Newsflash: Storms of Life is finally here! Check it out on my Books page!
When I wrote the Bible study Storms of Life, I drew on the lessons God taught me as I walked with Him through three difficult years. I was very involved with the mission of the Shuttle Columbia, a mission that ended in disaster in February 2003. Three months later, my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in September 2004. Her death was followed nine months later by the loss of my father-in-law in July 2005. Three crises, one right after another, left my faith reeling. Through it all, God carried me, comforted me, and taught me to trust Him.
Now, I find myself working through those lessons again. As I sit and write this, my heart's broken from the loss of my dear mother-in-law, Mary. Her funeral was just a short week ago. I flip through the pages of Storms of Life and see the pattern played out once more.
It began quietly enough. At 85, Mary lived alone in Oklahoma. For the previous three years she'd escaped to Houston for the winters but returned home each spring. We all knew that eventually the move would become permanent, and in October 2010, the time had come. So we packed her up and made the drive south.
Mary was frail but still very active and we looked forward to a year or two—or even longer—to enjoy being with her. But, as 2011 began, her health worsened. After three weeks in the hospital, we faced the difficult truth: she would not be with us much longer.
I wasn't ready—are we ever ready? I had more time—I thought. I still had so many things I wanted to share with her. Surely God could pick her up and put her on her feet again. But she continued to get worse, in spite of my prayers. I got angry, I felt helpless as I watched her weaken. I saw the dark clouds build in the distance and get ever closer with each passing day.
When we brought her home from the hospital to be on hospice, it was the beginning of three horrible weeks. She required around-the-clock care. The hospice nurses were great and my family members were there to share the load but each day seemed longer and harder than the one before. We each took shifts by her bedside and the days rolled by in a haze. Exhaustion became the cloak we wore, tiring hours broken by brief, restless naps.
Please know that we never regretted one moment. We all loved Mary deeply and ministering to her in those last days was an honor and a privilege. But, even as we took each step toward the inevitable, we all prayed for a miracle. Nothing's impossible for God, right? He could restore her to the strength she had a few months before and give us more time with her. But He chose not to; still the storm raged around us.
The end came the last week in February. We stood around her bed trying to love breath back into her body. Grief pounded our hearts as a waterfall pounds the river below. There seemed to be an endless cascade of sorrow.
Yes, somewhere deep inside, we rejoice because we know she is with Jesus. She is with her beloved Ernie. Still, we grieve.
Now the funeral has come and gone. Friends rally around us with casseroles and with love. Has the storm passed? Not yet, there are still hard decisions to make, a house full of memories to work through, and stories to tell. But there is a rainbow in the distance.
A rainbow—the promise of God's continual love and provision. Colors of healing—the purples of His sovereignty, the blues of His peace, the yellows of His joy. The promise of a time when our lives will be rich with memories and full of an eagerness to see her again.
But promises must be seized. Living God's promises is a day-to-day choice. Will I choose to accept His sovereignty and trust His plans or will I fight Him each step of the way?
Will I allow Him to fill me with His peace or continue to struggle with the anger of my loss?
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalms 18:30-32
Will I rejoice in the richness of each new day or bury my heart in the pain of the past?
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
We've all walked this path. We've each come through storms to face these choices. But I know this: God is with each one of us, every step of the way. His love surrounds us and His truth forms the solid path beneath our feet. As you take this journey with me, trust in His unfailing promises and stand on His unchangeable truths. Rest in His words. I'll see you on the other side of the rainbow.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalms 30:11-12