After the initial shock of Catie’s diagnoses and as a treatment plan emerged, one of my first questions was, how long? Primarily, my concern was for her, but I was also concerned about myself. How long would her life be in danger, and how long would my life be in turmoil? This was not the life I had expected.
Sleepless nights were filled with unanswerable questions. Why would this happen to a sweet four-year-old little girl? But also, why is this happening to me?
Twin toxins course through all of our veins: expectation and entitlement. Most days they merely lurk in the dark places. But when pain comes our way, expectation asks, how long? and entitlement says, why me?
How long? I need to get on with life! I have other things to do! My life is stuck on pause! Our expectations are for a happy life, a peaceful, prosperous existence or just something better than we have right now.
Why me? This is not fair! I deserve better! I’m not as bad as my friends and they are not facing this kind of mess! Our sense of entitlement leads us to think that life has dealt us a bad hand. We were short-changed. We were treated unfairly.
The prophet Habakkuk asked those two questions as he started his lament to God:
“How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2a)
“Why do you make me look at injustice?” (Habakkuk 1:3a)
So, what is the antidote for these twin tendencies? What can we do to get past the expectation that suffering has gone on far too long, or the feeling of being entitled to something better?
Habakkuk wrestles with the questions and ends his little book this way:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19a)
Habakkuk addresses the issue of entitlement by recognizing that a prosperous, abundant life is not guaranteed. Circumstances may become difficult and our dreams may not come true. But, no matter how bad things become, Habakkuk learned to say, "I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” For Habakkuk – and for us – God is enough.
And what does Habakkuk teach us that we can expect? No matter how long it takes, God’s endgame is the same for us as it was for Habakkuk. God desires to lift us up and bring us to new heights of awareness and understanding beyond anything we can imagine.
But only after the struggle does he enable me to go on the heights.
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc