I visited a friend yesterday who is dying of cancer. Just in case you are wondering, cancer sucks, but it will one day be defeated. That day has not yet come. It was good to be with my friend. We talked about his memorial service — what songs and scriptures might be used. We talked about catching large mouth bass on Santee Cooper Lakes in South Carolina. His wife and I ungracefully moved an over-sized recliner down a narrow staircase so that he’d have a more comfortable place to rest. We read the Bible. We circled up and grabbed hands to pray with his family and a hospice nurse. We talked about what lies ahead. We spoke of faith that is sometimes small and a God who is always big.
It was good to share in the struggle of my friend, and to remind him that God never leaves us, never abandons us. God is here, even when things are rough. It was good to remind myself as well.
Are you facing a trial that requires faith? Maybe your trial is a disobedient child that is running from Jesus. Maybe its a life transition that you didn’t want. Or, like my friend, maybe you are approaching the final trial of staring at death through eyes that know life is short. Whatever you face, God is with you, and God is for you.
Life moves like a wild roller-coaster ride of ups and downs and unexpected turns. As you approach the next corner unable to see what’s ahead, you can rest in the reality that God is overseeing the ride.
In the midst of trials, it is good for the soul to dwell on God’s promises. I thought I’d share a few with you. In my prayer and bible reading this week, I spent some good time reflecting on this verse:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
We’ve been memorizing this verse with my children:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not give up, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
What verses of scripture do you look to when you are facing a trial?
My friend passed away Friday morning. Had a good time with the family Thursday afternoon reading scripture, praying, singing and swapping stories. Thanks for all the great comments and verses. Always good to learn from you all.
Jeff, thank you for this reminder. I agree so much that we need to dwell on the promise of God during such times. @Jamie, it is often times very hard to hold the faith personally, as compared to how we are able to articulate it as our minds understand it.
I read something this week about God understands the faith that we hold deep in our soul, but we often simply live too close to the surface. Cling to what you know to be true and allow others to carry the faith for you in times of great need.
As I walked through the last months, weeks and days of my dear friend Jenn’s battle with cancer, I believe that I have learned a few things that I hope I can hold onto when the “dust settles’.
1. God is good and faithful.
2. His promises do no change (we must remind ourselves of them often)
3. The beloved community of believers are a vital part of our life with Christ.
4. There are seasons where I am called to carry the faith and there are seasons when I am called to rest in HIM and HIS promises and allow others to hold up my arms and carry the faith for me.
So much more to learn. One foot in front of the other.
I do not take this life for granted any more (Oh, Toad The Wet Sprocket)
Thank you Jeff, I have seen first hand….through friends, family, and patients what the body has to endure when medicine has done all it can. It can be hard to hold onto faith in such difficult times. I often find myself talking a good line, but in my own life, questioning too much. The past two years have brought me closer to God than I have ever been, and I have to thank you and the rest of our church family for that. The verse that I look to when I feel most alone and feel that my faith is slipping is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Ephesians 6:10-20 has an awful lot in it. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…..with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all those of God.”
Joshua 1:9 has been a great comfort to me, I even have a necklace that I wear with that verse inscribed on it. The other verses that I turn to are Psalm 121 and II Cor 4:16, I especially love the translation in The Message: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.”
This came at a good time Jeff. Thank you. This week has sucked, we had a funeral for a close friend whose life was taken way to soon. We have close friends who are expecting twins and are experiencing some complications. I have a high school friend who was hit on his bike and is likely paralyzed from the waist down. Just in a week it has been blow after blow. Katie and I consider ourselves truly blessed and maybe we have just been spoiled with good fortune in our lives and with our friends, that has made this week seem awful. Thank you again.