Sacrifice of Understanding 

These are words you never want to hear your doctor say: 

“There’s a lump here we need to get checked out”. 

“This needs to be removed right away”. 

“There’s a chance it could be cancer”. 

It was just supposed to be a routine appointment, a quick stopover in Bangkok before a trip I had been planning for several months. My hopes were high that this would be an door-opening sort of trip, saying hello to new and old friends, infusing my heart with renewed vision, better focus and ministry insights. It was a place I have dreamed about going for a long time, one that stays in my heart when I pray. 

Then the door slammed shut. 

Suddenly, I needed to cancel flights, rearrange plans, schedule a surgery for the next day. Suddenly everything changed, nothing was certain, and my life became like a little scene in a turned-over snow globe with everything swirling around me.

There was nothing I could do except wait, keep breathing those deep kind of breaths that bring clarity and calm. I tried not to think about the test results, about the future and what was happening. There was a peace that was beyond my understanding despite the fear and all the unknowns. 

It wasn’t until I got home, when all those swirling thoughts started to settle, that I started asking questions. I started wrestling. Why did things have to happen this way? Why did I have to give up a dream that was close to my heart? Why did my body betray me, growing this foreign mass (that turned out not to be cancer, thank goodness)? Why did I feel like it was time to make this trip, and then I couldn’t? 

I felt like my two year-old nephew when he doesn’t get the thing he wants the most in that moment- throwing a tantrum at God, kicking and screaming because it didn’t make sense. 

I’ve given up a lot of things in living this overseas life. I’ve left my family on the other side of the ocean, the chance to be close to sweet friends, the ability to communicate easily, and stores like Wal-mart where you can buy everything in one place. 

But maybe this is part of the sacrifice, part of the submission- giving up the right to understand. Months or years down the road I might look back and see why things happened the way that they did, see the tapestry that God has been weaving and how this all fits into His story, hopefully for His glory. Or, I might not ever know. Can I give up what I want to claim as my right to ‘get it’, to see all the reasons right now, and simply trust? 

I’m not there yet. This is not a I-have-life-all-figured-out-and-now-I’m-sharing-with-you kind of post. No, I’m still very much in the wrestling stage, trying to let go of expectations and dreams in order to kneel before a God who knows the past and the future, whose wisdom is unfathomable, who invites me to draw close even with my questions and the hard-surrender state of my heart. Maybe you’ve been here too. Maybe you can share your experience with me and be part of my journey. Maybe we can figure all of this out together, as we live in the not-yet-understanding. 


  1. larry_nelda says:

    Sarah, this is Nelda Rosenbaum.  We have met a couple times at church. I read a devotion from Girlfriends In God. 9-28-2016 Titled: When You Feel Discouraged. This might give you some encouragement. I think you are such a strong woman of faith to do what you are doing. Your posts have been encouragement to me. Keep trusting God as you have been.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


    1. shilkemann says:

      Nelda, thank you so much for your comment and encouragement!


  2. Amy Young says:

    Sarah, ah, the sacrifice of understanding. Necessary, but that doesn’t make it easy :). Much love!


    1. shilkemann says:

      Thank you, Amy. 🙂


  3. joshmeares says:

    Tough one to deal with Sarah. I am reminded of I Corinthians 8:2-3 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. Not to mention Job. That doesn’t necessarily make not knowing any easier, but I think that the “is known by God” softens the blow.


    1. shilkemann says:

      Thanks, Josh! I see I’m added to those you have had to counsel/comfort recently. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Stacie says:

    Sarah….I recently had a disappointing experiencing where I felt God putting everything together and I was dreaming about what my life was going to look like…that didn’t happen. I was so disappointed and didn’t understand when it felt so”God appointed”. As I was trying to put my finger on the root of why my overwhelming joy turned to sadness, I felt the Lord say to me, “don’t elevate your dream higher than my will for you”. Wow that felt profound to me….because I had quite the dream for my new life. I keep coming back to this recurring theme of desiring intimacy with Christ over all else. The intimacy with Christ is what will keep me going, keep me dreaming, and hold me even in the disappointments. Praying your joy will return to you in full and that through this difficult time, your intimacy with Christ will keep growing. Take care!


    1. shilkemann says:

      Thank you, Stacie! The theme of God’s will has been popping up a lot recently, and your comment really hits home for me. I think I do put a lot of things above my intimacy with Christ and being content with His will for my life. It is definitely something I need to think about!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s