The trees are slowly budding, the flowers slowly blooming, the songbirds are returning and the world is awakening. It is a time of renewal after a long period of darkness and cold. There are signs of new life all around us, lifting our spirits and reminding us that He fulfills His promises and renews the earth each year. And softly in the background instead of a breeze, there’s the whisper of a hymn whose truth infiltrates every part of me and my family’s story of renewal.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!”
It doesn’t just feel like life is returning after a short season of winter, but rather that life and light is being renewed after a long year of deep distress. A year of believing without seeing, hoping when all hope seemed gone, clinging to a hand that at times felt galaxies away, and waiting and waiting for the dawn that was slow to appear in the morning sky. Then, just as one distress began to dissipate a bigger one loomed on the horizon and slowly engulfed our world. The lessons of the first heartache and struggle were soon to be tested and tried in an even greater trial while all of hell endeavored to shake us to our core. Yet, in the midst, when all else seemed dark and dim, His promises shown through and pierced the darkness with light. He never, no, never, no, never forsook us! He held us all by His mighty right hand. He was strong, He was loving, He was omnipotent, He was sovereign, and into the light of spring I emerged a year later, changed, softened, renewed and sanctified by my “deepest distresses”.
It was one year ago that we first received the call that our daughter was facing a battle that would embroil our lives and change us forever. As we walked through those dark days and weeks with her, crying to God when all hope seemed lost, He held us tightly. And when we thought there was progress only to see the progress eaten away by the darkness again, He held us tightly. And when the battle started to finally lift and we could once again breath, He held us even tighter still, lest our hope be in circumstances and not in Him.
But, suddenly, just as she began to find freedom and healing, another trial descended on us in the form of cancer. Unexpected, unwanted, it flattened our plans and put into doubt my very life. Again, He held us all tightly and affirmed His promises to us. He “Strengthened and helped us and caused us to stand…. upheld by His righteous omnipotent hand.” He would not leave, He would not forsake, He would heal and He would sustain. The months of chemotherapy took every bit of human strength from me and caused me to doubt and fear as I never had before, yet through it all, HE HELD ME TIGHTLY! And through the distress and despair, He brought healing and sanctification. There was no wasted time, no wasted tears, all of it He used. The Psalm He gave me from the beginning continues with me to this day and I continue to cling to it!
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high; because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:14-16
It’s as though I am emerging like the earth from the darkness of winter into the springtime sunshine. There’s a peace and rest in my soul that wasn’t there before. It isn’t a result of the lifting of the trials but from the light within that He has formed in me through the past year; a stronger sense of His presence and a rest in His sovereign strong Hand.
So, I unfold like the leaves on the trees, a little brighter, a little lighter, a little softer, a little balder (can’t do much about that yet) but with a new outlook and a stronger faith than ever before. Springtime, we WELCOME you!