When Life Piles Up

My last blog post on The Names of God, Jehovah Rapha (God Healer) was posted only six days before my father’s death. Thursday after it posted, I gave it to him to read after arriving at my parent’s home in South Carolina to be there for his surgery the next morning.

“Well done, daughter,” I can still hear him say.

God has such a beautiful way of letting this “life thing” play out. I’ve never been one to believe in coincidences. Nope. In my opinion, “coincidences” are just God at work in all aspects of our lives.

In March of this year, I dreamed God’s hands swooped down from the clouds to catch my husband and I as we were falling in midair down a cliff. He gently set us into terribly murky water but it was okay because I viscerally KNEW all would be well. He would carry us through.

In recent days, remembering that dream and the peace it brought once I awoke has sometimes been one of the few things that has gotten me through.

See, true to His mystery, God seems to fully understand the power of the “pile on.” Often, our challenges occur in clusters – at least that’s been my experience. So. Many. Difficult. Things. At. Once.

Because of this, I can’t say I was surprised that while at the funeral home deciding on my father’s funeral ceremony, caskets, and the like, my husband received a call to inform him of yet another hugely stressful challenge upcoming. As soon as we left, I quickly, dove into my phone’s Bible app to start a new plan. I found Battles and Front Lines by Rita Springer. This is what I read:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Wow, God. I should be ecstatic!! Thank you??

Ever notice how good Satan is at his job? He can really stir up some emotions that can rattle you to your bones. Fear is one he’s really good at manifesting in us. And doubt. Doubt can do a number on me too – when I let it. Both of these emotions can come out in full force during the pile-on – extending it exponentially.

This pile-on effect truly makes me take notice of you, God and forces me to keep You close like never before. So often these days, my greatest solace is found in the Word.

The Bible shows us there is still more advice for us to be joyful in trials. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 we read: So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Throughout this year, I’ve witnessed how beautiful our struggles can be – if you’re intentional about noticing ALL of the pieces to the puzzle. These experiences have made it possible for me to keep and grow my faith.

I saw it so many times in the hospital in the kind words or gestures of people around whether they be staff or not. The nurse who had watched my mom, brother and I standing outside of my Dad’s room waiting for them to prep him to go into his second surgery. She watched how Mom wouldn’t take her eyes off Dad and finally asked my mom, “do you want to go with him up to the operating room?” In Mike, the man who insisted on purchasing our coffee as he was visiting his wife who had cancer surgery. In Mary, the woman in the waiting room who prayed for us right after Dad died.

We love each other because He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

I’ve also realized that although there is so much pain and so many angry people in the world, kindness is predominant. Most people genuinely want to help others. Phone calls, notes, texts, and hugs from family, friends and almost strangers made and still make, the hard days bearable. Like when Gail, whom I’ve met twice, hears my story and asks if she can send me an email. Reading this article through my tears, I recognized that my perspective was changing in ways I never imagined.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIV)

With the current conflicts in our country, it’s easy to buy into the lie that we are doomed. Anytime we keep our focus on the negative (the divide), it will be impossible to create a positive change of unity. Let’s look around and keep our eyes searching to catch others being kind. Let’s make it our mission to always search for the silver linings. We must change our focus for positive change to happen.

Think about this, sisters, what would the world look like if we all were intent on finding and doing good? Who will stand for Jesus? Who will take that step and remind others how quickly our brothers and sisters stepped up to assist victims of the hurricanes or other recent tragedies? How many people step in to provide comfort and love in our daily challenges? I have seen first-hand that it is people’s first instinct to be kind.

We seem to be in a time in life where we must endure the challenge of the pile-on so we might become as humanly complete as we possibly can. For God’s plans are far greater and more beautiful than our own. Things are not hopeless, we just need to dig deeper and love harder. There is always a storm before a rainbow.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NIV)