No, I do not want you to send me an Amazon gift card. To be totally truthful, I would never ask you to get something like that for me. And if, though I pray not, you did purchase one for me, it is most likely on its way to Ethiopia or Nigeria – the source of the request. Believe it or not, I have been to neither of those countries, nor any other foreign land outside of Canada.
Last Thursday afternoon I was hacked, and it left me quite haggard for a while. Starting around 2:30 in the afternoon I began receiving texts, phone calls and other communications from people I had not seen in years. Others were calling the church office to find out what was happening. Unlike the last time (10 years ago?) when I was “stranded in England after being mugged” (or something like that), this time the line was “Do you have an Amazon account?”
I am not sure how many hours were wasted, but this hacking really shut me down for what seemed like forever. I am still not totally up to speed. I get no pleasure in changing passwords or email addresses. A variety of projects had to be put on hold. And it ended up sucking all of the energy out of me.
I was a haggard mess until someone (I have no recollection who – though it may have been multiple people) said to me, “Look on the bright side. This is a great opportunity for you to be in contact with all of these long-lost people from your past.” My transformation certainly was not instantaneous, but my energy started to return. I felt healthy and helpful again.
By Wednesday afternoon I was ready to start writing about the whole experience from a positive perspective. I got three or four paragraphs in and then noticed something was wrong with my laptop. I was not connected to the internet, and everything I tried to do to fix it failed. Haggard and helpless again, I texted Shane, who quickly solved my problem. But the price was high – everything I had written was lost.
What is the old expression, “If first you don’t succeed, cry, cry, again?” Wait! That is not quite right is it! While there certainly are appropriate times for crying, in this particular case, it would have gotten me nowhere – except more deeply buried in my haggardly hole.
My mind flew to Elijah near the end of his career. With hackers all around and haggard from his seemingly fruitless years of prophetic service he prayed, “It is enough now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19.4) Now I am not saying that I was that depressed, but I was noticing that this was the second straight week wherein I was not accomplishing what I set out to do. Elijah’s prayer continued, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19.14) Do you hear the same frustration in his voice that I hear?
God’s answer to Elijah (and not only Elijah) was (is) something like, “It may not look like you are succeeding, but try, try again.” Just because I am not accomplishing what I set out to do does not mean that God is not accomplishing what he chooses to do. I have enjoyed reconnecting with many people from my past. I am learning new things. And I have been reminded that, even when I am hacked or haggard, God is at work accomplishing his good and gracious will, and keeping his eternal promise, “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31.13)