Recently our family was rocked to hear that my wonderful, kind, beautiful niece Debbie would be fighting a difficult battle in the months to come. When she heard the words bladder cancer she had the predictable responses of shock, fear, and sadness. Here is what I love about this woman. She took in the news, processed it, determined that she would fight with every ounce of strength she possessed and made it known that she was trusting God. Deb adopted a verse from Isaiah for the difficult road ahead.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)
This past week Debbie enjoyed a family beach getaway as she prepared for battle. Debbie knelt down and wrote this in the sand.
I loved the imagery of writing these words of trust on the sand canvas of God’s creation. But it also reminded me that soon the waves and tide would wash away those words. Each day will require a commitment from Deb to the truth that God is always present in her trial. Each day we, as the community who love her, will join in prayer and encouragement for Debbie and others we love that are fighting battles.
When Joni went through her cancer journey we adopted a song from Casting Crowns.
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
The lyrics are a powerful reminder of who God is and that He is always there. I can’t explain why things happen. I have learned in my years of following Jesus that He does not let suffering go in vain. He brings beauty out of ashes. When I cannot see how any good can come out of a trial I trust my Abba Father in faith. Believe me I don’t always “feel” that but I can move forward in faith because I have seen over and over how God redeems trials and that He is our hope in the storm.
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth
Peter talked about the inevitability of suffering. I love that he wrapped up that reality check with an incredible promise of hope.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5, NLT)
That is a promise that we can hold onto during the storm. Jesus meets us there and not in theory. He suffered. He agonized with God the Father. He knows the human condition. He has already been there. When you have nowhere else to turn but to Jesus you find out that you should have turned to Him first all along.
I am trusting that promise from 1 Peter for my dear niece Debbie today. I would be honored if you felt led to join Team Deb in this battle by praying for her and her family. This remarkable women has a big heart and she is trusting a bigger God. I am looking forward to a not too distant day when Debbie can share with joy how her faith won over fear.