(3)We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (4)Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; (5) in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; (6) in purity, understanding, patience, and kindness: in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; (7) in truthful speech and in the power of God, with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; (8) through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters, (9) known, yet regarded as unknown, dying yet we live on; beaten and yet not killed; (10) sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.
This scripture spoke to me today. We have faced many stumbling blocks in our lives, as many have, are, and will. This part of the letter from Paul says what we do still–we rejoice when we triumph. It is incredibly hard to rejoice when we are beaten and downtrodden. Some will choose to let those difficult trials bring them down and keep them down. To me this looks like the “always look up” passage.
Some ask, “How am I supposed to rejoice when I am so incredibly sad, broken, or disheartened? How, when my life is in shambles, and there is no end to the turmoil in sight?”
I cannot say that God is going to give you the resolution you desire. I cannot promise He will act in the time you expect or anticipate. I won’t begin to promise your time of trial will end because you have faith in Christ.
From our experience, God has simply given us a rope to the float that will give us reprieve through this storm. Sure, I would love for the boat to come, but God knows that I at least need the life ring so that I can endure the storm without completely succombing to the crashing waves.
God allowed numerous attacks in our lives, that is without question. Yet, each time, he threw us the life saver rope. Sometimes he threw just the rope, sometimes, the float, and many other times, he let the rescue boat swing by and swoop us out of the waters. What were some of our life savers, you ask? Oh, there have been so many.
In 2006, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. Terrified, knowing the outcome of childhood brain tumors, we felt alone as we traveled 200 miles by ambulance with our sweet little girl. Friends immediately swooped in, friends we didn’t expect. Some helped us pack, others provided meals, one even talked with me on the phone during that dreadful ambulance ride, less than 1 year after losing her own daughter, my student, to the dreaded beast. God didn’t make the tumor go away without treatment, but He certainly gave us who and what we needed during the time to know it would be okay.
Just under 3 years later, when she developed cancer again, we felt the waves crashed over our boat once again. I was terminated from my job of 10 years just a few weeks earlier. How were we supposed to take care of our struggling finances with one income and now a child with cancer? God provided the life ring. An unemployment check was written to me each week until we received reimbursement from an insurance policy I had taken years earlier. The policy paid our bills, covering my salary, almost to the penny, until her death. At her death, her life insurance policies secured our finances and provided funds to begin our non-profit foundation.
Many times, the pain of losing our first-born overwhelmed us. Each time, God gave us the words we needed through our youngest daughter. He spoke directly to us through her. She spoke from faith just like her sister. She shared wisdom well beyond her six years, giving us faith and courage to face each day without our sweet girl.
Our hearts are broken, never to be mended in quite the same way. We have been poor, beaten, sorrowful, and have had nothing, but God has shown us otherwise repeatedly.
We can be poor in our own homes, but we can still “give” to others-maybe we can share a meal, say a prayer, or listen to a friend in need.
We have been beaten, but not killed. Elizabeth’s death broke our hearts and trampled our spirits, but we are still alive and must live for Madeline.
We have been sorrowful in our grief, but we have rejoiced with friends who have welcomed new babies after their own loss. We have rejoiced in simple joys each day, beautiful sunsets, laughter in the pool, giggles over tickling toenail polish, the accomplishments of family members.
We felt we had nothing-no first-born, no job, no purpose. God showed us we have a second-born who needs us, no job allows us to put family first, and now I have time for the works of our foundation, Hugs of Hope, Inc.
Where are you in your brokenness? Is your body beaten, your spirit crushed, your finances depleted, your faith wavering?
Where are you in your graceousness? What has God allowed in your life, despite your brokenness?
God doesn’t promise He will make you rich, heal your body, save your loved one, or prevent you from touching the fire. He promises to be there with you, a silent partner in your restoration. The crashing waves will eventually calm, the storm will pass. He will be there. Will you thank Him then as often as you curse Him now?