It has been a long, excruciating 7 weeks since my last Still Waters post. Seven weeks filled with some blissful highs and frightening lows; there has been an over abundance of vomiting, tears, wet-to-dry wound changes, shots, pills, unrelenting pain and overwhelming sadness, but also, overwhelming love and support. Following my major surgery on November 6, I spent the next 23 days (the first 7 in ICU) in the hospital. I won’t go into details regarding that time as I do not care to relive what happened there, whether good or bad. Upon my return home I was hopeful that the worst was behind me and although I knew this recovery would continue to be brutal, frustrating and all-around miserable I was confident that things may finally start to turn around.
Sadly, my family faced the sudden loss of our beloved Mamaw (my dad’s mother) on December 12. She was the second grandparent we have lost this year. She had been in bad health for years but always came out on the other side…this time; however, God was ready to call her home. As Christians we find peace, solace, and comfort in knowing that our loved ones are in a better place once they leave this Earth. Death means they can finally take hold of the prize which Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:12-14, the prize that I am so desperately trying to keep my eyes on:
“…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Though I smile when I think about Mamaw entering those pearly gates, if I’m being honest I must admit that right now my spirit is completely broken. I keep thinking, “How much more can I take? Oh Lord God, how much more suffering must my family endure? When will it all get better? How much longer? I desperately want to give up, I long to stop fighting this battle. I’m so ready to be done with all of this.” There’s a new vacancy in my heart that opened up with this loss, new pain, new sadness stacked on top of the old. I continue to cry out to God that I can’t do this anymore. I can no longer be strong when every piece of me feels so weak and is falling apart. I simply cannot do it….
And suddenly, I’m reminded that it’s not my job to be strong…I don’t have to hold all of this weight upon my shoulders when I have a Heavenly Father desiring to do the heavy lifting. I must keep my eyes on the prize. He shows me that it’s okay to mourn through the words in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
He reassures me that He is near when I cry and is mighty to save, Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
He teaches me not to be afraid of human weakness and suffering because His grace will carry me through anything Satan can throw my way, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize.
Christmas is in just a few days and honestly, I’m kind of dreading it. I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t want to celebrate when my heart is so sad and my body is in such awful pain. But, I have to remind myself to push all that negativity aside and keep my eyes on the prize. No matter how awful the circumstances, nothing we endure on this Earth can take away from the free gift of salvation poured over us by our loving Father. Christmas is for celebrating the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary, for remembering His 33 years of ministry on this Earth, for rejoicing over His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection on the third day which delivers us from sin and reconciles us to God the Father. When I ponder that beautiful, priceless, overwhelming gift of love, how could I not want to celebrate?!
In loving memory of Norma Jean Chaney (June 1933- December 2014). Someday, we’ll be together again.