I ended my last post with Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” This verse was brought to my attention through the book Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie. It’s an amazing book, and God has used it and the Bible study Annointed,Transformed, Redeemed to speak to me over the past couple of weeks.
Let me share a few more verses that have been challenging me:
John 6:66-69 — From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Luke 7:23 — “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Jesus spoke these words to men that John the Baptist sent to Jesus to ask him if he was indeed the Christ. John couldn’t go and ask Jesus because he was in prison. Jesus told the messengers to tell John that Jesus was healing people and spreading the good news to the poor.)
While these verses may seem random and completely unrelated to each other or the fact that today marks 6 months since Hannah left this world and entered into eternity in heaven, let me attempt to explain why they’re so meaningful, challenging and/or comforting to me at this time.
Six months is a big milestone.
By this time, we have established a new normal. We are able to carry on day-to-day life with a regularity and stability that comes from God’s great grace. We have deeply mourned, and now we have progressed to deeply missing our princess. It’s another step out of the valley of despair that cancer and death threw us into. While we still have really hard moments, times when we sob and wrestle with God, we are not stuck in a pit of despair. Each day, every moment that we choose joy, we make another step up out of the valley.
The past month has been rough. Too many reminders of Hannah: what she should be doing and learning, what she might look like at 20 months, how she would have impacted my school day, how she would be making new friends, how she would interact with (and maybe boss around) her brothers, etc. Too many reminders that life is fragile: my dad’s possible cancer, Aaron’s grandmother’s failing health, deaths at the hospital, reports of tragedies from around the world, etc. All these thoughts bring emotions that are deep and strong, and they often cause me to wrestle with God. Praise God, for He is faithful! For every question I ask, for every claim I make, for every tear I cry, He has a promise for me.
Matthew 10:28 reminds me that I must not fear man, or even Satan. No man or evil can take my life without God’s permission. It is God who has ordained my days. It is God who has written every day of my life in His book before one of them came to be. It is God who has entrusted me with this suffering. It is God who is sovereign and trustworthy, and He has promised to protect my soul until I am in heaven with Him.
John 6:66-69 is my heart’s cry. If Jesus were to look me face-to-face and ask me if I want to leave him, all I could say is, “LORD, to whom shall I go?” The reality is that I have only two choices: to bring Him honor OR to bring Him disgrace. Beth Moore, in her part of Annointed,Transformed, Redeemed, says, “David could either sit down in the dirt, throw a handful on his head, and refuse to get up or he could pour his heart out, bawl his eyes out, catch his God-given breath, and cling to Him for dear life…Sometimes we arrive at a place where we can either lose or gain ground, but returning to life as it was before is no longer an option.” Well said, Beth. Even when I don’t understand God, I must choose to gain ground. I refuse to loose it, because if any ground is lost then suffering is worthless. God has indeed ordained this and therefore has entrusted me to walk through this with His grace and humility. I intend to do my best to make Him proud.
Luke 7:18-23 is where it really gets ugly though. I found myself questioning God again: “Lord, why? Why didn’t you do something for me? How much more can I handle? Why are you forsaking me?” I’m comforted by the fact that Jesus Himself questioned God like this. In light of Jesus’ upcoming crucifixion, Jesus asked the Father to change plans. And God told His Son no. In Luke, we see John the Baptist sitting in jail while Jesus is out healing strangers. John was Jesus’ forerunner. He was special, and yet Jesus seemingly ignored him. Why?
I don’t have a good answer except to say that God’s plans are better. John was martyred and taken to heaven immediately while all those people who Jesus healed were left to live their lives on earth and await their future deaths. They had to wait longer for heaven. Jesus had to suffer intensely so that we all had access to heaven.
Sometimes we get angry or question God when we know He’s big enough and powerful enough to stop the bad stuff from happening. While that’s totally natural and perfectly human, it can NOT be the end to our faith. We must cry out to God…AND THEN, cling to Him as we obey Him. God’s plan is bigger and better and way more perfect than mine. Even when the choice is hard, I must choose to trust Him and believe in His promises.
So here is my choice: I choose to stand in awe of His attention to detail, of His tender and patient love for me, of the way He holds each of us and the entire universe in His hands at the same time. How can I feel so special when He loves billions of people equally? I choose to trust that His plan is bigger and better and that He’ll show me that all the pain was worth it in the end. I’d still take it all back if given the choice because I miss her so much and fail to see past my own emotions. But, since I can’t have her back on this side of heaven, I will work to make my sacrifice worthwhile as long as I have breath.
My favorite part of Nancy Guthrie’s book was the end of each chapter. She closes each chapter with a message from Jesus. Let me close with a portion of the one from chapter 2 which is entitled “Hear Jesus Saying, I, too, Have Heard God Tell Me No.”
I hear your prayers, asking for your path to be smooth and asking the Father to bless your plans with success. But I have to tell you, that is not how I am praying for you. I love you too much for that. I am praying that when your plans go awry and your efforts fail, your faith will not. I am asking the Father to give you the good gift you have asked him for — more of my Holy Spirit at work in the interior of your life and character.
I am praying that you will walk in the truth and complete the work that has been entrusted to you — not so you can revel in the glory, but so you can experience the joy of giving the glory back to me. I am praying that the truth of my Word will teach you and refine you, even though that refining may be painful, because I know your greatest happiness will come as you become holy as I am holy.
The day is coming when you will see and share in the glory I have shared with my Father since before Creation. I’m praying that God will purify you and protect you until that coming day.
Praise and Prayer Requests:
1. Praise God that the boys are doing so well. They are able to talk about Hannah, her life and homegoing with a maturity that is beyond their years.
2. Praise God that the co-op is going well. The missionary teacher arrives on Tuesday, so things should get even better once she takes over. Please pray for her as she says good-byes and travels to Kenya.
3. Praise God that Levi love preschool!
4. Praise God that my extra househelper is great. She’s still learning how to manage Levi in my absence (I still haven’t figured out how to handle him!), but she is doing a fine job at keeping him safe.
5. Please pray for my dad. He must go for a biopsy on a possible cancer on his vocal cord.
6. Please pray for Aaron’s family as they anticipate the passing of Grammy Walker, Aaron’s mom’s mother.
7. Please pray for us as we attempt to plan for our future here at Tenwek.
8. Please pray for each other, that we will pray in accordance to God’s perfect plan for our lives.