God Doesn’t Work on the Barter System

“In the midst of my brokenness and hurt, I was like Hagar. I had nothing to offer but to say, ‘I’m here and I trust you Lord.’”

“When I began having conflict in my marriage, I was a wreck because I thought I deserved more than what was happening in my marriage,” said Laura Helms. “I was living with an unrealistic expectation that God owed me something. I expected the Lord to provide a good life for me because I was doing all of the things He asked of me. But God doesn’t work on a barter system, and it took going through one of the hardest seasons of my life to understand this and allow God to change my perspective.

“We came to Watermark in 2012, and I thought we would just disappear in the crowd and get lost because of the size of the church. I wanted the intimacy a small church brings, but thought we’d never find it here. We pursued membership anyway and got plugged into a Foundation Group for newly married couples.

“Because of the difficulties in our relationship, we were encouraged to go through re:generation together. I agreed to go, focusing on how I wanted God to fix my husband. Maybe I’d learn a few tips along the way in re:gen. But, God has a funny way of stopping me dead in my tracks sometimes.

“For the first time, I found a place where it was okay to be hurt and broken. It was here that I realized I was playing that barter system with God, and I was bitter and angry with Him for not providing the life I thought I deserved. It was through this process of wrestling with God that He showed to me the most important thing in my life was not my circumstances or marriage or my own desires. It was my relationship with Him! The Lord loved me so much and still wanted a relationship with me despite my futile efforts to manipulate Him into getting what I wanted.

“Through the struggles and changing circumstances in my life, I gained a real understanding of God and who He is. I learned that God is for me, not against me, and that He works all things for good and His glory. (Romans 8:31-32; 8:28) I learned that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain,’ and His contentment changed my perspective. (1 Timothy 6:6) God changed my heart, but my circumstances didn’t change. Although my home life didn’t change, the way I perceived God, interacted with His Word, and trusted in Him did change.

“In 2016, my marriage ended, and I was living with my parents. It felt like I was back at square one. I wrestled with believing that God is good and trustworthy; nothing in my life felt good at the time. As I was sitting in my childhood bedroom on the floor crying, a college friend reached out to me and reminded me of the story of Hagar in Genesis. A slave, Hagar had fled into the desert from the abuse of her master. She had no idea where she would go from there. An angel of the Lord appeared to her and explained that God had a plan for her and the child she was carrying. In Genesis 16, Hagar calls God, ‘El Roi,’ which means ‘the God who sees me.’ (Genesis 16:13) In the midst of my brokenness and hurt, I was like Hagar. I had nothing to offer but to say, ‘I’m here and I trust you Lord.’

“When I walked into Divorce Care, I felt helpless and that I no longer had a place where I belonged in the church. I was met once again with love and people who reminded me that God is still here for me and He doesn’t waste my brokenness and hurt. I gained the intimacy in a church family I was looking for, and through my seasons of going through a Foundation Group, a married community group, and a singles community group, He has put people in my life who remind me constantly that I am loved by them, I am loved by Him, and I have a purpose and a story to share. He will never stop comforting me so that I may comfort others and share with them the same comfort God gave me. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

“In spite of the divorce, I still have joy, hope, and things to look forward to in my life. I praise God every day that He didn’t give me that life I had planned for myself; life with Christ today is better than what I could’ve expected. I thank the Lord for what I’ve been through, because I know Him better now and have more contentment than I ever did as a married woman. He constantly reminds me that I still have a purpose and a story to share. I am loved and fully known. So, no more expectations of what tomorrow may bring; no more bartering for what I want. Today, I’m going to trust God and find my contentment in Him because He is worth it.”

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