Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do I really believe this stuff?

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

My belief in this verse and my confidence in the God of these words was put to the test last week.  My husband and I drove out to visit a dear relative suffering from a terrible illness.  We went to help, we hoped to encourage.  But somehow when you choose to bless others, you are always humbled at the way that you yourself are blessed by them. 

In this situation, this was especially true.

I've always imagined the thought of losing a loved one to illness or death.  Whenever I hear of someone struggling physically, it always seems to darken my spirit.  Ironically, I'm a therapist who deals with some of the most emotionally painful situations a human being should never have to go through.  But at the end of the day, there is always hope in the emotional.  There is always a chance for healing, for those who want it.

Physical pain, on the other hand, seems to make me feel a little more helpless.  There is only so much that can be done.  Doctors are incredible, and God is the great Healer- but ultimately, our mortal bodies are slaves to this thing called the grave.  Our bodies are temporary.  And one day our spirits will find a new home.  An eternal home. 

As freeing as this thought is to the believer in Christ- it also carries a tremendous amount of sadness.  I struggle with the truth that our bodies are just bodies...and one day they will see their last breath.  That means my body, as well.  But even more difficult for me, is the though of one day losing those I love.  My parents.  My friends. My husband. 

Just thinking about this reality can strike a chord of panic in me.  Serious panic. 

But something about experiencing this specific situation of suffering second-hand really challenged me to ask myself:  Do I really believe this stuff?

It's easy to talk, but when difficult situations come a long the reality of our commitment to God is really tested.  Would my relationship come through it?  Would I be able to uphold my end of the bargain and love Him, trust Him, and believe in Him no matter what?

I've struggled with that thought for years.  I read the story of Job and think- seriously??  Who can have that kind of attitude in the face of utter despair?  I doesn't even seem realistic.  "Though he slay me, yet I will trust Him".  I hardly feel that and my life is nothing compared to the difficulties that others go through. 

But, I learned some serious lessons spending time with my family last weekend, specifically, with my cousin who I have come to love and respect greatly.  I watched her in the midst of the most horrific struggle she will ever undergo and I learned this profound lesson: God gives us just what we need...just when we need it.  Not a moment before, and not a moment after.   He has blessed her with a grace and a peace far beyond anything I have experienced in a long time.  He has given her a strength that caused me to step back and take inventory of my own faith.  He comes through with a peace that doesn't even make any sense. I've seen it with my cousin, and I've seen it numerous times in the lives of friends and loved ones. 

Don't get me wrong...there are moments of sheer pain.  There are times of sorrow, sin, and struggle.  But at the end of the day I am encouraged beyond belief to know that my God is going to meet me where I am at, just when I need Him to.  He did it for them, and He does it for countless others...and I know He will do it for me.  I can count on that. 

I don't have to muster up strength in preparation for the difficult times...what a terrible life that would be.  In the Exodus, God provided manna to feed the starving Israelites.  Every day he would provide for them just what they needed.  He even asked them to only take what they needed for that day, requiring them to trust Him again for tomorrow.

And so He will do the same for my starving heart when the need is there.  He will provide nourishment for my hungry spirit just as He promised he would.  I believe this.  And when I don't  feel it, I choose to believe it.  If He is God....He can be trusted.

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