When Life Happens

How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. –James 4:14 TLB

 Life can turn on a dime.

A 39-year-old wife and mother is diagnosed with ALS – progressive, incurable. One minute she’s raising her kids, planning for the future, and the next all those hopes and dreams come crashing down around her. How to tell her three children?

A 97-year-old woman losing her eyesight waits in a personal care home, longing for the day God calls her home. But before that happens, she learns she has cancer.

A 57-year-old husband, father, and grandfather is sent home to hospice care, which barely lasts a week, leaving his family devastated and his young grandchildren dealing with a grief they cannot understand.

A 59-year-old doting grandmother faces months, even years, of recovery after a head-on collision, which the other driver caused. Not to mention the insurance hassles.

A young man, 24, his divorced mother’s only child, loses his fight with drug addiction.

Divorce. Unemployment. Suicide. The list goes on.

When these things happen, you realize you’d rather deal with the question marks of life than the certainty of the long, dark valley stretching ahead of you. The valley of progressive, incurable disease. The valley of waiting. The valley of grief. But you have no choice. It is what it is.

How do you cope with the certainty of life’s uncertainty?

By focusing on five things that are certain (besides death, taxes, and uncertainty):

God’s love: unlimited, unchanging, steadfast, and eternal (Psalm 36:5). It’s yours for the taking.

“For I am convinced,” wrote the apostle Paul, whose life was as uncertain as a ship tossed on stormy seas, “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37­–39).

God’s presence. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). (See also Hebrews 13:5.)

God’s provision. “Look at the birds of the air,” says Jesus, “they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26). He not only provides food, He also gives you rest (Psalm 23, Matthew 11:28), peace (John 14:27), and wisdom (James 1:5).

God’s sustaining grace. God didn’t remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). Instead He told the apostle His grace was all he needed. God may not remove your burden, but He will give His grace to sustain you through the valley.

Your future. No, not your future on earth, but your home in heaven. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

The mother-in-law of the woman diagnosed with ALS told her son to stress to the children not to allow fear of the future to rob them of joy with their mother today.

“In all these things,” writes the apostle Paul, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us” (Romans 8:37).

Yes, life can change in a heartbeat. But God – His steadfast love, unchanging grace, abiding presence, abundant provision ­–­ will never change.

Of that you can be certain.

What uncertainties are you facing?

Help me, O God, to keep my eyes fixed on You, not on the long, dark valley stretching before me. Remind me You will never leave me, never abandon me, never forsake me. That You are right here with me. Help me not to let fear rob me of joy, no matter what the circumstances. Amen.

Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 4:7–5:5

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Photo by Wilbur D. Huey. © 2016 Wilbur D. Huey. All rights reserved.

Puppies and Promises

 

A girl and her dog

If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. ­–Psalm 139:9–10 NKJV

My 37-year-old daughter Jaime loves dogs. Her heart especially goes out to shelter dogs—the ones who have had a rough start to life. That’s where she got Tess, her 14-year-old German Shepherd-Golden Lab mix, when Tess was two.

Due to her age, Tess has many health issues, and Jaime does her best to keep her as comfortable and healthy as possible under the circumstances. When the time comes for Tess to cross Rainbow Bridge, the void in the family’s hearts and home will send Jaime back to the shelter to adopt another puppy.

“Puppies,” Jaime said, “are my way of knowing that, no matter how bad things get, everything is going to be okay.”

A good quote to remember as we face a new year.

While we don’t know the specifics, we do know the New Year will bring both grief and joy, disappointment and hope, trials and triumphs.

Puppies, in Jaime’s eyes, are the promise of joy, hope, and triumph.

We, too, have promises we can count on to see us through the grief, disappointment, and trials the New Year holds—the promises in God’s Word. And since the Author is faithful, we know His Word can be trusted (2 Timothy 2:13).

We have the promise of His LOVE—unconditional, undeserved, unlimited. A love we can count on no matter how awful we’ve behaved or think we are, a love that reaches to the skies (Psalm 36:5). His arms are always open to receive us. All we have to do is come home to Him (Luke 15:11–32).

We have the promise of His GRACE—a grace that will see us through the tough times, unanswered prayers, and heavy burdens. We are never alone as we trudge through the deep, dark, endless valleys that are sure to come. “My grace is sufficient,” God tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” So when we are weak, He is strong. The weaker we become, the stronger He becomes.

We have the promise of His MERCY—forgiveness for the asking, and even when we don’t ask. A new start every day. Renewed hope. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21–23 RSV).

And those aren’t all. We have the promises of His protection (Psalm 3:3), His presence (Exodus 33:14, Hebrews 13:5), and His provision (Philippians 4:19).

That He hears and answers our prayers, whether or not we see the answers we want, no matter how long we have to wait (Psalm 50:15).

Puppies and promises. No matter how bad things may get, I know that things will be okay because my God holds me, my family, and my future—every day, every moment—in the palm of His hand. Indeed—we are engraved there! (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Thank You, Father, that whatever the New Year brings, I can face all things through the One who gives me strength—Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 139

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.