Have you endured situations that strengthened your faith yet tested your character? We all have encountered such times. It’s certainly understandable to take a moment, bow your head, wipe a tear, speak words of confirmation and glorify God for guiding you through tests and trials. Reflecting on seasons of sorrow, sickness, or situations that threaten our tomorrows remind us to cherish the gift of life and to live out loud in love every day.
One season, when Tim and I traveled to Chapel Hill daily and waited in a crowded room for radiation treatments, came to mind today as I read a hymn of faith from the third chapter of Habakkuk. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” God takes pleasure when His children rejoice and praise Him even in terrible times, even when waiting for Him to strengthen our hearts.
Waiting has never been my cup of tea, especially waiting in traffic, slow check-out lines, and doctor’s offices. Some days we seem to wait with dignity as time passes rather quickly; other days we don’t play the waiting game per Dr. Suess’ directions and find ourselves stuck in a waiting place. Surely, you’ve watched people waiting patiently and wondered where such composure and kindness comes from. Yet, those same people facing different circumstances could easily lose control and make spectacles of themselves. I did that once, well…maybe once or twice. How about you? Does waiting bring out the best or worst in you?
Cameron was only eight years old when a skateboard accident left him without a spleen. We were told to get him to a doctor’s office quickly if he had a high fever. The first time he was sick, after his accident, I charged into the doctor’s office like a wild woman on a mission to save my son. My motherly instinct kicked in with little thought that other waiting parents might have children with circumstances worse than mine. We got help and walking back through the packed waiting room, I took time to apologize for my aggressive behavior. God understands that we get all stirred up and will make mistakes as we go through life. Yet, He expects us to rewind and recount how we act and react. When facing tribulation and trials, there will be times when our actions and reactions will not be pleasing to the Lord, loved ones, even strangers who watch in awe and wonder what in the world we are doing. We are wise to be still and wait on the Lord through terrific or terrible situations, heartbreaks or happiness. Waiting on the Lord, being of good courage, and experiencing Him strengthening our hearts is confirmation that our God is an awesome God who cares and will carry us through the fire when we walk in faith.
My journal is my trustworthy companion when waiting is to be done. It goes where I go and holds nuggets of writing — precious and priceless! Today, I read a 2006 entry and remember writing those words while waiting for one of Tim’s radiation treatments. Our circumstances looked bleak yet we held to hope through each trial and teardrop. When Tim headed back for his treatment, I wrote and listened to the tranquil sound of water cascading from the fountain in the middle of the huge waiting room. I began to hear the faint whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart saying, “Walk around the fountain seven times and praise Me.” I thought, “What? Not here, not now, that happened with the walls of Jericho! People will think I’m crazy.”
Yet, the yearning to walk intensified as the fear of what people might think waned. So, I closed my journal and took baby steps of faith toward the fountain. One lap…two…three…my pace quickened as I walked in faith for walls of sickness to come down and healing to raise up hope in our hearts. Praising God in all things, even terrible circumstances, pleases Him and opens the door to healing and happiness.
Surely, you’re thinking I made a spectacle of myself that day in Chapel Hill. Actually, I count that as a milestone in my walk of faith, a day when I rose up out of my comfort zone and obeyed. Foolish as it might seem, when God speaks to our hearts, we are wise to listen, discern, and follow His lead. God knew more than either of us did that day. We both had cancer. Our time together was waning as we faced seasons of sorrow and sickness. Tim received God’s best healing: — heaven; I was healed months later — here! Both healings were in God’s plan for our lives. Today, I praise God for working things out for good in our lives according to His purpose. My journal writing reminds me of a season when rising up wasn’t easy. Repeating verses of healing and constantly telling Satan to get behind us — that we belonged to the Lord — gave me courage to stand firm with Christ in our crisis. The Lord loves it when we rise up and reach out in faith. Seeds Tim had sown in his lifetime and my promise to serve the Lord and give Him my best after healing, opened the door to begin a ministry and give help and hope to people in need through Tim’s Gift, Inc. Encouraging people to cherish the Lord and their loved ones before it is too late is my daily challenge. Families are endangered, under attack by Satan! Yet, he has no power over us when we belong to Jesus and proclaim it! What could have destroyed our family made us stronger when we gave it to God and trusted Him through the valley. God reveals His plans like puzzle pieces that all fit together perfectly through the seasons of our lives. Obeying, discerning, and doing what He speaks to our hearts propels us toward His plans. Divine signs brought direction for me in 2010 when James Vann entered my life; three years later I became his wife. Missing puzzle pieces continue to bring blessings as we enjoy serving Him and loving out loud in our sunset seasons. God brought happiness to our broken hearts.
He will do the same for you. Many of you face terrible circumstances and think there is no way out. There is an open door for help and healing when you praise God and put it in His Hands. You might be without a job, with addictions, sick, in bondage that no one knows about, in debt, alone with circumstances that look hopeless. In Habakkuk 3: 17-19, we are told that in desperate and barren circumstances, the response that will enable us to go on with strength is to rejoice in the Lord. Even with tremendous pressures and difficulties, we can rise above them if we choose to focus on the unchanging faithfulness and endless love of God.
Do terrible circumstances curtail your faith? When it seems our world is crumbling like a cookie we can choose to rise up, renew our hearts and minds, reach out in love, and rejoice over our salvation and relationship with the Savior. God’s ways are higher; He knows what puzzle pieces fit perfectly and will put it all in place if we trust and obey. Rise up in faith and protect your tomorrows today.