What feels like forever ago, and at the same time just yesterday, I wrote this blog post about how absolutely terrified I was to go back to school last August (2015) and begin my junior year, after having to stop attending in December 2014 (and begin home hospital services with an IEP in the Spring of 2015) because of my persistent post concussion syndrome.
And although it seemed by that point in the summer that I had been miraculously healed because of my recently developed ability to go out and do things, smile (because this did not happen much during the “winter” of my concussion), read, go on trips, etc., I knew that this was only the joy of the Lord in me and His strength magnified in my weakness that made all the difference, because I was still in unspeakable pain.
In the blog that I wrote last August, right before returning to school, it captures this when I said, “If I can’t walk around a store for 5 minutes, then how am I supposed to go to school for 7 hours every single day?”
And so I got down on my face on the ground, and prayed that the Lord would somehow, someway, miraculously take away the burden of going to school in this pain that was before me because I could not bear it.
But like Jesus in Gethsemane, I prayed, “Nevertheless, Your will be done…”
But that is not really what I wanted. Because this fear was cultivated in the soil of my unbelief in the Lord and in His promises.
Simply put, I did not trust Him.
When He says, “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,” (Isaiah 43:2) that is enough for a soul that trusts Him and takes Him up on His Word to rely on no matter what they will ever face.
Because although God doesn’t promise that there won’t be problems in our lives –in fact, He assures us that there will be– He does guarantee His presence in them and that He will always bring beauty out of ashes.
So although God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan were beyond my ability to fathom, I tried to believe that God would somehow get me through, and I went to the first day of school.
…And I came home with a migraine.
Then I went to the second day of school. And I came home with a migraine. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and so on.
Instead of trembling with fear at my circumstances, I should have been trembling in fear at the only One who was mighty enough to carry me through them.
And He did. Oh, how He did.
Even when I didn’t understand. Even when I came home with a migraine day after day, and I still do, He would tenderly respond to my cries of “why” and “how long, O Lord?” by saying,
“Seek My face, my child, there is rest in My arms alone. Trust My heart and that I delight in bringing beauty out of brokenness.”
And sometimes, when we are facing difficult situations, trusting the Lord seems impossible because fear is too strong and we are too weak and we are just ready to give up. But still, even in our doubt, He asks,
“Can you trust My heart even when you can’t trace My hand?”
And so going to school was the ultimate test of whether or not I could really learn to trust in Him.
But this word, trust, is so overused, how do I even begin to learn how to trust?
As Jerry Bridges says, “Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelms us.”
So trust is a choice, not necessarily a feeling. I must wake up everyday, and before I do the hard thing in front of me I make this choice to cling to His promises and trust His heart. So that is what I had to learn to do.
As I got further into my junior year, I did a lot of things that people who are not living in chronic pain do, like become a Wyldlife leader, babysit, and get a job.
And sometimes when I would see family, friends and doctors and update them on these things in my life, but inform them that I was still not much better, (instead the joy and strength that the Lord gives was sustaining me) they would look at me like I had two heads. Often, they would respond by saying something like, “Well, if you really aren’t better, then how come you have a job? You couldn’t have done that last year,” and “You are doing so well in school. You couldn’t have done that last year.”
While I am all for celebrating small victories, these comments would hurt me and frustrate me because they were followed by Satan’s whispering lies into my ears… “No one understands what you have been through. No one ever will. You are all alone. God said He would heal you, but look where you are now. Is God really good? Can you really trust Him?”
Hear me when I say this: Nothing shames Satan straight back to the depths of hell like a life that shouts YES! I CAN and DO TRUST HIM because no matter what I face, the cross is proof that He loves me enough to only use suffering for my good, and that everything that comes into my life has been allowed by Him for a reason far greater than I could even imagine.
Jerry Bridges goes on to say, “If there is a single event in all of the universe that can occur outside of the sovereign control of God, we cannot trust Him.”
But is there anything that is outside of the sovereign control of God? Is there a tear that we shed that He doesn’t feel? Is there a prayer that we pray that He doesn’t hear? Is there something that can happen to us that is too great for God to handle?
Because I know that often I live my life in fear thinking that my circumstances were too unexpected for God and I am waiting on Him because He is still figuring out how to handle them.
But no. We can trust Him because 1 Chronicles 16:31 assures us that the He is sovereign:
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.“
And, by the grace of God, today was the last day of classes of my junior year.
Looking back in retrospect, I can hardly comprehend the Lord’s great faithfulness to me because I can see in the rearview mirror how even during all of those times when I doubted, He has always held me so close.
He carried me through this school year.
It would have been absolutely impossible for me to finish this school year by my own strength.
But I have been Job, and I have found his words to be true: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
Don’t get me wrong, I am still in unceasing pain. This life is still so hard because my tendency is self-pity but God calls me to self-denial because that is where I find Him and in Him is fulfillment and life and strength and joy everlasting.
And I pray that our lives would shout “I trust in Him alone!” and that we would fear nothing but God because He is longing for us to take Him the heck up on His Word already.