A month ago, I caught wind that I'd face something really hard, but that God would be with me. Time and time again the promise came that while I'd go through the fire and pass through the waters, I would not get burned, nor be overtaken to a point of drowning. I dreaded hearing those words because my overactive imagination tends to fear the worst. LOL.
When I felt God's reassurance that he'd bring me out of the other side of it, I realized that meant I'd likely have the blessing of being refined and washed clean and pure by the event or circumstance. So, I saved those promises on my computer and more promises came in pretty much the same theme, different wording. But always, that same scripture.
I felt God nudging me to hold fast to him and his word and to prayer and worship once I caught sight of the flames and the waves. I didn't want myself or my family member to be in this situation. Two things came to mind. Two fears. Two losses that I just really did not want to face.
Within a week, the first fear came to pass. My worst fear in that promise-happened-is happening right now. To me, to a family member I love more than life. I can't share details but suffice it to say it is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to face---and believe me, I've been through a lot. My faith is not shaken but my emotions are in ruins. Picture a shipwreck scattered along a debris-strewn shore after the worst hurricane you can imagine. Only my emotions are the hurricane and the debris the promise I shunned out of fear that the reason I'd need it wouldn't be. I lost hold of it thus running along the barren shore in a desperate re-gathering.
Until today-last night actually while walking around my church parking lot in gut raw prayer, peace finally won the war over my emotions and my soul. I'm grateful! So grateful God heard my prayers, saw my tears, my hurt, so raw I could not even enunciate it coherently and so the Holy Spirit prayed through me, prayed lifeboats of peace and hope and promise to me. I'm trusting that for the first time in weeks I won't wake up depressed and sad but hopeful and filled with joy.
The promise I abhored became an anchor I adored and a fire shield to my faith.
In the middle of literally dragging myself through the thick of it with God's help, I was able to tell that while the pain is raw nearly every minute of every day with no end or relief in sight, I see beats of hope thumping against my heart like its a bird cage and the hope in shards yet still alive like little mustard seeds knocking to be let out. Hope can be shattered and yet still alive.
Last summer, my daughter was stung by a dead jellyfish. Actually, she was stung, according to a beach community physician, "hundreds of thousands of times." How? The jellyfish apparently got in the path of a ship motor or boat propeller, then still floated through the ocean toward shore. My daughter swam through the particles, all of which stung her on impact. Within thirty minutes she was covered neck to ankles in the most horrible rash I've ever seen. Thousands upon thousands of microscopic pieces of that still-charged jellyfish kept stinging her because the particles got trapped in her swim clothes. Rubbing the rash made it worse.
Hope deferred is like that. Hope can be shattered and it still stings. One the other hand, hope can be shattered and it still sings. Hearts can be ripped apart like shards of glass and still beat. Believe me. I'd take her pain if I could. In the situation that prompted the promise from God, her heart was stung hundreds of times with microscopic letters. Double-minded utterances. Lies. Confusion. Broken promises. Retracted dreams. Deception. And most of all, by careless words-over and over and over.
One thing I've prayed, and that we've learned through this is that God is good even when we aren't. God is good, even when others mistreat us. God is good even when things don't turn out like we planned, or like someone promised or like we hoped. People change. Minds change. Plans change. But God? He never changes. His love will never change, will never go away. The miracle in the middle of this is that we were able to pray (and mean it) for not our will but God's will utmost. God made us instantly able to give grace, forgiveness, prayers of blessing. Also miraculous is the glimpse I'm already seeing that my girl is not only going to survive this but she's going to thrive this. In her faith, in her walk with God, in her emotions, in her trust, in her health and wellbeing with future relationships.
The beauty in this is that God intervenes. That his perfect will will be done. His plans will come to pass. He is a good, good father. He loves us. We are his children. His plans are better than ours. Much better. His ways are higher than our ways and he knows our lives from beginning to end. Hallelujah!
Another blessing is her instant ability, by God's grace, to forgive-and yet set healthy boundaries. She's not wavering in her faith. She's running toward rather than away from God in her pain and frustration. She's going to more than survive this heartbreak. She's going to thrive it in God's strength and she's going to be anchored in God's promises. He never lies. He says what he means and he means what he says. Praise the Lord! Many worship songs in this season are speaking to my situation. I took this personally because she's mine. She belongs to me. She also belongs to God and he loves her even more than I do if that's possible. I believe so because his love is bigger than anything. We will both come through this fire refined like gold-trusting in God alone-choosing to believe in trust and hope.
This was very long and I'm sorry for that. I pretty much opened my heart and bled onto the page. Bear with one more thing I have to say because it's important. If you're going through something hard, look to Jesus. Immerse yourself in his words. Seeks his face. Stay in his presence. His words-they are promises that counteract your pain and that uphold you when the waves and wind try to overtake you. Anchor your eyes and hope and heart to Jesus. Press in. Take his hand. He's reaching. He will not let you sink. He will not let you fall. He will lift you up. He will help you. Trust him.
Praying for you to not only just survive but to thrive in hardship, heartache, turmoil. Jesus loves you!