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Posts from the ‘trusting God’ Category

He numbers our days.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

Whether we are in the at-risk category or not, Covid-19 does not alter the number of days that God has already ordained for us. Before we were even conceived, He already numbered the days we would live. And He already numbered the days of our loved ones.

A virus does not hold life and death in its hands. Our perfect Father does (1 Samuel 2:5).

And we can trust Him.

Regarding Covid-19, the flu, etc.

I sent this email to my church family on March 5th, a week before the coronavirus was declared pandemic and beginning to spread in exponential numbers in Southern California. Some of the details I would change if it were sent now (e.g., more encouragement toward social distancing) but I’m posting it here to remind myself when I get swept up in the latest news … and for anyone else who visits here.


 

Hi church family,

I was reminded of this psalm today as I was reflecting on some personal conversations I’ve had with some of you:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Psalm 91:1-6

 Don’t Be Afraid — Pray

The news is blaring with all things coronavirus, and some of us have a bent toward panic and control while some of us have a bent toward passivity and a whatever attitude. And we can all waver between the two. 🙂

But as a church, I think we can encourage each other not to fear but to pray, and to speak truth to one another. We can also remind each other of who God is.

Would you pray with me? That God would cause those fearful to repent of their idolatry and cause them to ponder their mortality and turn to Him. That we as a church would be bold and eager and loving to share the gospel with our neighbors and those who express fear in our families and church family. That God would stem the tide of this virus and not allow any others to become ill or die.

But also, I wanted to encourage us to consider how we might practice love to our neighbor during flu season and with the slow spread of this specific coronavirus.

Love Our Neighbor

We have an increasingly “young” church, and those of us who are healthy and young without any underlying health conditions and strong immune systems might find it easy to scoff at the fear of those who are more cautious. Or we might think it no big deal to just show up sick.

Let’s remember that we have precious elderly saints among us who are more susceptible to severe illness. Let’s remember that we have young babies who are vulnerable to viruses. And we have immune-compromised church family among us who we might not see for long stretches of time during the cold and flu season because some of us don’t think twice about showing up, even when we’re very ill and contagious.

I don’t think this means we should never show up when we’re sick, but I think some of us can more lovingly consider our neighbor as we decide.

And for those who are more prone to fear and extreme isolation, let’s remember that we are church family, not just fellow carriers of illness. 🙂 Christians were often distinguished during times of plague and pestilence by their willingness to welcome people into their homes and to go out and care for the sick, even at personal risk.

Pray Together

Would you pray with me for all these things? That we would be this kind of church in the face of pestilence? And for the health workers among us who come in contact with the most ill? Let’s pray for their protection.

Rest for the weary.

“No rest for the weary, when you feel like it all rests on you.” (Tim Keller)

He is adequate.

A post I never published from last March.  I’m sure many more of these moments are to come in motherhood.  I can depend on Him for everything.

Today, I was at a loss for how to deal with Cub.  I had too much of my own frustration and sin clouding my judgment, and perhaps he did, too.  I searched Scripture and my memory for things I could say, wisdom I could impart — but I came up empty.

Finally, I just went to his room, clasped his hands in mine, and wept and prayed.  For the both of us.

I didn’t know what to give my son in his rebellion and mine.  I could only pour out our inadequacies to the only one who is adequate.

My prayers will not save him.  My tears will not soften him.

But God can.

And I pray He will.

Unexpected providence.

A few weeks ago, I saw an old friend at a first birthday party.  We attended high school and college together but hadn’t really seen each other since college graduation.  She mentioned that she read my article for Desiring God, where I wrote a little about my grandpa’s journey through Alzheimer’s and to salvation.

Then she lowered her voice a little, “I never told you this, but I had rotations at your grandpa’s skilled nursing facility during my nursing program.”  She and another friend from our high school both worked a few months at the facility where my grandpa stayed, but because of privacy laws, she wasn’t sure if she could share that information with me at the time.

“I didn’t realize he was your grandpa until I saw your photo by his bed.”  And she shared with me how agitated he was back then, how she tried to help translate for the other nurses since his English was limited, and how she prayed for him.

By then, we both had tears streaming down our cheeks.

She didn’t know until she read my article that he had come to know Christ about a year after she had cared for him.  And I never realized God had provided for my grandpa in such an incredible way — a nurse who, unbeknownst to my family or me, joined us in petitioning God for his soul.

In how many more unseen ways did God work in my grandpa’s life back then?  Stories I don’t even know about?

And in how many more unseen ways is He working now in the lives of those for whom I am praying but not seeing fruit for yet?

His ways are higher.  Unsearchable.  Perfect.

There is sweetness at the bottom.

Adoniram Judson, one of the first American missionaries to Burma, after the death of his wife, writing to console a sister and colaborer in the faith who just lost her husband:

You are now drinking the bitter cup whose dregs I am somewhat acquainted with…I can assure you that months and months of heartrending anguish are before you…I can only advise you to take the cup with both hands, and sit down quietly to the bitter repast which God has appointed for your sanctification…Take the bitter cup with both hands, and sit down to your repast.  You will soon learn a secret, that there is sweetness at the bottom.. You will find it the sweetest cup that you ever tasted in all your life.  You will find heaven coming near to you…

(Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma, p. 199)

In Christ, there is sweetness at the bottom of every bitter cup appointed to us.

Full healing one day.

My mama-in-law’s Alzheimer’s has been accelerating into the final stages lately.  Her body has become more stiff, and she’s very hunched over while trying to walk or — as it gets later into the day — hunched over on the floor, unable to rise.

Last night, when JE was there with Cub, JE was trying to get her off the floor and into a more comfortable position.  Cub bothered him in the process, and he told Cub, “I’m trying to help Halmuni, because she’s sick.”

And Cub stopped bothering him and thought for a bit.  Then he said, “When Halmuni gets to heaven, she won’t be sick anymore.”

Hope from a little mouth in the face of Alzheimer’s.

His wise, kind hand.

“Mother says we ought to study God’s Providence more than we do, since He has a meaning and a purpose in everything He does.  Sometimes I can do this and find it a source of great happiness.  Then worldly cares seem mere worldly cares, and I forget that His wise, kind hand is in every one of them.”

(Elisabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward, 274)

I’ve picked this book up again.  The first time I read it, I was a depressed, bedridden sophomore in college.  I was in bed for two days and read this book, missing all my classes.  Then I read it again as a senior, nursing a broken heart and wondering what the future held.  Then I read it again, maybe even twice, while teaching high school and/or in grad school.  Then I read it again after marrying JE, finding him to be very much like Katy’s dear Ernest.

And now — I read it as a mother of two, feeling more pressed by worldly cares than ever before.

But to remember that God’s wise, kind hand is in all of my worldly cares.  This brightens the dull task, the worry for so many loved ones, and the hidden service of being a wife, a mother, a daughter.

I’m grateful.

 

God is holding us.

In the past month, certain conversations and events have triggered memories of abuse and violence in my childhood — abuse that I’ve witnessed, violence that has happened in and to my family, and the destructive force of sinful fury.  And I never noticed it before, but when something triggers these memories, even though I feel mentally fine, my body begins to shake.  And I can’t stop.

One memory.

I remember the night when my mom was nearly killed by a family friend.  She escaped and called us frantically to lock all the doors and turn off all the lights.  She told us he was coming after us, too.  She told us to hide.  And when I had to go into our dark garage to lock the back door, not knowing if he would be around the corner or trying to break in to harm us, my legs almost buckled as I ran.  But I made it.  I locked the door and hid with the cordless phone in my hand.

I was 13.

That night, as the police sat in our dining room and asked me questions, I couldn’t stop shaking.  My legs and arms and body shook uncontrollably, twitching, flailing, trembling apart from my will.

And to this day, when someone asks me about that night, when my brother and I talk about that night, when I hear someone scream in tones that remind me of my mom’s voice that night, my body shakes with similar intensity.  My mind may be fine, I may not feel emotionally distressed, but my body shakes.  And I can’t stop it.

I’m 32 now.  But even my body doesn’t forget.

Similarly, I’ve read of others who have dealt with the abuse of trauma.  Others who have suffered and deal with post traumatic stress disorder, many to a far greater degree than I have.  And they deal with similar, unexpected triggers that paralyze them again in the midst of everyday life.

Where is God during those times?

Where is He when we are shaking with the intensity of unerasable memory, incredible trauma?

This is my conclusion and growing conviction after all these years —

He is holding us.

Based on Scripture, experience, and the marriage of the two, this is what I am convinced of: His sovereign, gentle hands are holding us during the times when we tremble with the memory of trauma.

The answer is simple, but the healing process is not.  The answer is simple, but our belief in it is not.

But thank God — He isn’t done with us yet.  And until He is finished, and even then, He is holding us.

Redeeming love.

 

Moving up and down California (born north, moved south for college, moved back home post-college, moved south post-marriage and two kids), I feel like I leave bits of my story every place I go and every place I leave.

San Jose is full of babyhood, childhood, high school.  San Diego and parts of the OC have slices of college tucked away in them.  Santa Clara and Campbell echo with both the sweet and painful memories of my single years — teaching, finishing grad school, church planting, and falling in love as my family was falling apart.  Oakland and Castro Valley have all the first scenes of marriage and motherhood.

But a line from a hymn comes to mind and drowns out all the sounds of transition and struggle: Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be ’til I die.

God’s redeeming love has been the chorus of every bit of my story.

We aren’t settled yet.  The narrative of OC life is just starting.  I have no idea what to expect.  But I have no doubt that God’s redeeming love — His ongoing gospel work in our hearts and lives, and pouring out to those around us — will continue to be the theme … to His glory.