the road will be easy, but you’ll travel with the peace of knowing that God is present with you.

Let Me Hear from You

Austin pondered a lot during his additional two-week stay. As he drove away, tears dripped and I reminded myself God was in control . . . of his life and of mine. There was quiet contentment in the moments that followed, as I watched his car turn the corner and disappear. So I ask . . . Who is really in control of your life? How content are you with life today? Contentment—not happiness—is a good way to measure who’s got control of your life.

Let’s start a conversation about fully giving your days to the One who created them. I look forward to hearing from you.

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