"Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop. And when you are farming . . . you are faced with it every day. You control so little. Really. It's God who decides it all. Not us." He slips his big Dutch hands into frayed pockets, smiles easily. "It's all good." . . . I catch his eyes and I know I have to ask. Tentatively, eyes fixed on his, I venture back into that place I rarely go. "How do you know that, John? Deep down, how do you know that it really is all good? That God is good? That you can say yes - to whatever He gives?" I know the story of the man I am asking, and he knows mine. His eyes linger. I knowhe's remembering the story too. New Year's Day. He asks us to come. Only if we want. I don't want to think why, but we know. "Already?" I search my husband's face. "Today?" He takes my hand and doesn't let go. Not when we slide into the truck, not when we drive the back roads, not when we climb the empty stairwell to the hospital room lit only by a dim lamp. John meets us at the door. He nods. His eyes smile brave. The singular tear that slips down his cheek carves something out of me. "Tiff just onoticed Dietrich had started breathing a bit heavier this afternoon. And yeah, when we brought him in, they said his lung had collapsed. It will just be a matter of hours. Like it was at the end for Austin." His firstborn, Austin, had died of the same genetic disease only eighteen months prior. He was about to bury his second son in less than two years. . . . "You know . . . " John's voice breaks into my memory and his gaze lingers, then turns again toward the waving wheat field. "Well, even with our boys . . . I don't know why that all happened." He shrugs again. "But do I have to? . . . Who knows? I don't mention it often, but sometimes I think of that story in the Old Testament. can't remember what book, but you know - when God gave King Hezekiah fifteen more years of life? Because he prayed for it? But if Hezekiah had died when God first intended, Manasseh would never have been born. And what does the Bible say about Manasseh? Something to the effect that Manasseh had led the Israelites to do even more evil than all the heathen nations around Israel. Think of all the evil that would have been avoided if Hezekiah had died earlier, before Manasseh was born. I am not saying anything, either way, about anything. . . . Just that maybe . . . maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds."How do we live in a world of blessings and sorrows? Where expectations aren’t met? How can we have the hope and contentment that John had, because really expectations are hopes, what we hope for, what we want to give meaning to this life. We need to place our hope in what doesn’t disappoint. Is that really possible? It’s the reason Jesus came as a baby that Christmas morning. God came as a man to give us that hope. The hope that there is someone who knows my story, who knows the beginning from the end. He knows the beginning from the end because He had no beginning and He has no end. God is over all this from eternity past to . . . infinity and beyond!!! His understanding is so far above ours. A lot has happened in our little human section of time. From a pure, holy, no evil existence to creation and sin entering the world, which is the source of all our pain. Did God expect us to not sin? Did it take Him by surprise . . . no. But because of that sin we were separated from God . . . but He knew Christmas was coming!!!! That’s why we sing “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!!!!” If someone doesn’t meet your expectations . . . how do you respond? With love and grace, or with anger and disappointment? I am so glad that God did not respond to my sin in the way I would expect Him too. Here’s how He has responded to us:
JOY TO THE WORLD!!!