A high crag near Lake Odessa, Colorado Rockies
Last year around this time I was about to step foot across the threshold of one of the most difficult times in my life. Then, it wasn’t possible to imagine the challenges that a journey through breast cancer would involve.
The emotional stress of a diagnosis, the fear of outcomes, the ravages of chemo and the exhausted steps of moving through life were not just things I experienced. My family experienced them, too. At one point, family tragedy compounded the difficulties of sickness. Jagged edges of grief sliced us all to the core.
Families are families because they intimately share life. Joys, celebrations, laughter and success are celebrations that weave like golden strands through families. Sickness, fear and tragedy weave strands as well. I am fully convinced that without God as the Master Weaver, my family would have slipped over the precipice before this journey was fully underway. At times, we clung with a fingertip grip along an impossibly sheer rock face, knowing there was no way to hold on or move forward. Letting go of our tenuous hold and crying out to God for His merciful grip was the only way to survive.
God is the One who wove faith into our picture of fear, calm into our fabric of panic, and hope into the garment of dread that satan wanted to shroud us in. Only God can turn devastation into development and panic into peace. Only He can bring healing from hurt and hope from hopelessness.
As satan did with Job, I believe he asks God, here and now, for permission to inject difficulty into the lives of believers, which he obviously intends for harm. Only the Sovereign Lord can work that which is intended for destruction into good.
Good, however, is usually defined differently in God’s vocabulary. Good, to Him, may sometimes mean spiritual and character development, a re-fabrication of our fallen selves into a new creation that looks more like the character of Jesus. It comes at a price we would not willingly pay; but He knows that the sharpest tools we run from: pain, tragedy, illness and suffering, are often the tools which are most effective in the refinement process.
Do I feel refined? I wish I could say, “YES!!” Perhaps better questions are these: Is God able? Is He merciful? Is He in control? Can He work good out of tragedy? Does He love as a father, with compassion and sensitivity to what is truly in the best, eternal interest of His child?
YES!! To all those questions, and more. That answer isn’t just a coined response. It’s an answer forged in the fire of tribulation.
God has been with my family and I every single step of this journey. He will continue to be with us as I walk through remaining treatment and continue to regain physical strength. He will be with all of us as we move forward, past one of the rockiest stretches of life we have ever encountered.
He has comforted, blessed, healed, taught, guided, restored and provided. He has strengthened our family ties with the knots of sickness, heartache, loss and grief. He has been intimately involved in the detail of our lives, and we are thankful, for He is good, and He has been our refuge.
In a morning devotion with my girls, we talked about trouble. “What can it do in someone’s life?” I asked. “Make people run to God or away from God?”
“It depends,” my 13 year old said. “Some people get angry at God, and run away.”
“That’s true,” I replied. “What have you seen your mom and dad do?”
“Run to Him,” she said, without hesitation.
That’s not to our credit. It just shows our weakness and God’s strength.
If the troubles we have endured served only as an example to our teens of where to run when trouble comes, then that would be enough; but God has done so much more than that.
Do you need to know which way to run? Has the global pandemic forced you onto a treacherous trail of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty? Has it added to the normal, daily troubles that already exist, so that you’re clinging only with a fingertip grip? Run to the God of all Creation who wants to be intimately involved in the detail of your life.
Seek Him. Read the Word. Confess your mistakes and weaknesses. (We all have them!) Realize that you are not in control. Relinquish your life, your will, your fears, your problems, to the Lord. Ask Him to move you forward in the way He wants you to go.
Psalm 18:1-2 (MSG)
“I love you, God – You make me strong. God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God – the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.”