May 26, 2016
No Matter What
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV)
I remember the day Art and I settled in our hearts that we would choose God’s love and the pursuit of a relationship with Him, no matter what.
We were in the hospital with our middle daughter who was 6 weeks old. She had seemed a perfectly healthy baby until an allergic reaction to the protein in my breast milk landed us in the intensive care unit. The doctors told us on the fourth day of our visit that Ashley needed emergency surgery, and they did not expect her to survive.
They gave us five minutes to tell our baby goodbye.
My heart was shattered.
I so desperately wanted to scoop her up and run out of the hospital. I wanted to somehow breathe my life into hers. I wanted to take her place. I could handle my own death so much easier than the death of my child. Art prayed over Ashley, we both said our goodbyes, and then, with tears streaming down our faces, we let her go.
When Art took me outside to the hospital parking lot, I collapsed into his arms. He gently cupped my face in his hands and reminded me that Ashley was God’s child to give and His to take back.
“Lysa, God loves Ashley even more than we do,” he gently told me. “We must trust His plan.”
Art then asked me to do something, and it changed my whole perspective on my relationship with God. “We have to get it settled in our hearts that we will love God no matter the outcome of Ashley’s surgery,” he said.
At first I resented Art’s desire that we love God in this way. I feared it might give the impression it was alright for God to take Ashley.
With all my being, I wanted to hold on to my child and refuse God. Yet, though I was heartbroken, I also felt God’s compassion. I felt Him drawing me close and pouring out His tender mercy. God knew firsthand the pain we were feeling because He’d felt it Himself. I knew that, ultimately, I had no ability to control my child’s future.
With tears pouring from our eyes, Art and I released our sweet Ashley to the Lord and promised to love Him no matter what.
It was as if the more I fell into God’s arms, the less the pain of the moment seared my heart. Feeling the power of God took away the fear of the unknown. I stopped thinking about the what-if’s and let my soul simply say, OK. God, in this minute I choose rest with You. I will not let my mind go to the minutes that are coming. I will simply be in this moment and face it with peace.
That day we settled our love for God not just for this situation, but for all time. Though we did not feel at all happy, a gentle covering of unexplainable calm settled over our hearts. Knowing that the One who loved Ashley even more than we did was taking care of her, and that His plan for her was perfect, brought peace in the middle of heartbreak.
The end of this chapter of Ashley’s life was miraculous and we are so grateful. Though the doctors can’t explain how, she made a full recovery. Who can understand why God answers prayer the way He does?
I know the devastating other side of situations like this — where my little sister didn't recover, and we stood at her grave, helpless and heartbroken.
But both situations have taught me that no matter what God’s answer, our hearts can be settled to trust and love Him. I don't have to understand; I just have to trust. This kind of total surrender brings about a depth of peace and relationship with God you can’t get any other way. It all stems from living out today’s key verse, loving God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Nothing in life is certain. Circumstances roll in and out like the ocean’s tide. And the unknown can sometimes seem so frightening.
We can’t stop or control things that roll our way any more than we can stop the water’s edge.
But we can make the minute-by-minute choice to let our souls rest in God.
Dear Lord, I want to love You with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength like Your Word instructs. Teach me how to give up the control I try to maintain as I experience uncertainties and hard times. Guide me in pursuing a love relationship with You no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are difficult circumstances causing you to pull away from God? Ask Him to help you surrender them to Him today.
Write out your own “no matter what” prayer — one you can turn to when times get tough.
© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.