The year 2018 became a whirlwind for my family. My first book had been sent to the publisher and I was assigned a professional editor to help prepare the manuscript for publication.
While in Florida that February/March, my tooth began to ache. By the time we returned home, the tooth had abscessed and had to be surgically removed. Even with antibiotics I suffered for ten days after the surgery. Shortly thereafter, I experienced heart palpitations which left me weak and anxious.
In the past the rapid heart rate lasted only a few hours, but this time it lingered and sent my heart into atrial fibrillation. Two cardioversions, a heart ablation and three nights in the hospital later, I was prescribed a strong medication to keep the heart in sinus rhythm. The pill had to be taken every twelve hours with no exception. The medical nurse threatened a return to the hospital if I missed a dose. Even the thought of such a mandate overwhelmed me.
By late spring, we discovered that my husband needed heart valve replacement. We had hoped for a simple procedure until the catherization revealed three blocked arteries. Open heart surgery was scheduled for mid-summer. Before the surgery, he had a colon blockage that resulted in major surgery to remove three feet of his colon.
Years of trusting God did not prepare me for this kind of stress. Spending hours at the hospital with my husband while dealing with my own problems left me feeling as if I walked a tight rope with no safety net. A seventy-three year old woman should not have to endure such stress. Thank God for friends and family members who understood and supported us through prayer and encouragement.
During one of Charlie’s hospitalizations, a minister friend we hadn’t heard from in years called from his home in Tennessee. When I told him our situation, he prayed for both of us over the phone. I felt God’s peaceful presence filling the room. His timely prayer triggered the beginning of recovery.
All my life, I had trusted God through every tough situation–sickness, losses, work-related crisis and relationship issues. But the year 2018 challenged my trust level and left me feeling abandoned at times. I allowed the pressure in my chest to build with each crisis, until my heart could take no more. I had forgotten God’s promises.
Amid dealing with health issues, had I neglected the source of my peace? Amazingly, even in times when God seems far away, he has his “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” surrounding us and working on our behalf. Despite Isaiah’s prophesies of doom and gloom for the people of Israel, he reminds the people of God’s faithful love and mercy. Instead of depending on their own strength or the armies and idols of the surrounding nations, he wanted them to depend on Him.
We might not have a foreign army invading our territory, but our problems often surround us. Grasping at anything that might help, we seek every solution but the One who stands close by waiting for us to ask. In the study of Isaiah, I saw a few steps we might take to turn things around.
1. Recognize who you are compared to God.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
2. Repent of your failure to trust God.
. . . If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. . . . Isaiah 50:10-11
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says. “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15
The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Psalm 103:8
Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. Isaiah 59:1
3. Stop listening to thoughts of doubt and fear.
But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken! Isaiah 54:17
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
4. Wait prayerfully on God; ask Him to increase your faith.
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:18
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31
5. Ask others to stand with you in prayer.
O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Isaiah 62:6
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the LORD. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the LORD will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. James 5:14-15
6. Don’t be afraid even when facing death.
Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die. Isaiah 57:1-2
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalms 23:4
7. Trust the promises in God’s Word.
I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . .” Isaiah 43:1-3
8. Listen for what God might want you to learn.
This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11
9. Use the wisdom God gives you to comfort and strengthen others.
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. Isaiah 50:4
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
10. Worship him even in the midst of trials.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Read all of Psalm 136 aloud. Here are two verses that especially spoke to me. (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (23) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
By the time our health had improved, I knew I had learned another valuable lesson: In the darkest moments of our lives, God is with us. He never gives up on us and His faithful love endures forever.
|Are you going through a trial that seems dark and hopeless? Leave a comment and I promise to pray earnestly for you. God is more than willing and able to walk with you through this trial. Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 . . . And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b (Most Scriptures quoted from the New Living Translation.)|