I was a junior in college when my entire world came crashing down around me. Everything that was once stable and certain was suddenly thrown into total chaos and doubt. I was a 23-year-old college student at an out-of-state university and living over six hours from home. I had a wonderful girlfriend, was attending a great church where I was an active member of the worship team, was making solid grades and generally enjoying everything that life had to offer. I had career plans, life plans, job opportunities and ideas on what paths I would pursue after graduation.
And then it happened. I’ll never forget what little bit I am able to remember of that night. The epilepsy that I suffered from as an infant mysteriously returned in the form of a full-blown seizure, which manifested itself one evening as I stood in the bottom level of my girlfriend’s apartment. She and her roommates panicked and quickly called my parents and an ambulance.
That was 2008.
Fast-forward to 2010. I still managed to graduate, but I had to move back to my hometown to do it. I made it to every one of my classes, despite the frustrating interruption caused by the return of my childhood neurological disorder (which I had only ever heard stories about) and subsequently being placed on a driving restriction. This meant that, at 24-years-old, I was having to get rides to and from campus and work. Most of the time, it was one of my parents or a sibling giving me a lift. Sometimes it was a friend from church. It also meant temporarily saying goodbye to my beloved Mustang, which was neither convenient nor fun. I still walk past that car every day and wonder if I will ever drive it — or any vehicle — ever again.
I’m 32 now. I still can’t drive. I still have seizures. (I had one last night, in fact.) My every day life is full of regularly occurring frustrations, medical challenges, prescription side effects, setbacks, obstacles, stress-triggers, interruptions and inconveniences.
Yours probably is too. Just when you least expect it, something breaks. Something comes undone. Something erupts into chaos. Something shatters into a million pieces. It might be your car, your job, your health, your marriage, your finances, your family or it might just be the expensive wine glass that your toddler knocked off the counter when you weren’t looking. It could be any number of things. It could be lots of things simultaneously.
For me, it’s my seizures. Those are my interruptions. Those are my unexpected moments of dreaded horror and frustration.
The problem is that I often don’t respond to these annoying interruptions as I should. Even worse, I know I don't respond as I should. Perhaps you can identify. After I’ve had a seizure and chewed my tongue to shreds — making it practically impossible to eat solid food for several days — I tend to respond with impatience, anger, and hopelessness. I sulk into despair and wallow in self-pity. I complain to God, my parents and my friends about the physical pain in my mouth, the inability to eat and swallow food, the gnawing in my hungry stomach and all of the overwhelming burdens of epilepsy. Of course, all of these people graciously allow me to rant, vent, pout and mope.
However, while these epileptic interruptions might frustrate me — and they do — they certainly do not frustrate God. While they might shock and surprise me, they do not leave Him flabbergasted in the least. He is in no way rattled, stunned or perplexed when I am having seizures. Likewise, He is not bewildered by the challenges that will interrupt your schedule today or those that will interrupt the rest of your life. In fact, in His sovereignty, He is orchestrating thousands of interruptions and events together in universal harmony in order to shape, mold and build us in ways that will cause us to trust, obey and follow Him more closely.
That’s the beauty in the interruptions of life. That’s the beauty in the little moments that initially seem so frustrating and burdensome. It’s in these moments where our faith and convictions are put to the test. It’s when we ponder questions like: Do I trust in God’s sovereignty over my life? Do I believe He’s powerful enough to control and maintain all of the tiny details of my earthly existence? Do I trust Him to handle and oversee everything I will need until I die? (Jeremiah 29:11) Do I believe there’s some sort of higher purpose to all of this, even though I may not know or see it right now? (Isaiah 55:8-9) (Psalm 139:1-6)
As finite human beings, we often need to be reminded that we do not have our lives completely under control. We need to be reminded that we have limitations and that there are some things which we simply cannot accomplish our own. Difficult interruptions often serve as those reminders. And as hard as some of these situations may be to endure, we have opportunities to grow closer to God and to mature spiritually. So, we should be grateful. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Instead of viewing life’s interruptions as frustrating annoyances, try to see them as God-orchestrated opportunities designed to draw us closer to our Creator and grow us up in our faith. It’s not an easy way to view life, but it’s the best way to get your focus off yourself and place it more on Christ. Then you’ll start to see exactly when and how He is working through all of the little interruptions in your world and the best ways you can learn and grow from them.
Besides, God never promised us easy, comfortable, disturbance-free lives. (John 16:33) He promised us eternal joy, hope and peace. And honestly, I’d rather have the latter.