"What happened to your Insta?" Ella texted last week. "Your handle is [a foreign-sounding name] now?"
I tapped my app and couldn't even get into my account. My username, password, e-mail address, and phone number were no longer recognized.
I was horrified: My account was to me a photo journal, a pictorial overview of seasons and ideas, of kids and events. Last Christmas we popped my Insta up on the big screen in the living room and scrolled through highlights of 2017 as shared with family and friends over the course of the year. The big ice storm in February? It was there. The Father's Day airplane ride through the clouds with pilot Ella? Our anniversary and our kids blowing out candles? All there.
And now, all gone.
I started frantically attempting to contact Instagram, reading on how to contact Instagram, and what other people did who had a similar experience. Since I could still view the account through my daughter's login I could see that the photos were still there and over the next couple of days I took screenshots of every page. Not great, but better than losing the entire photo chronology and the words telling what each pic meant to me.
At last a glimmer of hope: Instagram contacted me back. I followed directions, took a picture of myself with a hand-written code, e-mailed it to their support team and waited. Late last night I got the final clearance: I could log back in and reclaim my account! I sat on the edge of the bed this morning, followed more directions, and...
...all that was left were several pornographic profile pictures. The account was an empty shell.
Just earlier this week I was reminded of William Carey's tragic loss in a fire. The pioneer missionary, who had already given up so much to follow God, lost all his Bible translation work—the labor of years—in a single night. He wept and wrote, “In one short evening the labors of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God. I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection of which they seemed capable . . .”
Why would God waste years of arduous effort? Didn’t He want His Word to be given to the needy people of India? Carey concluded, “The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to Him.” And he started over.
My loss is nothing compared to Carey's, but it's still huge to me. It feels like I've been robbed. And like Carey, my option is clear: "look more simply to Him." It's His story I'm telling and if it pleases Him to obscure a chapter for now, that's best.
I can start over.
The great thing God so often reveals through loss is that He is less concerned about what I produce for Him—and more concerned about me. He does not look at His people merely as machines for the purpose of accomplishing a job; He looks at His people as people—people He loves so intensely that He won't even let work for Him get in the way. He's building something spectacular out of loss: a kingdom where no moths or rust or thieves—not even hackers—can diminish the splendor of His workmanship or steal His gold.
© Copyright September 2018 by Robert G. Robbins