My friend, Al, faces a serious introduction to chemotherapy this week. Fortunately, he is in pretty good condition, good enough to take it full strength, which is how he wants to do it. He wants to get it done, get it over with. He told me this calmly as we sat together at the back of the church before the service. I was looking at him with increased respect for his resolute attitude.
Then he surprised me even more. He began reviewing the busy, overloaded, chaotic circumstances of his life these days. He has just been promoted at his job. He already does a lot of his work on the road. That will apparently increase. At home, he and his wife have one of those unique challenges with one of their young children, who has autism. Al comes home from a frantic work day to a highly chaotic evening helping his wife and children with their tasks. Al never expects to find a quiet moment until well past 9 o’clock at night. An identical day faces him the next morning.
And here came the shocker.
“I’m grateful for the chaos,” Al said, off-handedly. I laughed, because that was certainly not the kind of thing I would expect anyone in his shoes to say. Would he care to explain?
His answer was plain and practical. He began to admit that he knew his own tendencies to worry and to want to get things under control. But his life made it impossible for him to even begin to try. It took all his attention just to keep up. There was no time left to him to spend worrying about his physical health. By the end of the day he was just tired and happy to be able to go to sleep. The chaos was helping him not to fret, which in turn made it easier for him to leave things in the hands of Jesus, the very thing he most desired to do.
Chaos as a blessing, as an answer to prayer: I never saw that coming. And what’s more, it makes sense. It’s such a simple way for God to help my friend avoid worse temptations to doubt or fear for his own future.
My friend smiled and went to spend a moment kneeling at the pew before the service. I watched him, thinking, Lord? Have you answered some of my prayers that way – in ways that keep me safe from temptations to worry and doubt? Ways so effective I don’t even recognize how You are protecting me?
Because that would mean that, sometimes, I’ve asked God to remove the very things that are preserving my life, His very plan for me.