Wow! It has been more than a minute since I've sat down at this keyboard to write "Tuesdays with Jesus". Over a year, for sure; maybe two. What a couple of years it's been! For those of you who don't know, my husband, my dear groom, passed away on January 17, 2015. After a very shocking, short, but hard fought battle with liver cancer, the Lord took him home. I have lived 479 days without him. Just so you don't think I mark those days on my calendar, there's an app for that.
I'm not using that as an excuse for not writing. It was certainly why I haven't written for the last year and a half, but before that, I just didn't write. I don't know why. I just didn't. Right there, is where I want to thank you. I want to thank the ones who emailed, messaged, and approached me in person or on Facebook, to ask when I'm going to start writing again. I heard you. I just turned you off. Thank you to those who are still on that email list to receive my posts every Tuesday morning. Thank you to those who "follow" my posts on the blog faithfully. My numbers never went down. You are still out there. Thank you to that lady in another state, no one I knew, whose private message I found last month, in that "hidden messages" thing on Facebook, asking if I moved the blog somewhere else, because you wanted to read more. You were like the voice of the Lord to me. Thank you!
So here I am. I'm alive. I survived. Some days I even thrived. Others, not so much. But after 479 days, I believe I've learned a few things and I want to share those with you in this first "Tuesdays with Jesus" back.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)
I've received no small amount of comfort and guidance from the Father of compassion during the troubling times before and after my husband's death. In that verse, He commands me to take that very comfort, and comfort someone else. So what He has given me, I give to you.
Now, please don't X out of this post or close your email. You may not have suffered the death of your spouse, but that doesn't mean that you've never experienced a loss or great trouble of some other kind. If you're a human being walking sod on planet Earth, you've lost something, you've decided your prayers go unanswered, or you are walking in the dark of some trial right now. What is it they say? You've either had a trial, are in a trial right now, or about to be in a trial soon. So what I have to share is for you, my friend. I know I've been long-winded, and I promise after this week I won't make you read so much, but I had to say all of that to get me here.
Here is what I have learned in the deep places of darkness. Here is the answer to you who say I'm so strong, and how do I do it? First of all, I'm not always strong. I'd be lying if I even tried to make you think I was. This has been the worst, most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching time of my entire life. That being said, I've lived and breathed some foundational truths that have kept me from giving in, giving up or losing my ever-lovin' mind. My prayer is that you will consider making these truths your own, and that they will be the ground beneath your feet when your trial is making you feel like you're standing on quicksand.
Surrender Yes, I said, surrender. Take your problem to the Lord. Pray for your desired outcome. It goes without saying that I wanted Chuck to live. I prayed every single day that the Lord would heal him and that he would live with me for many more years. Of course, I did! But there came a point in time where I had to get down on my knees, sometimes multiple times a day, and say, "Not my will, but Yours be done." I'm talking full wave the white flag surrender. Not surrendering while keeping one hand on the problem. Not having a Plan B. Not my will, but Yours be done.
Don't be mad if the outcome isn't what you wanted, yearned for, or prayed for. This one piggy-backs off of the first one. If you get angry at God when it doesn't turn out the way you wanted, you never truly surrendered in the first place. I can honestly say that I have never been angry at God for taking my husband home to be with Him. Sad, yes. Lonely, yes. Angry? No. That's how I know that I truly surrendered the outcome to Him. My loving, sovereign, Heavenly Father made His decision, for His reasons, and I accept that. I surrendered.
Ask God to glorify Himself through what has happened. Ask Him to work out even this thing for your good (Romans 8:28), and for His glory. Ask Him to display His works and make Himself famous through it all. If God doesn't get the fame and the glory for what happened in my life, it was all just some heinous, horrible, random act. I continually ask Him to display the treasures found in darkness, and the immeasurable wealth found in tribulation. It may be your example to others going through a hard time. It may be to provide you with an opportunity to minister to someone who has suffered the same thing that you have. It may be an overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit's power in your life. It may be that you are now closer to the Lord than you have ever been.
Look for God's faithfulness specifically to you. I prayed for one specific thing before Chuck died that I never, ever shared with a human being. God was so faithful to answer that prayer above and beyond what I had prayed. He did it so perfectly that to this day, I can't help but smile up at Him in delight and amazement. There was no doubt He answered my prayer. Though I had plenty of opportunity to seek human aid or manipulate the situation, I kept it between me and my God. He answered, and there is not a single doubt in my mind now that He hears and answers my prayers. I'm not advising going it alone all the time. There's just some things that need to stay private between you and your Abba. And when He answers, you'll never doubt His faithfulness to you again. Remember all of the ways He has come through for you in the past, and feed on His faithfulness.
Find promises in the Word that are specific to your situation. Search for those healing Scriptures, those promises of provision, protection, strength, and peace. Read them, write them, and speak them out of your mouth, out loud. God's Word is power. It's alive and active. It's breathed from His very lips. It will renew your mind and replace the lies of the enemy who is whispering defeat in your ear. Jesus said that His Word is Truth (John 17:17). Feed on the certainty of His truth.
There you have it. This is how I made it. This is how I'm still making it to this very day. 479 days. I haven't done it perfectly. Quite the contrary, I've spent more than a few days as imperfect doing this thing as you can imagine. But underneath me are my Father's everlasting arms and under my feet is the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word. When my feet and my faith fail, He never does, and I go back to these truths over and over again. Aren't you glad He's a God of second chances. And third and fourth......?
I am honored and privileged to give to you what God has given me. I pray this helps you in whatever situation you're in.
"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)