Years ago I came to know a wonderful woman named Verna Birkey, who became an adopted mother to many of us at our church. She was funny, intelligent and didn’t hesitate to let you know if you were heading in the wrong direction!
One day she gave me a copy of her book God’s Promises of Peace, which I still have sitting on my credenza. On p. 20 of that book, she quotes L.A. Bennett:
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee, Trust Him when thy strength is small, Trust Him when to simply trust Him, Seems the hardest thing of all.
It’s really hard to keep trusting when we see people we love struggle, isn’t it? I can’t even tell you how many sweet friends have battled with cancer in the past few years. Some of them made it through all the treatments and were given a clean bill of health, but others have been called home to their Heavenly Father’s waiting arms.
How does God decide who to heal and who not to? Well it’s not for us to know – that’s one of the many mysteries of our God (Jeremiah 10:23). He has a special plan for all of us (Jeremiah 29:11) – we just must trust Him.
One lady that just amazes me – and that I have such respect for – is Joni Eareckson Tada. She was a typical teenager when she went swimming with friends one day and ended up paralyzed. Yet she doesn’t hide away in the safety zone of her home (which I probably would be tempted to do), but she’s out there in public proclaiming Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons I have such high regard for her is because of our son, Jeffrey.
Most of you know that Jeffrey was born premature, and has a diagnosis of quadriplegic cerebral palsy (What’s Going On In The Upper Story?). He’s full time in a wheelchair, like Joni.
A few years back, Jeffrey was visiting us at Christmas. We went to church on Sunday, and after the sermon he cranked on his wheelchair and headed up to the altar to ask for prayer.
Jeffrey had been struggling with issues that he had not shared with Gary nor myself. We had been noticing the past couple of years that he had changed, becoming kind of despondent. He ended up having to leave college after his junior year, and had to move out of the home where he was living because of his attitude.
I was delighted to see him go up front for prayer.
I was even more thrilled when I saw there were three different ladies gathered around him to pray for him – all of whom I knew. “Thank You, Lord!”
Jeffrey was up there for quite awhile. Then two of the gals left, but Jeffrey remained speaking to the other one for a couple more minutes.
After Jeffrey came and rejoined us in the back of the sanctuary, of course he didn’t want to discuss his conversation, so I tried to be patient. God knew what was going on.
After some time had passed, the friend who had remained talking and praying with Jeffrey until the end said she felt she needed to share with me what they had talked about. She said that Jeffrey had been struggling with his manhood. Here he was in his early 20’s, and still had to have someone help him with basically everything.
My friend said as they were praying and talking that morning, she felt strongly that the Lord wanted her to tell Jeffrey that he needed to let those feelings go, because him needing constant care in no way took anything away from him being a man.
My heart broke. Yes, that would be so hard! And I thought again of sweet Joni, as well. How it must be so difficult to have someone help you with almost every single thing, every single day.
It’s hard for us to understand, isn’t it? Yet that’s why we must keep our eyes and our trust in our God (Psalm 42:5) no matter what, as His infinite wisdom is much bigger than our puny little minds can comprehend.