March 3, 2005
Encouragement for Today
Prepared - Part One
Van Walton - Spanish Ministries Coordinator, Speaker Team Member
Consider it pure joy, my (sisters) brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Three years ago - January 23rd to be exact - I received the phone message every mother dreads. My college-age son was in the emergency room. A six-month medical ordeal followed. Except for our foundation in God's Word, the faith that develops as a result of years of learning and practicing the Lord's commands, and developing ears and hearts to trust His promises, we might not have survived.
I invite you into our experience as a way of encouragement that you might be prepared for that time when you face various trials.
Each week of this ordeal was difficult as it presented us with new trials. The first several days were tough because of the shock - the physical and emotional toll it took on the family. We had settled into the New Year and suddenly we had to drop everything to fly across the country. In the dark, hidden hours of the morning, I waked my younger son and rushed to the airport. Hours later, I stood at the bedside of my older son. I hardly recognized my child. He was scared and I promised to stay with him until he recovered. Little did I know what I'd done. By making that vow, I abandoned my younger son! When Benjamin and I separated, he in his daddy's care, a ripping pain began, that constantly tore at my heart for months.
Settling into a medical routine, we hoped daily to be discharged. Then, one afternoon, after taking a stroll, crisis struck. Aaron threw a blood clot and was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. We were warned that our son could die - right there - right then!
I'll never forget what followed. I prayed and God's peace filled me with an assuring comfort - we were in His hands. Although the doctors had no control over the course of the PE and we were certainly scared, God knew the outcome and He was in control. We opened our eyes nodding in agreement. We didn't know the future of this illness, but we had just been given the measure of faith we would need to overcome.
I often doubted that I had the faith to persevere. At that moment, I knew God was allowing us to enter into a test, not to punish us and not because he was disappointed in something we had done. He knew we were prepared to trust Him for the strength we would need. This would not be about us; it would be something we would endure so others could watch. Possibly others would view God's kingdom on earth, how it operates, and long for a touch of God's grace. The Comforter's obvious presence would be experienced. The Church - the body of Christ - would rally around its own. God's people would show love for one another.
Something else happened that afternoon. It was the culmination of years of parenting. Everything I had poured into Aaron during the 18 years he lived in my care returned, bringing blessings and affirmation. When I finished praying, Aaron, hands still in mine, looked deep into my eyes.
"All these nights, as I lay here in the hospital, I have wondered about God's plan for my life. Maybe He plans for me to live out the rest of my life in heaven." Silence ruled as that reality set in.
He continued, "When I considered that, I couldn't accept it. Then I debated. Why wouldn't I want to go to heaven, now, if it's God's will?" He smiled in a most peaceful way. "I mean, heaven is a better place!"
Was I really having this conversation? Children outlive their parents, right?
"Mom," He brought me back. "I'll be all right if I die today. Don't worry about me. I know I'm going to heaven."
Aaron's condition, according to the experts, was critical, but not for us. The fact is, I promised God one thing concerning my sons. I would obediently guide them to Him. Now, His Word had become real. When faced with trials, I could consider it all joy. My child had put his life in God's hands - there he would remain.
My Prayer for today:
Merciful Father, You are to be praised for sharing Your plan for our lives. Where would we be without Your Word that teaches us of Your care and loving kindness? Thank You for placing people in my life who prepared me for the rough journeys that would certainly define my faith walk.
Many families have a plan in place just in case a disaster strikes. They have an escape route in case of fire. There is a common gathering place during a tornado warning. They choose a meeting place in the mall or an amusement park if they happen to become separated. What action have you taken to educate your children about the truths of Christianity?
Create a plan to build God confidence in yourself and in the lives of your children.
Invite Jesus to join you daily, to develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him.
Are you like Paul who can say that nothing is able to separate you from the 'love of Christ'?
Read Hebrews 11:32 - 40. This is called the 'Hall of Faith'. Create your own hall of faith by remembering the times God has brought you through trying circumstances. What makes you think He will not do it again and again for you?
Study the lives of Biblical characters. Notice how often God picks them up and cares for them. He will do the same for you.
Memorize the power verses and remember them when you doubt God is near.
All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Joshua 1:5 (Message)
"... I know that my Redeemer lives. And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God, Whom I myself shall behold and whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me. Job 19:25- 27 (NAS)
He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (NLT)
Be humble under God's powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NCV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Where is God When Bad Things Happen tape set by Mary Southerland