Sunday, May 6, 2012

Trusting in the Dark Times

"Save me, O God,
For the waters have threatened my life.
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me."
Psalm 69: 1--2, NASB

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with trouble? Have you ever felt the darkness of despair closing in around you? Recently I have.

In the last 12 months my family and I have been through one tumultuous crisis after another. Every door of opportunity seemed to close and one major crisis after another has befallen us. This time a year ago my brother lay dying from a rare and untreatable disease. It was the most powerless feeling in the world. After he passed, work and the hectic nature of life prevented me from being able to grieve and move forward. For months I felt like I was in a mental fog. Just as I began to pull out of that, one of my children became seriously ill. After seeing many different kinds of doctors we began to see improvement but still had no diagnosis. Then this same child developed pneumonia. That's when the darkness really closed in. She and her mother were awaiting ambulance transport to a dedicated children's medical facility and I was driving ahead of them with packed bags. Alone in my car, the darkness began to close in. I had seen the x-ray of her chest. I had seen the blood oxygen count. This was not good. And this child was supposed to have been baptized on that very day. Would I lose her? I fought back against that darkness and poured my heart out to God for mercy for my child. Thankfully, she's home from the hospital and recovering. But still we face the same issues we faced before she developed pneumonia. There are still tests to be done and answers to be sought.

And still the darkness lingers. Always it is just there, hovering around the edges of my psyche, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. I feel like a man drowning, sunk in deep waters, with no place to get a footing. Every where I turn seems to be the wrong direction. But I have this promise: "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8: 28). And I see the bright rays of his providence, even in my trials. In the midst of all of this my child came to faith in Christ. In the midst of her physical pain as she recovers, she hopes that her brother and one of her dear friends will come to faith in Christ in time to be baptized with her when she recovers. These are bright rays of God's grace in the midst of the darkness. So in all this I am reminded of the word of God that came by Isaiah:

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the LORD  your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isa. 43: 2--3a, NASB).

In remembering these precious promises I know that God will deliver me and my family from all these trials. The hardships are proving grounds, and the reward will be worth all the struggle because the battles, like our very lives, are sanctified by his grace.

"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made the heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121: 1--4 NASB).