Have you ever been in terrible circumstances and thought there was no way things could get any worse? I have, and you’re probably thinking of tough times and critical circumstances you’ve been through too, right? 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 too terrible to recount. Reflecting on seasons of sorrow, sickness, or situations that threaten our tomorrows reminds us to cherish the gift of life and to live out loud in love through all seasons.
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 with twenty other patients having the same appointment time. Some days we seem to wait with dignity as time passes rather quickly; other days we don’t play the waiting game per Dr. Seuss’ directions and find ourselves stuck in waiting bliss. 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. Dr. Herring warned us to be very cautious and always get Cameron to a doctor’s office quickly if he had a high fever. A few months after his surgery, Cameron’s fever hit the roof; I panicked. Running into the clinic with my sick little boy pitifully begging me to slow down, I didn’t stop to wait with the other patients and their parents. Our son was sick and I thought it was a life or death situation, since he had no spleen to fight off the infection and high fever. So, 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 our Lord, our loved one, 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 in good times and bad, terrific or terrible situations, through 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 remembered 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 Lord.’
Yet, the yearning to stand and walk around that fountain grew stronger. So, I closed my journal, looked around the room hoping no one would notice, and began walking. With each lap around that fountain, my fear of what people thought and joy of what my Father thought gave an inner strength I can’t explain. I held my head high and walked in faith for walls of sickness to come down, for 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 did rise up and reach out for hope, help, and healing. 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 took courage; getting stuck in pity and crying over our circumstances would have opened the door for the devil. Repeating verses of healing and constantly telling Satan to get behind me, to flee, that we belonged to the Lord, gave courage to stand firm with Christ in our crisis. The Lord loves it when we rise up and reach out in faith. Tim’s legacy 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. What could have destroyed our family made us stronger when we gave it to God and trusted Him to bring sunshine from sorrow.
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 to 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 and lifeless. Turn to Habakkuk 3 17-19 where 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 with praise and worship.
Do terrible circumstances cause you to wonder what is happening in our world today? Have Christians become silent instead of standing up and speaking out for what is right and good in God’s sight? When we think there is nothing we can do or things can’t get any worse in our world…we can choose to rise up and reach out in love, praising our Lord and rejoicing. What might seem foolish to man is honor to God…and victory in Jesus lasts for eternity. Are you ready to rise up?