Monday, July 02, 2007

Journey Storms

"But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...' " Isaiah 43:1, 2a

There are people in my life who amaze me. They are not the people who seem to have everything together all the time. They are not the ones who always speak as if life is never tough, but only full of goodness and joy.

The people who amaze me are the Christians who walk through trials, allow the tears to flow, ask the tough questions, and still hold onto their faith in God as strongly as ever.

Two of those people are my aunt and uncle. They have been ministers for over 50 years. Even after retirement, my uncle has worked in their local prison, reaching out to men who desperately need to know that Christ loves them. Ten years ago, they lost their oldest son. Though in his early 40's, he suffered a heart attack which he did not survive. This past winter, upon returning from a trip to visit family, my aunt fell and broke her hip, as well as some other bones. This weekend, they lost their second son. He was in his late 40's, and was killed in an accident caused by another driver. Through their tears and grief, though, they continue to hold fast to the God who has never failed to be their strength and comfort.

Then, of course, there are the friends and family members in Greensburg, KS. In the midst of total destruction, loss of property, etc., they still cling to their hope and their faith. They move ahead, working to rebuild and praying for their future.

Two other people are friends of ours: Laurie and her husband Shannon. I've known Laurie almost 20 years. She is a great mom and wife. She has a passion for Christ and reaching those around her. She ministers to young couples and young mothers. She home schools her own children. She was expecting another child, due this summer. I will now quote from her most recent e-mail post:

Shannon has stayed at my side during all this and I can't ask for a greater husband! My love for him has deepened during these past two weeks! He has been so gentle and understanding when I have just broken out in tears. I am truly blessed! The kids are doing fine as well. Tori had a very rough time when she saw the baby, but she is glad she got to see him.
Shannon and I have been overwhelmed by your prayers and the cards and meals given to us. This has been a very rough trial that we have been going through, but God is Faithful!!! We do not know the reason for losing our baby, but we do trust that God had a good enough reason to take him home. Holding Desmond in my arms was so comforting. He looked as though he were sleeping. We were also able to take pictures of him. The hospital gave us his foot prints and hand prints and some other things to remember him by. At 32 weeks he weighed 3 lbs 9 oz and was 17 inches long. The doctors do not know what happened and we will probably never know.
God comforted me through your prayers and through a song in my heart. Yes, even in the midst of a trial you can have a song in your heart. The song that He gave me was "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord...He gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say Blessed be His name. Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise, when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord".
I was released from the hospital on June 21st but ended back up in the hospital on June 23rd because my blood pressure went up again. They kept me until Tuesday afternoon. But while lying there in the hospital, I just prayed and asked the Lord to speak to me, since I didn't have my Bible with me. (I hadn't planned on staying long...) I did have a book that I was reading and God used that to speak to my heart. He gave me a scripture from Proverbs 24:10..."If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." I told Him that I would not be crushed by this trial, I will hold onto Him, for HE is my Strength when I am weak! He also gave me this verse: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and every one. Psalm 34:18-19
Even when we don't understand, God is Good! This is probably the hardest trial that Shannon and I have ever faced, but God will bring us through! We trust HIM! Without Him we could not make it through this!
So thank you for your prayers, cards, and meals. Thank you for your support for our family. It is great to know that when things get tough in life, you are not alone. Not only do you have God to get you through but you have the body of Christ!! Please continue to keep us in your prayers, because we are still going through the grieving process.
So, to Uncle Allen and Aunt Leona, the people of Greensburg, and to Laurie and Shannon, thank you for your example to me and all who know you. I am grieving with you, and praying for you...and thankful that I can say without a doubt that God will see you through this storm.

In the words of a man who knew what storms were all about:

"Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." (Job 1:20-22)

It's okay to ask the tough questions. But don't let go of your faith, no matter how the storm rages!

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