Life can drastically change in a very short period of time. Sometimes these changes are good; other times however, they are much harder to swallow. And when these harder changes become the focus, we end up losing sight of all of the blessings we’ve experienced; and ultimately, lose sight of God in the process. This seems to be where I was at up until recently, and it wasn’t until reading through my Advent study (O Come Let Us Adore Him by Kristin Schmucker and Cara Cobble Trantham of http://www.thedailygraceco.com), that I realized this truth.
In Exodus 12: 1-51, we are told about the Hebrew people preparing for the first Passover during the final plague in Egypt. What came to mind while reading this, was that the Hebrews would have witnessed the power and wonders of God first hand, yet only a few chapters later, they are already doubting God and questioning His presence and power in their lives, “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?'” (Exodus 14:11, The MacArthur Study Bible ESV). And they continue their complaints and doubt all through their journey in the desert, despite God’s constant intervention and aid, they keep forgetting His glory.
Now you are probably wondering, how a woman in 2018 could relate to this story, but the truth is, we can all see ourselves (at some point in our lives) in the same place as the Hebrews. A place of doubt, fear, and hopelessness. A place where, though we still believe, we forget God’s grace and presence in our lives. We forget the blessings and believe ourselves abandoned or cursed. For me, this moment came shortly after my father was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer.
I remember that in the beginning, I was very strong in my faith. I trusted God and prayed that I wouldn’t let the truth of my father’s situation be used as a weapon against my faith. And for the most part, I didn’t, but I underestimated the stress and heartache of dealing with terminal illness in the family, along with the anxiety and depression I had been battling with for years. As my father’s health declined, I didn’t stop believing in God, but I found myself doubting His goodness, and more particularly His love for me. As time passed, I found myself in a constant state of grief, which combined with other areas of difficulty in my life, often manifested itself in anxiety attacks, suicidal thoughts brought on by depression, constant complaining, and doubting every good thing in my life.
With the reality of my situation, I found my joy depleting. I began fixating on the dark thoughts in my mind, and lost sight of the bigger picture, and found myself believing that the Lord had abandoned me in my time of need. I forgot the simple truths found in His Word, such as in 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” (ESV) or in Romans 8:35 ” Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (ESV). There are many other verses that prove God’s love for us, perhaps the most poignant being John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” (ESV). Despite my spiral into mental darkness, God was always there and His love for me was and is constant and everlasting.
Now its easy to say this in hindsight, its easy to say this when not actively facing trial. Truth be told, I need to constantly remind myself on those tough days and remember the good God has done for me. How God took the evil of the Enemy and turned it into something good (Genesis 50:20), how He gave me the support I needed to make it through the harder days, and sometimes just a quiet whisper of reminder when reading His Word.
You see, only a few months before my Dad’s official diagnosis, I gave my life to Christ after a suicide attempt and escape from an abusive past. He connected me with a solid church community, whose members I began to build relationships with and have supported us in varying ways, as we struggle with this illness and its effects on normal life. And it was through the pastor at this church, that my father gave his own life to Christ. I met my husband at this church, who knowingly entered my life during such a sorrowful time and has been a real support to me and my family. These are some of the larger blessings,there are many small ones in between, but none should be ignored. Even if we don’t see God’s hands directly, He can still be seen indirectly, through the love of those who follow Him.
There are still dark days, there are likely darker days to come, but there are people in my life now, that I wouldn’t have had apart from God. And, most importantly, I have God that will carry me through this difficult time. We are human and it is natural to struggle and doubt from time to time. We are imperfect, but we have a perfect Redeemer to intercede for us (Romans 8:34). A God who Himself suffered greatly for our sake, and knows the weariness of human life, but is infinitely good. Who can take darkness and turn it into light (John 1: 1-5). This is what we need to remember when questioning God’s presence in our lives. Though we may not understand how, especially when everything seems to be falling apart, He is at work.
He will use hardship to bring the lost to Him and will heal the wounds endured during our time on Earth, bringing us to an eternity in His Kingdom (John 14:1-4). I’m not saying this time won’t be hard, or that it is easy to accept these facts. I just hope to remind others, that even in our darkest moments, we are never alone. Because sometimes we need to remember the good things during the bad times and the blessings during our sorrows, lest we become trapped in our darkness and lose sight of His light all together.
We need to choose to focus on the good in our lives, to help us bare hardship. We need to choose to let God carry us, when we are too weak to hold on alone. And honestly, we are always too weak to do it alone. Misery at times, is a choice. We can let it define us, we can let it turn our hearts cold, or we can decide to reach out to God, to reach out to those who care for us. There is never a reason to go about it alone, for Christ Himself says, “Come to me, all who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my Yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11: 28-30, ESV). He is always there, but it is up to us to reach out and let Him help us through our lives.