“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV)
Text after text came pouring in on my cell phone. My friend’s 18 year old daughter, diagnosed with stage 2 hodgkin’s lymphoma, would only require 4 more chemo treatments instead of 8. Her message read, “Oncologist called!!! PET Scan looks really good. 4 months of chemo only total!!! Thank you Jesus!!”
Praising and rejoicing came from our small group of women, as prayers offered up in faith had been answered. We had witnessed a calmness and peace from this family as they faced this journey; from the initial finding of the lump, to the waiting for the diagnosis, to the description of the treatment and the actual side effects experienced. As a group, we had walked beside our friend offering support as it was needed.
This is only one of several difficult journeys our small connect group has been through this year. Each one of these amazingly strong women within our group carries their own story of disease, joblessness, lawsuits and needing to trust while they wait. What makes them all so special? Their choice to remain joyful in the face of affliction, placing all trust and belief in the One who has the power to save.
I have learned so much in the last two years, from these women as life has been teaching me to walk in faith. The last month has seen the biggest growth in this part of my spiritual maturing. As a woman who writes to encourage and share with others the tidbits of treasure given to me by God, I am also learning about confidence and faith in His instructions to me. I have questioned whether I am strong enough to put my writings out there for the world to read. Fearing rejection has hindered my progress in the past. I have held onto my writings and carefully chosen to whom I would send them.
When I was asked to write for Just Saying, I was hesitant, because it meant I no longer had control over who would read my pieces. I also had no delusions that what I wrote would be accepted by all. Was I ok with this? I believe I had to be. God was taking me to the next level in trusting him and believing that He was in control. Did I expect smooth sailing and not to face adversity or experience new challenges? No, how would I ever be stretched to learn more and to grow greater in my writing if it was all perfect?
It didn’t take long to run into my first hurdle. Only the second edition in and I was already in a panic ready to throw in the towel. Believing I was not qualified or educated enough to be placing my writings on the world-wide web, I was having second thoughts about continuing. I had made an error and I NEEDED to ensure that it got corrected. In both admitting my mistake and correcting it, a larger problem was created and I was now sitting in a messy situation. All along the way, there was one constant message that kept repeating over and over and over, “Wait and trust in God. Do not worry. Do not fear.”
Although I thought I had waited for God while correcting my initial mistake, I quickly came to realize, I was in fact running ahead in fear. It was this action which led to my greater mess. On the one hand I felt good about admitting to and correcting my mistake. I had faced my fear of having to admit my mistake and possibly making someone mad at me. I had gained a little more confidence because of this, yet the condescending words of the enemy came, wanting to see me down and out. Finally, I remembered King Jehoshaphat, “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3). I stopped running ahead of God and decided to listen; I sat down and opened my devotional before I did anything else. That same message came again, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15.) Reading a little further allowed me to receive that gentle hug every child needs from their father when a situation is finished. “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
With a whisper of love into my heart, He reminded me that mistakes are best when corrected and that I was still his chosen daughter. The message most clear however, was that when we resolve to inquire of the Lord, and wait for him; we can be confident that He will go before us. We can sit with our circumstances, and trust him to lead and direct us in how we should proceed, bringing us peace in our moments.
I now know, my rule will be 24 hours of reflection and prayer before moving forward. Quietness and time with God to hear his word, study his heart and gain his knowledge, will be my platform for wisdom. A gentle nudge will move me forward, while a still heart will see me placing what faces me, into his hands, waiting in faith and trusting the outcome will be for my good.
Whether life threatening, career ending or anxiety inducing, whatever it is that threatens to steal your joy, remember to “cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22.) When the fight has been fought or you feel defeated within, and fatigue shakes your faith; Jesus calls to you saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
These two scriptures added to the word I had received from the Lord earlier in the week, confirming that when we face difficulties, whether they are big to the world or just to us, they are best handled in the hands of God. “In quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15.)
Thank you that you see the hearts of your children. When our outside betrays us, and our actions speak louder than our desire inside to trust you, your discipline will gently lead us back to your Truth; we are loved, we are forgiven and we are yours in whom you delight. I pray your peace, will guide all to learn and seal in their hearts, the wisdom found in waiting upon you in all circumstances.