That Thing You Thought Was Too Good to be True?
(Please read through to the end for this week’s giveaway: DARK CHOCOLATE!
I reply to every comment or email I receive, but I'll be off the grid for the next 10 days.)
Friends, back in mid-June I wrote you about my perfect day in Manhattan - a gift from my family in celebration of my 70th birthday.
But did I ever tell you what happened the day after?
There were only two flights returning to Asheville from Newark, and I was booked on the morning one. The gate agent announced that the flight was oversold, and would two passengers be willing to take the evening flight instead in exchange for a travel voucher?
Knowing I had time to spare, I stepped up to the podium. But as the time grew near to departure, a second volunteer failed to materialize, and the gate agent upped the ante to a $1500 (!!) voucher good for 12 months (with small print and exclusions).
Woo-ee - that’s a fortune to me! I was thrilled when another passenger finally came forward and we were both given vouchers. I happily flew home to Asheville that night, landing around midnight.
You know the old axiom: If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not?
The work-from-home scams that promise a big income with little training or experience.
Business deals that are guaranteed to “double your investment.”
Job offers that require you to pay in advance for certification or materials.
We’re right to be skeptical.
But what about that situation you’ve been praying about? If you’re like me, the worry-rut runs me straight into a worst-case scenario. Why is it so hard sometimes to trust God for the best possible outcome instead?
I have no difficulty viewing God as the Father who loves me, the Son who saved me, and the Comforter who comes alongside me. I accept that when hard times enter my life, as they do, He can and will use them for good. Suffering gets our attention (Ps. 119:71), discipline stiffens our spiritual spines (Heb. 12:11), and sacrifice pleases God (Heb. 13:16).
I get that.
But why is it so hard to accept that God doesn’t care solely about our holiness, but our happiness too?
“The wonderful news is that holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure.” Randy Alcorn
Some of us have been taught that joy is sacred while happiness is secular. The former is to be desired while the latter is suspect, an illusory emotion dependent only upon what happens to us.
But the scriptural record proves otherwise.
Consider the compelling story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings. This long-married wife of an older husband had stopped praying or even hoping for a child until God, working through the prophet Elisha, granted the secret desire of her heart in a miraculous way. Life with her cherished son was precious beyond belief until her worst fears were realized. On a hot harvest day, the boy cried out in agony, clutched his head, and died.
The story of the agonized mother’s race to find the prophet is told in detail in 2 Kings 4:8-37. The climactic moment occurs in her anguished cry in verse 28: “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? And didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me and get my hopes up’?”
If you’ve read the story, you know the ending. The death of the fulfilled promise would be the worst kind of deceit, were there no resurrection. But there was. The life of the Shunammite’s son was restored.
Have you longed and prayed for something for so long you’ve given up hope it will ever happen?
Resignation is not always a bad thing. Acceptance often brings peace.
But hear me now: We need to stop putting our inner pessimist on the platform and handing him the microphone. I’m sick of lowering my expectations to avoid disappointment. Aren’t you?
If this is where you are, know that God desires our happiness just as those of us who are parents delight in providing for our own children.
“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 MSG
That child who has strayed so far away spiritually you fear she’ll never return?
The marriage that seems irretrievably, irrevocably broken?
The medical diagnosis that speaks of endings but not beginnings?
Don’t assume that since nothing appears to be happening in your situation right now, God is not at work. Let’s not factor the Father out. He can do above and beyond what you can ask or imagine – not just for your holiness but for your happiness as well.
When your desired outcome seems too good to be true?
It just might be true anyway.
That travel voucher I mentioned with all the exclusions?
Guess what? It’s paying for two round-trip tickets to a place we’ve only dreamed of visiting. Tomorrow, Mike and I are flying to Switzerland!
When something seems to be too good to be true, it just might be anyway. And friends, please know that God has good things in store for you that are way more valuable than an airline ticket.
I’ll be carrying your prayer requests with me and praying for you from our little cottage high in the Alps. With no internet service, I’ll be off the grid for most of our trip.
Watch for my next post on Tuesday, October 3, and in the meantime please answer this question in the Comments below:
What is one activity Maggie is planning to do in Interlaken?
1) Parachuting from a plane
2) Bungee-jumping off the Alps
3) Reading on a mountain slope
4) Paragliding over the lake
When I return, I’ll share photos and send a bar of Swiss dark chocolate to one of you who guessed right!
- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2023
[Portions of this post adapted from This Life We Share, copyright 2020 NavPress. Used with permission.]
Maggie Wallem Rowe is a dramatist and speaker who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The author of This Life We Share and Life is Sweet,Y’all, Maggie really is afraid of heights.