“Your mother-in-law has terminal brain cancer.”
“Uncle Ted died.”
“Your father-in-law had a heart attack.”
“Honey, I got in a wreck. I’m ok, but the car doesn’t look so good.”
These are all things that have been said to me in the last year and a half or so. Each time I heard these life-altering phrases, anxiety welled within me. I felt panicked. Overwhelmed. Beside myself.
When news came of my mother-in-law, I wondered if it could really be true. Just the day before, we went on a picnic. She seemed fine, if a bit tired …
When Uncle Ted died in his chair as he dozed off to take an afternoon nap in the warm sunshine, I was shocked, despite the fact that he was 80-something …
When my father-in-law had a heart attack, again, I was shocked. He had always been so strong …
And the car. Oh, that stupid car! I was convinced we had purchased a car previously owned by a witch who put a curse on it! Between this wreck, the wreck last year, and the wrecks my girls had been in, the men at the auto body shop knew me by name …
Call it life. Call it trials. Whatever it is, not a single soul is exempt. We all go through bad stuff here on earth. It’s not really a matter of if it will happen, but when. What kind of trial it will be isn’t so important. What’s important is what we do with the trial.
As Chuck Swindoll says:
“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”
One of my biggest desires is to get to a place in my life where I no longer feel anxious and uprooted when bad news comes knocking at my door or calling on my telephone. I want to be assured and peaceful come what may. Storms, trials, bad news, sickness, health, success, defeat … all of it. I want the “peace that passes all understanding” that God so freely offers.
Close to where I grew up, there’s a tree nestled beside a long, country road. It stands alone, next to a canal so large it might as well be a river. The roots of the tree are enormous, and if you stand beneath the limbs, you feel as though you’re a part of something bigger. Something stronger. Something that literally cannot be moved … come what may.
Being strong isn’t something I’m familiar with. Cardiac problems as a kid and digestive diseases later in life have always made me small and weak. And while I know I would thoroughly enjoy being robust and energetic, it won’t likely happen this side of Heaven.
Likewise, my sin has made me spiritually sick. The difference is that spiritually, I can be strong.
Strong, because of His forgiveness.
Strong, because I’ve hidden His Word in my heart.
Strong, because I humbly bow before Him in prayer. Purposely repentant, thankful, and reliant on Him for power.
No phone call in the world has the power to dig me up by my roots if I am well grounded in Him. Bad news, chronic illness, sudden deaths, and more can swirl about my limbs, causing them to sway in the storm. It’s not that I will be completely unaffected. But my core being will remain firmly planted and immovable.
Not because of my own strength.
But because I have purposely drawn strength and nourishment from the river.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. ~Psalm 1:2-3
-Brenda R. Coats