God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)
I had just reached my office door after having finished preaching my first sermon in a sermon series dealing with one of the characters revealed to us in the historical account of the birth of Christ...Mary...when suddenly my wife scurried into the office. I knew that look, I had seen it before; it was a look of seriousness, yet under control. I knew that something was up and my mind began to process the possibilities but before I actually made any consideration she spoke, “Luke (our two year old grandson by Nick and Stephanie, our daughter) was not responding to Stephanie, not talking, not moving, completely limp and they were headed to the hospital”.
My mind raced back to the Christmas season of 1982 when our own daughter Angela had been stricken with meningitis, she also was limp as a rag, and Sherri and I felt helpless as we carried her to the hospital and discovered just how sick she really was. During that experience we discovered that what we believe and who we trust is often revealed through the most difficult and desperate times of life that we experience in this broken world. I recalled the prayers that we eventually prayed...for it turned out to be a time of real spiritual growth... thanking God for the gift of her birth and her life and that we would trust Him, serve Him and love Him no matter the outcome. He delivered us from our fears. Then we waited...and prayed...all the while reassuring nurses, doctors and visitors alike that the Lord was good...all the time.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
As we talked with Stephanie, Nick had come down with food poisoning the night before and was violently regurgitating in the hospital waiting room, finally sent home to keep everyone else from contracting something if it happened to be a virus, we were able to share with her the importance of prayer and our willingness to remember that all we have is from the Lord, even our children, they are His, and He knows what’s best, no matter what. It is a real test...to believe and then act on that belief; that He is good and He loves us and that He will work everything for good to those that love Him.
I think it helped to have us share those few thoughts. Because when someone has been where you are it sharpens your listening, and gives an opportunity to have faith fortified and your fears eradicated.
There was a man one day whose wife was very ill. It was in the frontier days and he had to get to a place that had medicine to save his wife’s life. The only problem was that it was wintertime and in order to get to the person with the medicine, he had to cross a lake. The lake had been iced over. His wife’s life depended upon it, so he had to get up and cross this cold lake that had now been covered with ice. He was terrified. He was concerned that the ice would break. Scared to death but spurned on by love for his wife, he got down on his hands and knees and inched along, ever so carefully. All of a sudden, he felt a rumbling on the ice. He was even more terrified. Maybe the ice was cracking. The rumbling got louder. It became thunderous. The man was living in terror. But as the noise got closer, he looked up behind him and saw a man driving a team of horses across the ice. The horses pulled a carriage that was loaded with a bunch of boxes and it just went thundering across the ice. All of a sudden, the man stood up, started walking, and then running. All of a sudden, this man that was full of fear became a man full of confidence. He learned something about the ice. He learned that if it could hold a team of horses thundering across it, it could certainly hold him. If you want to have more confidence in God, then hang around somebody who’s riding with God with a team of horses so that you’ll know He can carry you with whatever you’re facing. Find somebody who’s been where you are and has experi- enced God’s deliverance. Their story of faith will encourage you.
We received a miracle that Christmas as the treatments that were given to Angela eventually lead to her healthy recovery. But the more I’ve thought about it throughout the years, the miracle was the closeness to God that happened as we became even more intimate than before with Him as we trusted His will and His ways. He took our fears away and as we drew closer to Him, we also drew closer to one another, husband and wife, parents and child. The miracle of God’s faithfulness not only read in His Holy Word but experienced in the real, every day, difficult circumstances of life was miraculous as His grace allowed a deepening in our relationship with Him...something that couldn’t happen on our own, something we didn’t deserve, but something that He provided through His grace and mercy. We hope that the experience we had in some way brought a comfort and encouragement to Nick and Steph as they faced a testing of their faith and trust in the Lord.
Little Luke ended up having pneumonia. It came on without any normal symptoms, and while I know that we are all thrilled that he is on the road to recovery...we love him so much...in the days to come I’m sure that the Lord will use this experience in their life to encourage and help others to trust in God and believe that He can hold them up and deliver them from their fears.
For that is the miracle; that God will take it all and make something good out of it...regardless of what “it” is. He has a miracle just like that available for you...you can trust Him...you really can.
Look for His work in your life during this Christmas season...and as you trust Him daily...give testimony of what He’s doing in your life. There may be someone who needs encouragement that God will carry them, whatever they may be facing.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14 (ESV)