I can think of numerous situations and events throughout my life that I absolutely HATED at the time but ended up for my good.
When I was in the 3rd grade, the dentist told my parents that I desperately needed braces and referred me to an orthodontist. That wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that I was fairly young for braces and would need TEN TEETH extracted first. That's pretty traumatic for an 8-year-old, along with waking up several nights after the extractions with my pillow soaked in blood. Mercy! Back in the old days, every time you went to the orthodontist, you could count on some major tightening of the wires and several days of very tender teeth. Miserable. However, by the time junior high rolled around and many of my friends were getting their braces, I was already through with the process AND had a nice set of straight teeth giving me much-needed self-confidence.
When I was in the 8th grade, I had a civics teacher named Mr. Kirkham. He taught with a combination of lectures, pop quizzes, and random questioning of his students during class. One day he stopped in the middle of his lecture, looked straight at me, and asked me a question. I wish I could remember what that question was. All I know is that I didn't know the answer and innocently said so. He said, "Miss Collier, from now on you will make it a point to know the answer to any question I might ask you!" Gulp. As a card-carrying overachiever who never wanted to settle for less than an A, he got my full attention. From that point on, not only did I read every night's assignment, but I read with more intensity making sure I knew the material. I hated being put under such pressure, but it made me a better student and was great preparation for high school and college classes.
I enrolled at Samford University ten days after I graduated from high school. I was so excited to get started on my music degree and begin studying piano with Dr. Betty Sue Shepherd. However, while I was going through the registration process, I found out that Dr. Shepherd was not going to be teaching that summer, and I would have to take piano from Mr. Turkiewicz. Yikes!!! Even his name sounded intimidating!!! And he was. Gruff, harsh, a demanding taskmaster. My "baptism" into being a music major was a rough one, but Mr. Turkiewicz set me on the path of disciplined practice that was just what I needed. I was much more ready for the hard work when fall came and Dr. Shepherd was finally my teacher.
When I was in college, I was completely smitten by a guy who had graduated from Vanderbilt and was headed to law school in Virginia but decided to fulfill his military duty first. This was the 1960's, so, you guessed it, he was sent to Vietnam. Rather than asking me to wait for him to return, he told me he thought we should break up. I was devastated, absolutely heartbroken. That was one summer weekend. The following Wednesday night, Steve Pearson (also home from college for the summer) offered to walk me home from prayer meeting. He asked me out for the following Saturday night. And the rest (as they say) is history. It was Steve who proved to be the TRUE LOVE OF MY LIFE. The Vietnam guy made it home safely and had a great legal career, but he did me a huge favor as it turned out. If he'd asked me to wait for him, I'd never have said yes to Steve's request for a date.
More recently, when we decided to move back to Hartselle, we narrowly missed out on getting to buy a house that we thought would be PERFECT for us. It was already built. The room layout, location, pool, and landscaping were great. Even the colors were exactly what I would have chosen. But someone else beat us to it. We were so disappointed, and the process of building our present house was a long and frustrating one. However, we now view IT as the perfect house for us and realize that the one we thought we wanted would not have been the best choice after all.
I could go on and on, but the point is that so many times I thought I had my life all figured out. I wanted events to unfold according to my wishes, then God intervened with a better plan.
Right now, I HATE COVID. I don't use that word often, but as more and more people I know and love die or have serious effects from COVID, the more my animosity for the disease has grown. It is a cruel, seemingly relentless situation with the number of cases continuing to rise at alarming rates while we wait and wait and wait for a vaccine. What could possibly emerge as good things to come from COVID? It's hard to imagine.
I've seen a faint glimmer of a few things that are positives. While travel has been almost at a standstill, I've really enjoyed my home. . . and cooking . . . and time to reflect and write.
While church activities have been virtual or abbreviated, I've found myself digging in the Word more intentionally without waiting for someone else to teach or preach the truths I need. When we FINALLY have vaccines and COVID is put in our rearview mirrors, I believe it's possible that we will all uncover ways that God has turned or will turn this into a positive period of growth and learning. I'd like to think we're becoming kinder, more thoughtful, more grateful, and more aware people. In the meantime, I'm praying for those who are currently fighting COVID to recover and for those who have lost loved ones to it to be comforted and experience the "peace that passes understanding."
Jeremiah 29:11 -- "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Romans 8:28 -- "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Proverbs 16:9 -- "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
Proverbs 19:21 -- "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
Proverbs 3:5 -- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."
Psalm 27:14 -- "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"