Today the two Bible studies I'm in reconvened after a holiday break. On Wednesday mornings, as most of you know, I lead the 101 Wednesdays group (see sidebar for more info) for new believers in my community. Then on Wednesday nights, while my kids are at Awanas, my husband and I attend a small group at our church. In the span of the few weeks that we did not meet together, so much had happened in everyone's lives.
One announced a new marriage, while another announced a marriage finally giving way. At least three people asked for prayer for loved ones with deeply rooted addictions. I learned of friends dealing with infidelity. And one dear woman we know who had headaches for two weeks learned she has advanced brain cancer. Her son circulated a statement from her on Facebook.
I have to admit I was a bit floored by her words. Read this excerpt from her letter:
As God brings me to your mind, please be at once reminded that the quill of God's pen is writing my life, and my passion is to give Him full reign and gain all glory for what lies ahead. This is not the time to scream angrily at heaven or raise a fist at God with "How could You?? Rather, as I have learned...it is again my stalwart source of sustaining strength to rely on my Lord, and I beg you to join me in gripping the Master's sovereign, capable Hand which is endured with power and outstretched to me. You too will see that supernaturally God can grant His abiding peace, which to the world seems impossible and makes absolutely no sense. None of us are exempt from trial and tribulation, in fact it is God's way of grooming us to trust, and that, friends, is survival on this fallen earth.
What? Because I sort of thought "survival" meant having a healthy body and living a really long time. And in an emotional sense, "survival" means getting through the day with a bit of happiness left in my heart, a recorded episode of Parenthood, and a leftover cupcake.
No, says this woman, who was recently widowed, has inoperable brain cancer and is in her 60's: "survival" means anchoring yourself to God in a kind of trust that He develops through trials and testing, no matter how sick your body feels or how ugly circumstances get. The irony in her definition of survival despite her condition leaves me humbled and awestruck.
Are you there yet? Would you be rolling those kinds of words off your tongue were you in her shoes? Me neither. And as much as I desire to have that kind of trust flow out of me like it does this friend, I know hers was formed through sorrow, through radical pain, and through God PROVING Himself faithful when things looked really scary.
For the rest of us who aren't going through the really hard stuff right now, well, we need those of you who are to share. We need your testimonies to remind us how faithful a God we have. We need to be floored by your words of faith. One of the most spiritually dangerous places to be is simply comfortable. When all is going smoothly, we tend to forget how awesome, how powerful, and how loving our God is. We start to think we've got things all figured out, and that somehow, our cleverness has earned us the comfort we have.
Tonight at Bible Study, someone in a more comfy place in life thanked someone who is not for sharing his pain and confusion. He said that getting a glimpse of the hard stuff reminds us of the immediacy of our faith. I loved that phrase, and I can relate. I know what it's like to cry out and long for a God who does not delay in meeting me. Our needs are urgent to God, and His presence is immediate. I have to confess I've been taking that for granted lately because I'm not in that rough season at the moment. I forget how much I need Him when things are going well.
Trials, however, put us in a desperate position. They are meant to expose our deep thirst for something bigger than ourselves, a God who is in control and whose character is rooted in love. And when a believer shares her story about God powerfully showing up in the midst of a storm, we are all encouraged, all pointed to the Savior. And we are all reminded where to go and what to do when (not if) skies start to get cloudy in our own lives.
So this is my long-winded way of saying, "Share your stories." I know, it's bossy. If it seems too great a call, start asking God how you might begin to testify to His work in your life. It doesn't have to be on your blog or on Facebook. It could simply be taking a conversation one step further with one other person. Just tell it, any piece. Someone comfortable needs to be reminded of who our God is and how immediately He can help.
Because her storm - or mine - could start tomorrow.