“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Pro 14:12)

Stress! The week before last felt like a seven-day battle, a relentless struggle through a long, claustrophobic tunnel, a seeming “lost week”—precious time just wasted! (You’ll notice no blog posts for that period.)

But after seven more days spent in soul searching and God searching, at last I emerged into His beautiful light, and settled into refreshing peace. I found myself restored to that sweet state of God-trust I’d experienced early in my Christian life—during that former stressful time I wrote about in the “Trouble- time Provision” posts.

And I realized that both now and formerly, I was blessed by… stress!

Return with me to where we left off in that long ago “trouble time.” Then fast forward, through my obedient six months of refraining from big decisions and faithfully attending meetings, to the point where the changes my (then) husband saw in me motivated him to venture into AA meetings and start “walking the walk” of  recovery. Advance a bit further, to where we made what turned out a huge error in judgment, just as a few knowing friends feared it was.

Easy Answer

It seemed such an easy solution to our financial plight: to sell our house, buy a cheaper one, and pay off bills with the profit. That was the trouble. It was too easy.

Though I had learned to stop taking on others’ responsibilities—particularly my husband’s (Gal 6:5), and God’s (1 Pet 5:7), and immediately started sleeping at night instead of tossing, turning, rising and pacing, my husband was now tossing, turning, rising and pacing. But that was good—because he was making constructive progress in repairing his own damage, and gaining dignity, strength, character in the process. During that year our financial crises also kept reminding both of us to trust God more and enlist His guidance and help. We were both growing in many ways.

Then that real estate friend told us about the beautiful white elephant now for sale back in husband’s hometown—that house he’d long admired. It was…a mansion, really. But this was a gas-and-oil crisis time, and no one wanted to buy such a big supposed heat-eater. Except us. In our situation it looked like a splendid idea.

Too Easy

The biggest trouble wasn’t the possible heating costs, but too quick an escape from bill-paying stress (in other words, responsibility).

The stress of fighting the battle of the bills and correcting bad money habits seemed bad—man pacing floor in the night, man’s brow knit with tension: that can’t be healthy, can it? Yet this kind of stress wasn’t what had produced that chest pressure and shooting arm pain the man had seen the doctor about two years before, to hear he had to quit drinking or it would kill him. What it was now producing was maturity.

But neither of us considered that—only what a delightful way we’d found to eliminate money problems fast and get the roomier home we now “needed,” what with baby crowded into a small room off ours. And what a steal of a price, which we reasoned couldn’t long remain that low. So we went for it.

Temptations of Ease, Blessings of Stress

In all the time of bill-paying stress my husband never had a drink.  Only after we sold our country house did he stop off for “just one” to “celebrate.” Then in next to no time we were back in the same horrible cycles.

That’s how the things that look good to man can turn out. And as Proverbs 14:12 warns, our way that seemed so right eventually led to the man’s tragic death at age 42, his body ravaged by alcohol beyond the surgeon’s ability to save it. Who can know if he would be alive today, had we persevered through that battle of stress, instead of taking the easy-out route?

Upcoming post: The flip side. Things of God that look foolish to man…