When my brother was in high school, he spent his summers working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in the frigid, dangerous waters of Alaska. He did this year after year, even though he hated it. One particular summer, he wrote us the following letter…
Dear Mom and Sarah,
The weather stinks. Living on a boat stinks. Not seeing land stinks. Not having a bathroom stinks. Being cold and wet 24/7 stinks. Spending all day and night with three guys stinks. The food stinks! Getting seasick stinks. The cracks on my hands and smelling like fish stinks. Missing my girlfriend stinks. Missing my dog stinks. Missing the beach this summer stinks. Sleeping two hours a night stinks. Picking fish from nets stinks. The money is great.
Through the years, I’ve thought about his letter, pulled it out of my keepsake box, and read it again. It usually makes me laugh. But right now in particular, there are moments when I identify with his sentiments. In one way or another, I guess we all can.
In many ways, what we’re experiencing, or missing, or having to deal with—well, it stinks.
Not meeting inside for church. Missing times with family. No gathering for birthday parties. Cancelled holidays, abandoned vacation plans. No in-person sporting events, concerts, movies. No field trips or graduations or soccer games for the kids. Closed restaurants. (“Do you want more chips and salsa?” I really miss hearing that.) Shuttered businesses. Social distancing. No hugging. Illness. Anxiety. Losing jobs. Losing loved ones.
It’s easy to say that all of these things straight-up stink. But my brother’s comment (“the money is great”) prompts me to ask, what is the one thing that drives us, motivates us to get up and keep going, even when so much around us stinks?
For me, one word says it all.
Two words tell me why.
It’s believing Philippians 1:6 which says, “I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
It’s trusting Roman 8:28 when it says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
It’s holding fast to Numbers 23:19 because, “God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?”
It’s leaning into Exodus 14:4 when God said, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I Am The Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.
Don’t allow what stinks about this season overshadow what God promises. Don’t quit. Don’t give in to despair. Keep showing up. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep looking to Him.
Keep His promises on the forefront of your mind.