Ever wish you’d been warned? A word of caution is valuable. It perks our attention to catch what we might otherwise miss. In nursing school we were trained to watch for signs and symptoms in order to spot and treat problems early. Missing certain cues could lead to death.
When I was in my late 30′s God granted me an invaluable warning. One day out of the blue He said, “When you turn 50 it will be tough.”
An eight-word alert. That was it.
I’d have pursued the issue but it was so far down the line. It wasn’t until I suffered depression that I remembered the warning. Life had been squeezing me through a wringer with one loss after another, my mother, then my father, our daughter’s declining health, loss of a business, and my own breast cancer at a time we were without health insurance.
Oh mercy. Tough. That was putting it lightly.
In my early 50′s this old warning gained meaning and brought comfort. Suddenly I realized that God had known of these events long ago. He knew how they would hurt but allowed them to come my way. He essentially gave them permission to drain me dry.
Why did God allow my suffering? It wasn’t because He didn’t love me. His warning was to soften the blow.
It was here I began to understand one key to peace; realizing I am not a victim of random chaos and my world is in no way falling apart. God gave me a heads up because these adversities would be mine, custom designed to teach me personally.
Jesus warned His disciples too. He told them He would soon have to leave them and that they would undergo their own troubles. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Just think for a moment of all the potential tragedies God has kept out of your life. Then compare them to what He has allowed. Why would He choose one ordeal to sift into your life over another? It’s because He’s delicately forming you into an image more like of Him. One tool doesn’t fit everyone. We each need a gadget best suited for us.
Like sandpaper, trials can soften our rough edges if we let them. It smooths bitterness into kindness, anger into love, anxiety into peace, and impulsiveness into self-control. There is no need to feel singled out when it comes to misfortune, we all meet up with it one time or another. The question isn’t why do we encounter problems but how can they help us grow up to be more like Christ.
Take a moment to view your adversity more from God’s perspective. Trials can be terrifying when we are alone, but with Christ we have peace because He has overcome! He is in control and cares only for what is best for you.
Take heart, whatever has come your way He has allowed for a very good reason.
Life has been busy lately with one very ill child for the last 8 months. I’ve wanted to blog or at least say hello but my heart just wasn’t in to it. When Dani is sick I don’t care about much of anything. I sit in the hospital with her with the TV off or on and muted, books closed, and mind focused solely on her. I pray a lot but she’s been so ill for so long that during this last stint in the hospital I even had trouble praying.
Jimmy is in between jobs and will not take another assignment until her health improves. I’ve been homebound with her for so many months that now each day he nearly pushes me out the door saying, “Go, do whatever you want, shop, get coffee and read your book. Relax and enjoy time to yourself.”
I am thankful for my newfound freedom. Today I went to Bible study… it had been so long and oh did I need it. I hit rock bottom a couple of weeks ago. I was down right mad at God for not healing Dani. Watching her suffer had become more than I could take. I had only one thing to say to Him. I said, “Lord, don’t leave me but leave me alone! I am so mad at you I don’t know what to do.”
I’ve calmed down since then, God didn’t leave me and I didn’t leave Him but I need to resume quality time with Him.
Our teacher went over the spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s word. We do this by,
- Reading it slow and deliberate
- Letting it sink in
- Considering how it applies to our life
- Pondering it
- Mulling it over and over
- Making special note of its richness – don’t you love that word – richness!
She used the example, “The Lord is my Shepherd”
- What does “The” mean in this passage? — It points to the one and only God, our Lord.
- What does the word “Lord” say to you? — Not mere human but Lord and King, our sovereign Savior who is above all.
- What does “is” say? — The Lord is mine. Not was, will be, or might be but He is.
- What about “my”? — God is personal. He is mine, now and always.
- What does a “Shepherd” do? — He guides, protects, feeds, rescues, nurtures, loves, cares for, and defends His sheep.
I have spent the day meditating on these five words. They reminded me that my Shepherd is Dani’s Shepherd too. He cares, loves, defends, nurtures, and protects our little lamb. He knows she is sick and is working to make her well. I can trust in my Shepherd for He is good.
I can’t tell you how this feeds my soul. I nearly drained my pen dry taking notes today. It was so refreshing and I look forward to meditating on another verse tomorrow and the next day and the next.
Are you going through a trial that has you drained? Perhaps like me you are even a little mad at God. If so, He understands. Acknowledge it and move forward. Begin talking to Him again and perk your ears to hear what He has to say to you. Meditate on His word and apply it to your life. There is no greater love than that of your Shepherd. He is watching over you with an intense everlasting love.
I pray you feel the presence of the Lord this day.
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.” Acts 6:1-3
The Christian church was new and comprised of two kinds of Jews, Hellenistic (Greek, not blood born) and Hebraic (blood born). Somehow, if you could imagine, the Greek Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. They weren’t not invited to the occasional feast but neglected daily nutrition. When the original Christ-taught twelve heard about this they gathered all the disciples to choose seven men to serve these women.
Notice who was choosen, seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom. Men of good reputation brimming with the Spirit of God – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They weren’t on good behavior to get the job but were men of good reputation. Their lives had shown an untarnished walk with God over time, qualifying as worthy to give the greatest care, the kind that would please Christ.
Men of honor were assigned to the widows, the best of the best. It wasn’t considered overkill either. The high-ups didn’t question handing these saints over to this duty, it was deliberate. The widows had nothing to give and could only take, but they were worth it. Why? Because God cares about everyone, big, small, known, unknown. He loved the widows so much He entrusted them in the care of the most trustworthy of men.
It helps me to remember this as I care for our special needs daughter. She’s 25 years old and I’m, well, no spring chicken. I get tired now more than ever before but God wants the best for her. She is of great value! When I walk with Him I allow His Spirit to fill me to the brim. That is when I am strengthened and she is best cared for.
Have you ever felt overqualified for a task God’s called you to do? I remember once having a job as a nurse in a facility for special needs children where our daughter attended. I had no office, no phone, and very little nursing duties. Most of my time was filled with checking children’s backpacks for notes from parents, since most of the children could not speak, and preparing their lunches. I grumbled one day to my husband that I did everything but nursing there and his response wasn’t what I expected. He said, “You should be willing to do anything at work. As long as it is not illegal or immoral you should be willing to scrub toilets if they ask and be grateful you have a job.”
He was right. His words sobered me up and taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. In fact I practice this philosophy still today caring for our daughter. It is good to remember I am not above giving her my best. Though I would love to do lots of things in life, I’m not called to do them. I’m called to serve her.
Is God calling you to do something “smaller” than you had planned? How does it make you feel? If it bugs you chances are you’re lacking a measure of God’s Spirit and wisdom. I can say this because I’ve been there. Sometimes my call flat rubs me the wrong way. I’ve learned, however, that when it does it’s a sure sign I’ve drifted from the heart of God.
“And being found in appearance as a man, He (Christ) humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8
You wouldn’t believe how dusty this blog was after two months neglect. I can’t give what I don’t have and I’ve been short on words for a good twelve months. Our daughter has been ill on and off, sometimes severe, for a couple years and nothing drains me more than her suffering.
Our recent battle was with MRSA, a deadly flesh-eating bacteria. It landed her in the hospital in October and has attacked three more times since. A severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic further complicated her recovery, leaving me without words to pray let alone blog.
Whenever I find myself wordless, rest assured God is not. That’s when the Holy Spirit intercedes, translating any pain or frustration to our heavenly Father. On several occasions God pointed me to Galatians 6:9, reminding me not to grow tired of doing that which is good. So I’d hold this verse up against my life and ask myself,
- What is noble and right in my life? It’s the invisible act of caring for our Autistic daughter. God has given her to us and He loves her abundantly. This means she and her care are top priority.
- Why am I weary? Because she is sick so often and so much. I had hoped for more in life. I want to be crisis-free. I’m tired of fighting for that which I cannot obtain.
- Where is my heart’s focus? On the here and now, her illness, and our confinement.
- How can I gain strength? By setting my sites on “the appointed season” ahead, heaven’s future beyond this fallen world.
I feel better when I think of heaven, beyond the here and now. Dani does too. She smiles and sometimes cries when we tell her she’ll be able to talk when she gets to heaven. What a wonderful day that will be. No death, pain, illness, disability, or loss. Heaven will be a state of perpetual good, nothing bad, nothing alarming. God will be our light, no darkness anywhere, any time. All will be safe and secure.
Until then scripture instructs us to choose courage. Courage to do good. For me it’s the quiet behind the scenes job of caring for a special needs adult daughter. For you it may be holding a single-parent family together, being a godly example to co-workers, or encouraging others through cards, calls, meals, or visits. It may be praying for a wayward child, being a friend to the lonely, or an ear that listens with love and not judgement. Whatever you do, if it’s of noble quality, it will require a measure of tenacious courage.
Are you tired of doing something good? If so, where is your heart’s focus? If it is to witness the results this side of heaven you will eventually grow tired and become stressed. Our job is not to determine outcomes and put them on display, but rather to be the “good” element of influence along the way.
May courage to do good be yours today!