Trials

WHEN THINGS DON’T GET BETTER

In a recent post entitled Provision & Praise, I shared God’s faithfulness during my son Elijah’s emergency room visit several weeks ago. What began as a seemingly acute bout of stomach pain that was rather simple to diagnose and treat, is now much more.

Week one came and went and I thought he turned the corner. He did, but around it was only more pain. And no answers.

Today marks day 22 of my son giving me, that look. Day 22 of him saying, “Mommy, my tummy hurts. Mommy, I don’t feel good. Mommy, please help me. Mommy why can’t anyone help me? Mommy, please…please…!”

Still nothing definitive after:

  • Two emergency room visits
  • Repeated lab work
  • Multiple x-rays & ultrasounds
  • Visits to his family doctor, pediatrician and now a gastroenterologist
  • Four medications

Each provider has been outstanding and heaven sent. All are trying hard to determine the origin of his illness.

Hoping his pain level would hold out for next Thursday, when he is scheduled to be put under general anesthesia to have an upper and lower scope ran, tonight, his pain escalated.

It was the worst of the 22 days for him, by far. Holding him in my arms, gently stroking his hair, I prayed silently-desperately for him to have relief.

“God, give us wisdom I pray. Oh God, please strengthen our son,” I wept as I knelt just outside his room.

A great deal of pain has resurfaced at the sight of my son suffering. I know this look. I saw it in the eyes of my son Isaiah as he suffered through pain I can’t even begin to imagine.

I know this place. This place of complete helplessness. When you’re the one that’s supposed to kiss the boo-boo’s away, but you can’t.

So the question in my heart tonight is:

What do you do when things don’t get better?

Why is this question so important?

  1. Because things don’t always get better this side of Heaven. You’ve seen it in your own life or in the lives of those you love I’m sure.

    What comes of our faith when pain slowly tries to chip away at it?

  2. Because what we do then, is indicative of the true condition of our hearts.

    When days turn into weeks, weeks into months and maybe even months into years – what then? 

When Isaiah’s NICU stay turned from days, to weeks, to months and ultimately to almost a year long stay in NICU, my answer wasn’t pretty. In fact, its darkness matched that of my heart.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Wherefore let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.

  • I acknowledge today, in the midst of my own trial, that without God’s grace, I will surely fall. So, I run to his lap and curl up in the safety of his arms.

1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

  • It is hard to rejoice in seasons of trial. It seems nearly impossible, but when viewed through the lenses of faith, our fires have purpose. Whatever your flames look like today, along with mine, may our faith be found unto praise, honor and glory at our Lord’s appearing.

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.

  • As I pray for you today, that your faith will fail not in spite of whatever trials you face, would you do the same for me, my husband and our precious son, Elijah? And, after we’re converted, may we each go strengthen our brothers and sisters.

Thank you in advance for approaching God’s throne on our behalf.

 

 

 

 

THE TEA CUP

I came across this story my father gave me while digging through my computer files recently. I wish I could say I wrote this beautiful piece. It was written by Larry Kennedy in his book entitled, God’s Answers to Human Dilemmas Amid Life’s Frustrations

The Tea Cup

The tea cup looked like an ordinary tea cup until it spoke.

You do not understand. I have not always been a tea cup. There was a time when I was nothing but red clay. My master took me, rolled me, and patted me over and over and over. I yelled, “Leave me alone!”

But he only smiled and said, “Not yet.”

Then I was placed on a spinning wheel and spun around and around. I screamed, “Stop it! I am getting dizzy.”

The master nodded and said, “Not yet.”

Then he put me in an oven, and it was terribly hot. I thought he would burn me to a crisp.  I yelled and knocked on the door.

I could see his lips moving as he said, “Not yet.”

Finally, the door was opened and I began to cool. Then suddenly he painted me all over, and the fumes were horrible.

I cried, “Stop it!  Stop it!”

He only nodded, “Not yet.”

All at once he put me back in the oven, and it was twice as hot. I begged, pleaded, screamed, and cried.

But he only said, “Not yet.”

Then at the last minute, just when I knew I would never make it, he opened the oven and placed me on a shelf.

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, “Look at yourself.”

I was beautiful, really beautiful.

As I gazed at my beauty, my master said, “I know it hurt to be rolled and patted, but if I had left, you would have dried up.”

“I know it hurt to be spun around and around, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.”

“I know it hurt in the oven, but if I had stopped you would have cracked.”

“I know the fumes were bad when I painted you, but if I had stopped you never would have hardened.”

“But now you are a finished product.  You are what I had in mind when I first began with you!”

Reflection

I need not ask if you’ve felt like this tea cup at times in your life. Haven’t we all in various ways?

If you’re like me, when I feel pain, my first inclination is to flee it. I often can’t imagine any good will come of it.

I’ve felt the burning, the patting, and the spinning and there is sure to be much more.

I am not where this tea cup is but I hope to be one day. I still but clay.

This tea cup saw it’s beauty when God handed him a mirror.

Perhaps, we won’t get our mirrors this side of Heaven. Here, maybe there’s just more spinning. More patting. More painting.

Perhaps though, we’ll get glimpses along the way. And if we do, when the flames get hotter, may we see our hearts growing stronger, deeper and nearer the very heart of Christ.

 

EROSION

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you ever found yourself careening down a trail of thoughts unsure of how you arrived at the present one which seems to have absolutely nothing to do with what you were originally thinking? I certainly have. I find myself in such a quandary right now. Come with me as I retrace how I got here and why!

As a sentimental person at heart my grandmother’s passing has provoked many thoughts. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the generation that soon will end and the call to step up.  With that in mind I began searching the scriptures during quiet time this morning.  I ended up in Titus 2:4 which states, “that they (referring to the aged women) may teach the young women…”  It goes on to list the specific things the aged women are to teach the young women.  Although extremely important that isn’t part of this mornings rabbit trail so we’ll revisit that another time.

As a lover of words and as one who takes great heed in words I dissect them.  It is not enough for me to assume the meaning of words. My husband so sweetly warmed up the car for me this morning and while I was waiting on Elijah to get his shoes on I sent the other two on ahead.  When I got in the car Joshua said, Mommy I ate the ice off of the car and it was good!  When I asked him why he did that he said, because Isaiah told me too!  I then replied with the statement all mother’s have made since the beginning of time, “well, son, if Isaiah told you to jump off a cliff would you do it?”  Although humorous it served as a teaching moment.  The Holy Spirit is gracious to lead us in these.  Without him, it would for me, simply become another yelling moment!  I went on to tell the boys how important it is for them to think for themselves and not do something simply because someone else tells them too.

This is matter is of great importance to me as a recovering Pharisee and one I have in the past been terrible at.  I took others words at face value because I respected them or due to the pedestal they stood so high upon in my mind.  Instead of examining their words to see if they be true I took them for my own and in essence did exactly what my son did this morning with the ice.  I ate them because I was told too!

So while researching the definitions of certain words from their Greek origins I came across one whose definition made me to pause and ponder.  Who are the young women scripture is referring too?  Seems pretty obvious I know but trust me, as I am discovering, words mean so much more than what you think.  The word young in it’s Greek origin refers to those who are youthful.  I pulled out an old 1967 Webster’s Dictionary (I love dictionaries and the older the better) to find the meaning of youthful:

  • being young and not yet mature
  • marked by or possessing youth
  • youth, fresh, vigorous

As I read the first three I began thinking of young women around me that are new college students, new brides, new mothers and so on.  I read on…

  • having accomplished or undergone little erosion

It almost never fails that as I look up the meaning to a word I feel somewhat silly looking up the definition to I will find a diamond in the rough.

Having accomplished or undergone little erosion.  I thought of my own life and while certainly there had been some level of pain and disappointment for the most part in my young life I had undergone very little erosion.  In nature, wind and rain are two elements that cause erosion.  I thought of the parallel between erosion in nature and storms in life that beat upon our houses and reveal our foundations.  Both sound unpleasant and seem to lead only to destruction.

I began looking up some pictures of erosion in nature and I came across something so beautiful and I thought you would too.  This is the Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve located about 30 miles southwest of Austin, TX.  A unique and beautiful natural area surrounds the pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by many, many years of water erosion.

Yes, erosion did that!  It doesn’t seem possible that something that was exposed to such harsh elements as brutal wind, relentless rain and freezing ice, over time, could become something so beautiful.  Isn’t this true of our lives?  Just as rain falls upon the earth with a purpose so does the rain that falls upon our lives.

The erosion process has begun in my own life, I can feel it; I can see it.  It may appear in the fine lines around my eyes, but more importantly it appears in the soil of my heart.  The roots are growing deeper now and I can see beyond the harsh elements to what lies ahead.

The young people in our lives need to know that times of erosion are coming.  They need to be prepared for that.  Let us be a safe place of shelter when those times come and let us lead them to the Rock that is higher, Jesus Christ.