Difficulties come at the worst possible times, don’t they? We find more questions than answers in the middle of the pain, confusion, and darkness. We ask things like why this is happening to us (or my loved one) and how can God let bad things happen to good people? Those answers may never be found on this side of heaven, but God provides us with something more powerful and sustaining than answers. His love, guidance, and strength walk us through turbulent times with peace. Psalm 23 is popular at funerals. When we die in Jesus, there are no more shadows, darkness, and fear, but we do have plenty of it here on the earth. The worst of all attacks come on all fronts, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. God can inhabit each of these areas and, with his great love, will comfort and guide us as a shepherd does for his sheep.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Psalm 23:4
Simple; Not Always Easy
God’s most priceless gifts to us are housed within the simplest concepts, easy enough for a child to understand. We complicate some of the most straightforward principles like salvation, worship, prayer, and faith. There is nothing we can do to earn a spot in heaven but we try. The price of purity is too high; even if we die for him, it won’t atone for a lifetime on the earth. On the flip side, we get mad at God for our trials or throw up our hands and think it is all God or nothing. In this, we fail to realize that he helps us walk through them. Sometimes we have to put some “Try in Our Trials.” He knows every single tear and its cause. It’s our job is to give him the burdens and keep getting back up. God is the closest to us when we are hurting.
You have kept count of my tossings;[a] put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?Psalm 56:8
My Cancer Journey
Sometimes we face a tragedy that requires nothing less than a miracle. This is God’s specialty. Today, I’m thankful for the treasures I received through cancer, or what I call my valley of the shadow of death. The day I got diagnosed, I was in complete shock, overwhelmed, and confused. In that state, I called God, and he answered me though I wasn’t in a condition to receive. God showed me how to trust him but also taught me strategy. It wasn’t because I was a calm, spiritual person, but God heard me within my humble state of sheer desperation. He didn’t send me angel messengers or arrive in a cloud with lightning bolts. I didn’t feel his spirit holding my hand. Still, the tragedy of the situation helped me put the reigns in his hands, and he redeemed a hopeless situation.
The spirit of a man sustains him in sickness…Proverbs 18:14
I Felt Inadequate
One of the best things we can do is ask God for his guidance in handling it and be desperate enough to trust that he will. Even though I felt inadequate to receive anything from God, I was desperate (and distracted enough) sufficient to put that aside. In these situations, we see that our judgment of ourselves doesn’t matter. God is the judge of all souls, and he uses a different measuring stick than we do. Thank God 🙂 When we’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, he sees us through that lens of cleanse. (Yep, corny, but it’s the simple things.) The more tragic the situation, the clearer our 20/20 vision becomes. We can release self-judgment and fall on to him for his mercy. There are few things sweeter than that for God, and he makes it sweet for us too.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;Psalm 34:15
How He Led Me
God led me through my day of diagnosis, though I was alone. My hubby was out of town, and I didn’t inform my kids about the gravity of this appointment. Though I thought I’d done everything to prepare myself for the worst, I wasn’t ready. The closer I got to the doctor revealing the news, the more it became apparent that I was grossly underequipped. Cancer was too strong for me, for anyone, really. I asked God to guide my thoughts with how to think, which questions to ask and what I should do. Though I was in shock, I asked, and he led me through that diagnosis experience. It was one of the first miracles I received through my cancer journey, but definitely not the only one.
For the Lord gives [skillful and godly] wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.Proverbs 2:6
God is practical. We are spiritual beings, but we also live life in a body, with a soul (mind, will, and emotions), and we function by the rules on earth. We can’t ignore and must address those earthly needs and vulnerabilities. When I came home from the diagnosis and had some alone time, I asked God for a game plan to do what I could do to help my body fight. God guided me to in very practical ways. He even had me purify my diet and begin to move physically. This strategy helped my body to fight adverse chemo effects and cancer. He dealt with my horrible sleeping habits. When I slept well, which sometimes required meds, I better handled the challenges emotionally and mentally. When I got in tune spiritually, it helped me in everything.
‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’Jeremiah 33:3
The shadowed valleys of death provide the perfect setting for God’s mighty love and power to work in us and for us. When we don’t know what to do, are overwhelmed and afraid, we can ask God, and he’ll answer. His word says that he hears the humble and is open to their cries. Christians aren’t immune to trials, troubles, failures, and pain. We have hope and direction from God, who sees and knows everything. God’s love for me within the darkness of death’s valley made me strong. People have marveled at my strength through some very rough situations. It isn’t me, but God within me. He, in His love, and kindness helped me through the valley with his wisdom, strength, and grace. I’m not special; in Jesus, he does the same for anyone who asks. Don’t wait until you are in the valley to find this out for yourself.
O console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”Isaiah 61:3