The words “Trust in the Lord” are so simple and yet so powerful. These words speak a truth that is so profound and should be a daily part of our walk with God. Yet when faced with a hard circumstance, sometimes things that are unexplainable, we fall into distress and the temptation to look to our own strength and not God.
I have never truly understood and experienced the meaning of those words until my husband and I were faced with our immigration situation. This was a time in which we had to endure being separated due to the governments rule on our lives. Man, had decided that it was their choice for us to be separated for what we thought at the time was going to be at least a year. However, looking back I can say with the utmost boldness that it was not man or the government that had the final say in our lives. Yes, they did hold some authority, but when I think about what it means to truly hold authority, I am reminded of the passage in Matthew where Jesus Christ tells Pilat that the authority he is given was from God alone.
“10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:10-11
Here was Jesus standing in front of a man who had the authority to either rule in favor of His crucifixion or go against it. Yet, Jesus knew and believed that the true authority lies with God and God alone.
Throughout our situation God truly taught us what it meant to trust in His control, timing, and faithfulness.
When my husband and I first got engaged, we immediately jumped into making plans and thinking about what our future together would be like. We talked about renovating the house, going on road trips, going for long walks in the nearby walking trails, trying out new recipes and so on. We dreamed about what it would be like just to have a normal, everyday routine. Being that we were in a long-distance relationship, we often treasured the weekends and time that we had together.
One thing that could keep us going throughout our relationship was that we knew one day we would no longer be separated. At the beginning of our relationship, we prayed that God would lead and guide our relationship throughout us talking, dating, engaged and into marriage. We saw God control every little step that we took and even when we felt like there was a situation that should have ended badly, God took care of it. He was truly in control of every step we took.
We must admit, up until we were faced with this situation, God had truly paved the way to allowing for things to come together. It was not hard keeping in touch, making trips back and forth to see each other, and our wedding plans went off without a hitch. So, we thought that when it came time for us starting our lives together, that too would go off without any problems.
May 15, 2016 was the day that started our immigration journey. We had packed my bags, loaded up the car, said goodbye to my family, and made our way to the American Border to officially start our lives in Ohio. To make a long story short, I was turned back from being able to cross with him because to our innocent ignorance, our paperwork was not completed and we were told to harshly stay away from ever crossing the border until my paperwork was completed.
The overwhelming feeling of sadness, anger and shock I felt that day was like nothing I had ever expected. I was in disbelief that I would once again have to be separated from my now husband and we were at a loss with how long it would be before we could start our lives together. I remember returning to Toronto that day and thinking why on earth would God let this happen? This was well beyond my strength and ability to handle. I heard about this horrible stuff happening to other people, but here I thought that I was somehow “exempt” from things like this happening. I was so caught up in my sadness over the situation that all I could do was cry and expect to get sympathy from those around me.
However, we almost immediately saw God’s controlling hand in our situation. The day I got back to Toronto, news had spread to my cousin who was a recent graduate from law school about our situation. His advice, without any hesitation was to hire an immigration lawyer. To jump ahead, in about a week and a half, he was able to help us track down and hire one of the best U.S. immigration lawyers in the field. We had been praying about which attorney to go with and He answered our prayer within that short span of time. From that point on, all our paperwork, documents, and fees were handled with great care through our attorney. Each day we would pray that God would give us and our lawyer guidance and as the months went by, God took control of each step. There was not a single piece of information that did not go unnoticed or triple checked by our lawyer. Each new step we took, went through the system as smoothly as possible. God’s controlling hand was moving in ways that we did not expect.
There was one main incident in which we would say, stands out as being one of the most profound and powerful displays of God’s control. After months of going through this process, we decided that maybe we could plan for a time to me go down to Ohio and visit. This would be the first time that I had tried to cross the border since being sent back. Since we had made a lot of progress in our paperwork, our lawyer thought that we would have a high chance of the border letting me cross. The last step that we had was simply waiting for our interview date that was scheduled in Canada. However, since I had been turned away before, there was a very good chance they would say no and give me a hard time about it. Along with the stress of being turned away, we were advised to go back to that same border that I was sent back from, which instilled the fear of coming face to face with the same border agent who had so harshly sent me back. To add to the list, we wanted to plan the trip at the exact time that my entire family and most of my friends were taking a trip to Egypt. I was not comfortable being left alone so we thought that it would be ideal for me to be able to spend some time in Ohio while my family were away. During the weeks leading up to us making the trip, we planned everything. We made a list of all the documents that we needed to have, went over what the border would ask and how I would answer, and every detailed event that could take place. We tried to prepare ourselves for every scenario possible and as we did it, we prayed that God would just take control of the officer that would view our case, the questioning, and how long we would spend there. God answered our prayer in a way that left us in awe of how awesome He is. From the moment we arrived at the border, to the time they questioned me and let me through, we saw God’s hand lead and direct each step. The officer did not even bother to question me about anything that occurred during the incident that lead to me being sent back. All she wanted to see was that my documents were in order. We were there for an hour at the most and that was because we were simply waiting for them to call my name. The actual process that it took for them to question me, check my documents and let me go was only half an hour. There were more reasons for them to turn me away, then for them to let me in and God’s hand took control and allowed for me to enter the states.
There were times when we waited for everything to come together that I would feel anxious and get panic attacks over something going wrong. My mind would go to places that would play out a scenario of being rejected, things being lost in the mail, the timing it would take. However, each time I felt myself start to drift into a place of doubt, I would remind myself that since my God could take control of the deathly lions that threatened Daniel, the Red Sea that parted for the nation of Israel, and the most powerful act of all: Jesus’ death and resurrection, then He can surely control my paperwork going through the system. There is nothing that is outside God’s sovereign hand.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
I think the hardest part about going through this process was waiting. At the very beginning we were told that it would probably take a year until my papers would be processed. That thought completely devastated me because I could not fathom having to be separated and do a long-distance marriage for that long. We were given the worst possible scenario and had to mentally prepare ourselves for the long wait.
Waiting on God to bring about a desired result is not only hard but on a personal level, it truly challenged my character and brings out one’s true colors. I was one who was known to be a patient person and the timing of this situation put that to the ultimate test. I kept having to pray and constantly remind myself that there was nothing that could be done to expedite the process.
With each step, we took, we were told that it would take at least a month to six weeks for things to get processed. One thing that I think we both learned throughout the waiting process was learning how to pray with faith. Praying and asking for God to show us that despite what the lawyer told us, that were on His time-clock for our lives.
I think there are two main events that took place in which we learned that His timing truly is perfect. The first was when I was first getting ready to leave my family, it was not an easy transition. Change can sometimes be very hard for some people and because we are all so close, it was very difficult for us to separate. My entire life was in Toronto. My family, friends, church and ministry were there and although I had convinced myself that it was time for me to let go, the other side was that I was not being sensitive to the fact that my family was not ready. God knew that it wasn’t time for me to move yet. At the time, trying to understand that me staying behind was about what I could do for my family and not what they could do for me, was very hard for me to accept. I understood that yes, God was still working on my family’s hearts and preparing for them to deal with a big change but accepting it was something that I was not ready for.
During the months that I spent with my family up until this process was over, I look back and see that it was a good thing that I got extra time with them. There was a lot that I would have missed out on had I been away. Also in God’s perfect timing, during the time that we would have just started our lives together, my husband had to do a lot of traveling for work. He was on the road a lot and I would have been left alone for the good part of the beginning of our marriage. So, in having that extra time with my family, they had more time to prepare for the move, I was not left alone and my husband did not have to worry about leaving me alone.
The other event was that in God’s perfect timing and providential plan, the entire process only took 6 months. We went from being told that it would take a year, to having all my paperwork process and completed, my immigration interview scheduled and done, and receiving my passport with my visa in the mail, in a matter of 6 months. I remember when we had received the good news from our lawyer, he was even pleasantly surprised at how fast things were moving.
God is always moving and working behind the scenes even when we think things are at a standstill. Trusting in God and His timing is not so much about the result; it is how we are responding during that time of waiting. It is about exercising our faith in trusting that in God’s sovereign plan, He has already worked out the details and I should faithfully wait.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
Throughout the entire process, God’s faithfulness remained clear and strong. Yes, we saw how He worked out the situation but it was more so that He remained faithful during the time of weakness in our faith and times when I would lose hope. At the very beginning of this process, I was in a dark place. I cried, screamed, and had a very bad attitude. I was angry that God would go from making things run so smoothly to suddenly ripping the rug out from underneath and causing me to land so hard. The hurt and pain I felt from having to be separated was deep and yet it left no wound or scar. During that time, God was still ever so faithful to my weakness and lack of faith. His Grace still reached down and reminded me that He loves me and forgave me for the times I fell short of believing that He would work things out.
I remember there was one night, I was lying in bed and the tears came flooding again. This time instead of just letting myself cry, I forced myself to pray even amid the tears. I prayed and told God that I was hurt, angry and frustrated. I told Him that I knew that He was good but that I needed His help to apply that truth to my life. I desperately cried out that I had no strength to make it through this on my own and if I was to make it, He needed to carry me. I was tired of crying and feeling angry. It had started to become exhausting and it was beginning to have a negative impact on my relationships with my family and friends. I hated the angry person that I had become and I needed to go back to that place where my faith was being fueled by God’s goodness and not what the result was going to be.
Through it all, it was God’s faithfulness that carried us through the entire process. At the very beginning everything looked bleak and hopeless. We were facing the unknown and had little to no control over our situation. Yet, we could trust that God was not taken by surprise and He had already planned the details and how everything was going to come together. He is a God who is loving, powerful and dependent.
Today we are so thankful for the joy that we have in being able to live out our marriage together. We thank God for all that He has done for us and will continue to do as we continue to look to Him to faithfully lead each step we take.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23