A few years ago, I found myself in a testing and trying season. Physically, it felt like my body was falling apart. I was seeing multiple health professionals, trying to find answers to unexplained pain. It was a difficult time and one that left me both spiritually exhausted and also spiritually dependent. It seems that the hardest times can also be the sweetest times in our walk with Jesus. Looking back on that season, I remember many, many moments when the Lord met me at just the right time to remind me that He was still there. I want to share one of those moments with you today.
In the midst of struggling with multiple health problems, a new one unexpectedly arose. I went for a female wellness checkup and after examining me, the doctor decided to send me for a follow up mammogram. I explained to the doctor that no breast cancer runs in my family. Also, I was young and had just finished nursing my third child. Surely, there was no reason to be concerned. She did not placate my fears, but instead said that breast cancer could happen to anyone and it was better to be safe than sorry.
With this proclamation, my anxiety rose dramatically. I thought that with all that the Lord had allowed me to suffer physically over the past year, He wouldn’t add breast cancer to the mix. Right?
I prayed. I talked to my husband. Still, doubt and fear were present.
Sometime that week I woke up in the middle of the night. This in and of itself was strange, because I hardly ever wake up in the night. Since I couldn’t sleep, I walked out to the living room and sat down by the window. Looking out, I saw what looked like a small fire burning in the woods behind our house. Without my glasses or contacts I couldn’t be sure, so I kept staring and squinting, telling myself that it made no sense for there to be a fire in the woods. What else could it be? I could come up with no explanations.
I got up, put on my contacts, and woke my husband. “I see something in the woods, and I think it’s a fire.” He came to the window and agreed that it did indeed look like a small fire.
We put on our shoes, left our boys sleeping peacefully in their beds, and hiked down into the woods to find out what was on fire. We soon reached the burning remains of a stump. My father-in-law, who lives next door, had cut down a huge tree and was burning out the insides of the remainder of the stump. It had continued burning through the night and was visible from our house.
There we stood, in the middle of the night, on a gravel path, in the midst of a forest, next to a burning stump. The fire was burning contentedly inside the rim of the old tree, looking like a happy little campfire. I turned to my husband and asked if he thought it was safe to leave it burning. He said that yes, it was safe, and we should leave it burning.
As we hiked back in the dark, I felt the Lord impress a word on my spirit. “There is a threat, but it is contained.” The fire could be a threat, but it was contained within the rim of the burned out stump. He had woken me up in the middle of the night, to hike out into the woods, to remind me that my threats were contained too. Yes, it seemed that my body was under threat, but he had the threats contained. I would be safe.
Sure enough, the mammogram turned out fine. My body continued to have pains and problems, but eventually I received a diagnosis of joint hypermobility and have found ways to manage and stabilize these joints so that the pain has diminished.
However, I know that in this world, there will always be threats: physical, emotional, financial, and social. The Lord didn’t promise safety without threats. That night in the woods, He assured me that there was a threat, but that He had it contained. In other words, He’s got it under control.
In this season of unrest and fear, this serves as a reminder to me of His faithfulness. There is nothing outside the boundary of His sovereignty. I hope it encourages you as well. He’s got it all under control.
Pause, Renew, Next: Take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly exhale. Think back over your own walk with Jesus. At what points have you found Him to be present and faithful in difficult seasons? If you’ve never journaled about these moments, take some time to write them down. Remembering His faithfulness is a wonderful way to fight fear and build faith during uncertain times.