“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path…” Psalm 142:3
When I was a fairly new Christian and a young Mama, I had no idea that raising children would require me to walk by faith – I mean, completely trusting the Lord for their futures, especially when life was confusing. Difficult circumstances rarely fit into weekly lesson plans or yearly goals. They seemed to have a life of their own, jumping off the pages of all my good intentions. And throughout the years, my plans were often preempted by “bends in the road,” life-altering trials that sought to defeat me and my family.
After weathering one crisis, I would determine to buckle down and get back to “normal,” and then another would arise. I often felt like a kite being tossed about by gusts of wind, swooping and spiraling out of control when all I wanted was to soar to lofty heights. The emotional and physical pain from some of these trials lasted for years. But over time, I began to witness an amazing phenomenon – God was in the tailspins, and the up-currents were the gentle breeze of His voice.
Although there were times I wanted to run and escape the pain (kite flapping wildly behind me), more and more I hungered for God’s presence amidst the continuing storms of life. I wanted a touch from the Lord “passing by.” Like the prophet Elijah emerging from the cave of Mount Horeb, I heard the Lord whispering to me, “I’m with you, Jill. I’ll never leave or forsake you. Don’t give up!”
In his commentary on 1 Kings 19:11-13, pastor Charles Spurgeon must have had us mothers in mind when he wrote, “As, therefore, the Lord spoke to Elijah not by earthquake, nor wind, nor fire, but by the still small voice, so in all probability will he speak to us… He speaks not to you by any earthquake of judgment with which he means to visit you, neither by any fiery word of severe rebuke; but with a still small voice that shall just meet your case and send you back to your labor… Go back again to thy work, for the Lord has blessed thee. Play not the fool by deserting the post where he will give thee honor yet.”
Don’t give up. Go back. Untangle the kite strings…
Over time, the Lord showed me a truth I couldn’t deny. The very circumstances I couldn’t control were His way of growing godly character in my children and giving them hearts of compassion – not only them, but me and my husband as well. God was revealing His faithfulness to our family – one trial at a time. And at our greatest times of need, when burdens were too heavy to bear, He proved over and over again that He could be trusted and that He would carry us through. Maybe, just maybe, God knew what He was doing after all (Of course He did!).
Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his path.” God’s ways are not are not our ways, and they’re so much better than anything we could imagine! I was beginning to witness the Lord’s amazing power to take painful circumstances and work them together for good (Romans 8:28).
Through the loss of our son, Nicholas, who was born with Trisomy 13, a genetic syndrome, the Lord gave my oldest daughter, Claire (25), a vision to minister to children with special needs when she was just 14 years old. After years of volunteering, the second half of her senior year was spent studying to become a therapeutic riding instructor. Among other pursuits, to this day, you will find Claire teaching children with special needs at a local center while her sister, Elizabeth (17), leads the therapy horses during the lessons.
In 2009, our lives were suddenly interrupted again with the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of my elderly father who has Parkinson’s (trust me, I didn’t see that one coming). After shouldering a huge part of his care for almost two years, my son, Eric (21), decided to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). This work has allowed him to earn a living while he interns for pastoral training at a church in another state. Who would have thought that Grandpa’s greatest time of need would become a training ground for a future CNA or that God would use a really hard season of serving to provide income while Eric pursues his life’s calling? Proverbs 2:3-4 is so true: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
So how can we safely navigate though the turbulent storms of life? James 1:2-5 both challenges and comforts us with these words. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
The Greek word for wisdom is Sophia; the knowledge of how to regulate one’s relationship with God, wisdom which is related to goodness. When one is wise unto God, he is Phronimos, prudent unto others and knows how to regulate circumstances (Strong’s concordance).
Don’t we all want to know how to regulate circumstances? God has an abundant supply of wisdom to overcome difficult times and the sensitivity we need to sustain healthy relationships while going through them. He longs to give us His strength to patiently endure hardship so that He can bring about a good result – lives poured out that will honor and glorify Him.
But we will only hear His voice and soar above the tumult when we accept the trials He brings.
In her book High Call High Privilege, pastor’s wife Gail MacDonald writes, “Here was another one of those life-altering crossroads. In these surroundings I faced one of the first great lessons that a woman has to master if she is to be effective as a Christian woman, a wife, a mother: Submit to the fact that God is in control and is able to bring good out of every circumstance.”
Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” This verse isn’t just talking about committing your plans or your ways to the Lord, but accepting the trials and tribulations He allows in your life – as ordained by Him.
Isaiah: 30; 20-21 says, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be hidden anymore, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers; and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’ ” Every time we walk through a fiery trial, trusting God to uphold us, listening to His still small voice and waiting for His direction, we come to know our Lord and Savior in a deeper way – and so do our children.
The Lord promises to instruct us in the times of hardship, but we have to be willing to listen. Confused, grief-filled, panic stricken, we can’t afford to turn a deaf ear. We don’t want to miss the gentle blowing of His voice.
Smooth sailing always? No.
Rising above adversity and affliction? Yes.
The gentle breeze of his voice is blowing today, ladies. Catch the updraft with me – and soar!
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