As the rainy winter began turning to a warm spring, I looked forward to the season of new starts where the air seems fresher, the flowers brighter, and the skies bluer. Little did I know things were not going to be as bright as that. Spring wasn’t offering the fresh beginnings I was expecting. Instead, it brought with it a difficult diagnosis in my teenager, a job reassignment, cancer, and a significant change in my church.
My teenage daughter had been struggling with anxiety for quite a while. She tried a combination of natural remedies including supplements, diet changes, and exercise, all of which helped some, but not enough. She then tried a few different medications but was still battling social anxiety and panic attacks. My husband and I took her took a psychiatrist who eventually diagnosed her as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although she is high functioning, the deficits in social communication, behaviors, and patterns are there. My family and I had always considered our daughter quirky but certainly never expected this! With this assessment came first shock, then adjustment, and lastly, acceptance. We had to find a therapist for her and make some shifts in expectations, goals, and daily living.
Just as we were getting accustomed to the diagnosis, my husband found out his job required him to work over 200 miles away for an unknown length of time. This new job location meant he would leave our home at 3:45 AM Monday morning to arrive to work on time and return home Friday evenings around 10 PM. His 14-hour workdays meant little energy for much else, but he had to gear up for the weekends because of ministry obligations. He is the Couple’s Ministry Pastor at our church which includes not only teaching a class, but could also consist of serving communion, doing announcements, prayer corner rotation, counseling, Elder’s meetings, and any other needs that may arise. This change wasn’t easy for our daughter who thrives on routine nor me.
Shortly after my husband’s job reassignment, we discovered his mother has kidney cancer. The doctors found a large mass on her right kidney along with a host of other medical problems requiring some life changes. In addition to this difficult news, my best friend resigned from her position as worship leader at our church and was moving out of the country. These stressful situations happening all at the same time turned our world upside down. We felt as though we were living in the dark of winter season where things are frozen and lifeless. We felt as if we could drown in our suffering, sorrow, and sadness. It was so much to take in at once.
One section of section of Scripture offered us a life raft.
Isaiah 43: 1b-3a says,
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Here we are commanded not to be afraid because God has redeemed us. We are His! He promises to go through the hardships of life with us. We don’t have to do it alone. We can trust that He holds us, protects us, guards us, and cares for us. He would not have created, redeemed, and called us unless He intended to finish His work in us. God will be with us through any obstacle, any trial, in the toughest of circumstances, those times when we feel like we are drowning or being consumed. We don’t have to panic; we don’t have to fear, we don’t have to run because we have a Savior who walks through it all with us. He reminds us that He is the Lord our God, the Holy one, our Savior. We belong to Him, and He loves us so much.
Our circumstances have not changed; however, we won’t be overcome by them. My daughter still has Autism Spectrum Disorder, my husband still works far away from home during the week, my mother-in-law still has health issues, and our church is still without a worship leader, but God knows all of this. He is walking through all these difficulties with us. We are not alone. We hold His promises to be true and are comforted by His presence. We are leaning on the Lord for strength, for joy, for wisdom, for comfort, and for sustenance.
Trials are inevitable, and perhaps your life feels like the dark of winter, too. It is helpful to remember that winter doesn’t last forever, that spring always comes. While you wait for the next season to arrive, remember the Lord is walking through the darkest of days right alongside you in this season. He won’t allow you to be swept away by your difficulties. He knows you by name, and you are His, so hang in there because He will see you through.
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