A couple weeks ago when I went for an evening walk in my neighborhood, I saw a license plate frame that said, “God is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.” It stopped me in my tracks. I had a lot weighing on my mind, so I’m grateful to owner of that SUV because it was a reminder I really needed. And it’s not just a nice saying- it comes from Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine…”
I needed to be remined of it because I was feeling so overwhelmed. My health situation is beyond complex, and it’s difficult having such responsibility on my shoulders of devising a solution while I’m sick. I’m supposed to be resting, yet I’m working longer hours than I would be if I was healthy and living a “normal” life. There’s not another documented case like mine, so we don’t have clinical experience to guide us. That’s a pretty scary feeling. I’m having to do the work that no one else has the time or inclination to do if I want a solution. A solution is possible, but the work is challenging and tedious, and there’s no instant gratification. There hasn’t even been delayed gratification! It’s easy for me to feel discouraged when I look at the huge mess in which I find myself. It often seems hopeless, like it’s too much to overcome. And for humans, it is. But it is not too much for God to overcome. It is not too much for God to walk me through, and He is the one guiding the work that I do. God knows what to do even when we don’t. There’s nothing too big for God to handle.
I know these truths about God and have grown a lot in my faith, yet I am still tempted to doubt SO often. The enemy is sly, and his lies can sound like truths when you’re tired and overwhelmed.
After seeing the license plate frame, I felt encouraged, and my huge consult the next day went really well. It’s so much easier to trust when things fall out in a way that we can see good and understand. I was feeling strong in my faith. But then I implemented things from that consult, and that night I never fell asleep. I struggle a lot with insomnia due to my body being in a sympathetic “fight or flight” state, but the nights when I never even fall asleep whatsoever are the hardest. It makes the pain so much worse because my body desperately needs the rest. I was beyond frustrated and really angry with God. I argued with God quite a bit during the middle of the night. “Why would you let this happen? You know better than anyone else how much my body needs the rest! You can do more than we imagine, yet you’re not even doing what I’m imagining, much less more than that. The least you could do is let me fall asleep. You let me get my hopes up by seeing that license plate, then this?”
I got up that morning after no sleep and got back to work. Honestly, I was frosted. It was such a challenging day because I was in even more pain than usual, and it was hard to focus on tedious research with no sleep. I asked for His grace and guidance with my work that day, and I plugged away (not happily, I might add). Then I found the next piece of the puzzle!
As it turns out, it’s something I only figured out because I was up all night. That’s right. My being up all night caused me to look at the circumstances surrounding the last time I was up all night, and I recognized a pattern. It’s something I would not have seen if it hadn’t happened again. I realized how one treatment was countering another one (in an extremely complex way), and had I continued on that path, I would have stayed in a messy loop instead of having a chance of progressing. There was a reason behind me staying up all night that ended up being for my good, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. God had allowed that to happen for the bigger picture, for the greater purpose. He really does care about me, even though it didn’t feel like it in my sleep-deprived state.
I’m grateful for the occasional moments where God lets me “peek behind the curtain” to see a little sliver of what He’s doing. We are blinded in our human condition, so often things don’t make sense the way we see them. This was one of those “ah-ha” moments in retrospect, though, where I could clearly see that God was working on something that I just couldn’t see at the time. He wasn’t trying to be cruel by making me stay up all night- He allowed it to happen so that it would help me get to the next step. Had He answered my prayer and allowed me to fall right asleep, it would have been worse for me in the long run.
We all have these “ah-ha” experiences if we look closely enough. I wasn’t trained to see them before this chronic suffering though. It’s like I was so conditioned to going through the motions of life that I missed a lot of this bigger picture stuff. Being in the trenches of suffering for such a long time has made me sharpen my spiritual vision and look for things (out of desperation) that I once would have missed. I’m sure I’m still missing many things, but at least I’m catching more than I did in the past. The more I see, the more I realize how much else is actually happening that I’m oblivious to in my humanity.
God is always working on the bigger masterpiece, and it is so much more than we could ever imagine. I’m relieved that the bigger picture is His responsibility to orchestrate though, because what I’m already having to manage is more than enough! Most of the time, I can’t see what God is up to, and it doesn’t make sense. My responsibility in those moments is not to understand, but to have faith and trust Him. It’s hard, and I miss the mark on that often because those doubts creep in so easily. What I’m trying to do in those moments is catch myself in the midst of the doubt, remind myself of the times when He did let me peek behind the curtain, and use those examples as models of what is happening even when I don’t see it. I’m trying to stand on the faith that He is up to more than I could imagine behind that curtain every single time, even if He doesn’t reveal it to me every single time.
The best news is that God IS able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, in my situation or in any situation. Things that are impossible for us humans are possible for God. There is hope in all seemingly impossible situations, and Ephesians 3:20 is a beautiful reminder of that. We are to pray unceasingly and ask what His will is and how He desires us to be involved, because He wants our involvement in His plan. And we have to be on guard against those sneaky doubts. I know from personal experience that when those doubts are playing in my mind, I don’t hear God as clearly, so I need to keep silencing them by replacing them with faith and truth. You never know how God is going to catch your attention and draw your focus back to Him- it might just be via a license plate!