“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Springtime in Texas often brings with it some pretty severe storms. Recently our city experienced an F2 intensity tornado. Although the local television station meteorologists were closely monitoring the severe storms in the area, “our” tornado actually popped up right before striking, seemingly out of nowhere. Over 600 homes were badly damaged, with 19 of those homes being totally destroyed. Even though extensive damage to properties occurred, we praise the Lord there were no serious injuries or fatalities. Needless to say, it was a very scary time for our community.
Our storm did pass, but with major damage and destruction, it will be a long time before things are back to normal for those whose homes and lives were affected. It has been good to see everyone coming together to help with cleanup and provisions that are needed.
As much as we’d like to avoid them, there are other types of storms that sometimes pop up out of nowhere. We may be rocking right along and all seems right in our world. Life is good. All is well. Suddenly, our lives are shaken to the core, testing every ounce of faith, courage, strength, and perseverance within us.
Allow me to tell you about my family’s greatest storm to date. It came on May 29, 2015, when my daughter, Shelly, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I watched her suffer for 17.5 months before Jesus called her home. During that time, I entered into uncharted waters emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
During Shelly’s illness, I spent at least 5 days a week, doing what a mother does—trying with all my might to make things better for her—to fix what was wrong. However, I found myself powerless to fix anything. Some days, I felt as though I wanted to run away, or wake up and find that it was all a bad dream. Then, I felt guilty for feeling that way! Life became a vicious cycle of tears and heaviness.
Shelly’s illness and death took an unimaginable toll on me. I say this not for pity, but simply as a fact. I was left with a broken heart unlike anything I had ever experienced. I’ve suffered a fair amount of loss, pain, and uncertainty in my life, but this time it was almost too much for me to bear. The human Carolyn entertained the thought of giving up. However, I found no other way out than to rely on God for every breath that I took. When you’re at that point, there’s only one direction in which to safely go. I chose wisely because deep down, I knew this was where I would find my comfort and peace.
I did not give up because I realized what I already knew in my spirit—that I could never stop trusting and serving the Lord. How could I, when He has always been so faithful to me, even in the midst of the deep, dark valley in which I dwelt.
I could not give up because His faithfulness, love, grace, provision, perfect timing, and mercy were so evident during Shelly’s illness and ultimate home going.
I could not give up because I realized that the relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was the most important relationship I would ever have in my life. I needed Jesus more than ever. I needed the never-changing stability He brought to my life. I needed my Christian sisters and brothers, my church family, those who had been faithful to pray diligently for Shelly and her family. During our season of sorrow these brothers and sisters went the extra mile to stand firm with us in ONE Spirit. This act of love will never be forgotten.
In the midst of my dark valley, I realized that God still had a plan and a job for me to do—which included telling others what Jesus has done for me, even in the valley. Especially in the valley. And how He can do the same for them if they will only trust Him.
Before she went to heaven, Shelly told me that she hoped I could tell my story someday. When given the opportunity to speak to others, I have tried to do that in a small way. It is just one way that I can honor God and Shelly’s memory, while keeping both close to my heart.
If you are facing a situation today that seems impossible to maneuver, I want to encourage you to turn your worries and heartaches over to Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t quit!! Through His endless love and mercy, He remains the same as He was yesterday, as He is today, and as He will be tomorrow. There is never a situation in life He can’t handle. Give Him all of your burdens. Give Him your sadness. Give Him your grief. Give Him your uncertainties and insecurities. Give Him EVERYTHING! Jesus waits for you to knock on His hearts door. He is ready and willing to open the door.
Today, I want to urge you to going forward because Jesus walks beside you. And on those days when you are too weary to walk, He’ll carry you! I guarantee it! Better still, He and His Word guarantees it!!
Remember, your storms won’t last. Things may not be the same, but God, in all of His mercy, will help you to keep going forward one day at a time. He will see you through.