The past few days, outside of a quick trip to visit family, which was wonderful, have been nothing short of hard. Challenging emotionally, physically, and more. While we don’t have a specific diagnosis for our girls yet, we were given a handful of painful news last week that I’m not sure I know how to swallow. It had been something Hugh and I had feared for a while now, so in a sense, it was relieving to be told our worst suspicion. Yet, in spite of our wondering, there are some things in life you cannot be prepared for no matter how much you have thought about it before. Whatever is going on with the girls stems from their brain. One of my favorite physicians I have met thus far gently explained to me why, anatomically, this was starting to look true. I don’t talk about the delays outside of the gross motor one because frankly, I don’t like thinking about it. For whatever reason, there is something about this being solely muscular that sounds much more appealing. I have said to many people over the past months that the hardest thing to face would be if somehow we found out that there is something going on with the girls’ brains, and Thursday, my worst fear was pretty much affirmed. What lies ahead will be continued waiting, more doctor’s appointments with new specialists, more MRI’s, more hard. I have had the past few days to attempt to process it all, and the Lord was starting to bring me to a place of gratitude. A place that I realize, no matter what, this is His best for our family, for His kingdom, for Ally and Bailey Grace. That last part stings, and there are still questions I have concerning that truth, but I know it is just that: truth. In spite of what I feel, He is writing this story and the details come from His merciful pen. His story is always something to be excited about; for I know that He is bringing glory and good out of all things, even the ones that don’t make sense to me. On the way to dinner with a friend Thursday night, I heard a song that I would normally skim past. (I love praise and worship. Some music on the Christian channel borders cheesy, kid singy songy to me and I have a hard time focusing on the truths I know are there. Honesty.) The words cut through to my core this time, however, and it felt like the Lord was singing it to my heart, the whole thing. Stephen Curtis Chapman sings, “Glorious Unfolding”, and he talks about just that: the glories that God is unfolding in the middle of all this life holds. The way that He is going to bring good from even the hardest moments. Right then and there, I thanked God for all that He was unfolding in our family; and I truly began to get excited about what’s to come, even in light of new challenges. That was until Bailey Grace got sick yesterday afternoon…followed by Ally…followed by me. And now, here sit, all three of us fighting fevers and my attitude gone from hopeful to crummy.
If you have kept up with our family happenings, you know that our girls do not handle illness well, and that a seemingly simple cold could mean a hospital trip for us. This has only happened once, but I have prayed against illness since and hoped that we could be wise enough about staying away from sickness as much as humanely possible. Bailey Grace’s sickness turned to Ally’s sickness turned to Hugh and I up in the middle of the night, trying to console two screaming babies. I was mad. I couldn’t understand why things had to hit all at once. Gut-wrenching news and now more sickness? It didn’t seem fair. As I meditated on some verses, this one came to mind,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”- John 10:10
Ha. Abundant life? Is this really Your version of abundant life? These are real questions I brought to the Lord. The thing is, when you know what you know what you know, that God is a good God and that you are going to follow Him no matter what, but your current reality is so challenging, you begin to bring these bold questions to Him out of desperation. And this, my friend, is one of the mysteries of our God. He is big. He is worthy. He should never tolerate such questions from a grain of sand like me. Yet, in His love, He gently leads me to the truths I need to remember in these tough moments.
I realized right then and there that it was obvious what the thief was trying to steal: my joy. My faith. My hope in Christ and His plans for me. That which doesn’t fade. The enemy came to kill my spirit. To deaden that within me which God has already made alive… or to at least get me thinking it’s dead. He came to destroy our relationships, our families, our outlook on eternity. But Christ? Christ came to do the opposite. While circumstances and current realities seem to fade and bring brokenness and suffering, He promises to bring true life abundant. This abundancy is not reliant on situations or on anything on this earth, however. It relies on God and His unchanging, always-giving, always-trustworthy, never-ending grace. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You see, the vastness God offers in Christ far outweighs the suffering we are walking through now. In fact, He promises us any suffering we are walking through now doesn’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed later (Romans 8:18). Furthermore, today, we can have abundancy of spirit when we allow Him to reign in our lives. The word says that,
“…those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, emphasis mine)
See that last part? This is what I was missing. My mind was focused on the fading, perishing things of the flesh; not the all-knowing, perfect, never fading things of the Spirit. No matter what, in Christ, we have hope. We know that whatever we are going through on this side of heaven has a purpose for all eternity, and that He is working in all things. Many of us have read the verse in Philippians that says that our God will supply all our needs (4:19), but I think we skim past the last part: according to the riches in Christ Jesus. The riches in Christ Jesus are not based on flesh and blood, but on the joys and promises found in heaven. Not material wealth. Not comfort. Not even success. No. The riches we are guaranteed go much, much deeper and are much more reliable. He promises to give us the ability to hear that your children have something wrong with their brain and not crumble, knowing whatever it is comes from His hand. He gives us the strength to walk through each day, unsure of what tomorrow will look like. It goes on and on, but there is NOTHING, no power, no illness, no person, not even death itself, that can separate us from Him (Romans 8:35-38). So, I can look whatever is ahead dead on, with confidence that He is walking us through it and that it is good. Abundant life. There is no one else that can promise us this. Romantic comedies often imply that when you meet your soulmate, they will have the ability to protect you and care for you perfectly. I love Hugh with all my heart and am positive there isn’t a better man for me out there, but here’s the thing: he can’t take away the pain of what is going on with our girls. He cannot love me perfectly in this. Deuteronomy 32:12 says, “The Lord alone led him”. In our wilderness, in those moments where the pain goes deeper than any fix this world has to offer, He is our Hope. He truly can walk us through all the valleys of life while giving us His peace and comfort along the way. Only Him. Friends, we must fix our eyes on Him and Him alone. Whether you are on a mountain or a valley, He is the only One that can give us the riches that come from His unfading Spirit. All others things will pass away, but He remains. This is where our eyes must be. Him.
My flesh is bruised and hurting, both physically and emotionally. I am sad. I am scared at times. But, I know the One who goes before me and I trust Him to fill me up in ways that only He can. He is so very good. Let Him love you today and give you the abundant life that only He can promise.
“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way by conversation sweet, climbing with the thought that it might be so till the height was reached; but suddenly a narrow winding path appeared, and then the Master said, “My child, here you will walk safest with Me alone. I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied, “So be it, Lord”. He took my feeble hand in His, accepting thus my will to yield to Him. All, and to find all in Him. One long, dark, moment, and no friend I saw, save Jesus only. But oh! So tenderly He led me on and up, and spoke to me such words of cheer, such secret whisperings of His wondrous love, that soon I told Him all my grief and fear, and leaned on His strong arm confidingly. And then I found my footsteps quickened, and light unspeakable, the rugged way illumined, such light as only can be seen in close companionship with God. A little while, and we will meet again-the loved and lost- but in the rapturous joy of greetings, such as here we cannot know, and happy song, and heavenly embraces, and tender recollections rushing back of life now passed, I think one memory more dear and sacred than the rest, will rise, and we who gather in the golden streets, will oft be stirred to speak with grateful love of that dark day Jesus called us to climb some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”- Daniel Crawford