“In everything [even the storms, italics mine] you are enriched by Him.” I Corinthians 1:5
Are you weary tender heart?
Be glad of pain.
In sorrow sweetest virtues grow, as flowers in rain.
God watches, and you will have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.
___Lucy Larcom, Streams in the Desert
Nearly a year ago now the clouds began to descend. There had been a few squalls, but nothing like this. The dark, destructive storm cloud spread over us and relentlessly rained down the unexpected and undesired. For the past ten months or so now there has been one hardship, one difficulty, one blow after another. It has tried its best to beat us down in its destructive wake. But even the rumblings and thunderings have been a comfort; even the fierce winds are soothing; even the sharp lightnings have spoken peace to our hearts...because we are sheltered. We are safe in the care of our God. That assurance has not lessened the impact of the sudden and unexpected set of circumstances we found ourselves in, and not due to any choice of our own. But then things often happen that are beyond our control, especially as it relates to the choices of others that directly affect us, and that sting is an especially nasty one.
I remember talking on occasion with my Dad (I call him Diddy) when something would happen...an engine would blow in a car, someone lost a job, someone has cancer and he would calmly say, “Sug (pronounced shug, short for sugar!), it’s just one of those things.” He wasn’t being nonchalant or unfeeling. He was just saying in few words that life happens. There are some things that just come with living this life and we’re better off to embrace it for what it is and trust God through it rather than resist it or resent it or try to control it in someway.
That dark cloud? We lost over half our income in a very unexpected, cutthroat manner. Just like that, ten years callously thrown in our face. But oh we have seen the hand of God at work in it all, protecting, providing, guiding, sustaining, directing. Just like Joseph of old in the Scripture we can say, “You meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). And there has been a lot of good, glimmers of His light in the dark cloud, reassuring us of His presence. One of those is the fact that my mother-in-law is still with us. Since December we have been to doctor’s, specialists visits, tests, hospital ER’s, only to have an ulcer finally perforate leaving her septic. A four-week hospital stay, another four-week nursing home stay followed. She’s 82. I could not leave her alone in a hospital, traumatized over an hour away. Roger came practically every day. She is home now, but still having therapy 2-3 times a week. Daily care for her and oversight of her medications, continued doctor’s visits is ongoing.
We’ve also been able to see a family business come to fruition during this time. My son has been praying for some time and sensed the time was right to take the plunge and take oversight of Top Knot Coffee and Artisan Shop. It’s alpaca themed, an expansion of the farm (that some might think we would have lost by now, and we’re very aware of that very real possibility as the storm continues; but so far God has chosen otherwise and we are grateful and humbled). But even in all the excitement and the demands of getting the shop up and going, Dan and Steph lost their 7th child. Yet another completely unexpected heartbreak. Asher Lee was birthed stillborn April 24th. We have grieved and cried, and seen God give great grace and comfort to keep us moving forward even in the heartbreak.
Ever tried to wait out a storm only to feel like it’s never going to end? Well, not done yet! On the farm there has been one equipment failure after another with limited to no funds for repairs, leaving my husband heavy with the weight of seeing our beautiful farm somewhat a mess. But even in this, the raw beauty shines through. Yes, there are parts that are not neatly landscaped. The flower beds are a bit overgrown, but the animals are healthy, the pastures are green, and a garden is growing.
Financially our resources have dwindled, especially with the start up of the Coffee shop...but it IS started, and with no debt. Dan left a stable income to be the proprietor, and why not? Three incomes down? All the more opportunity for God to show Himself very real, and very involved in our lives. If we fail, it won’t be because we didn’t try or because God is not faithful. It will be because His plans for us involve something different that He has not chosen to show us...just yet! One of the key thoughts for us in all of this that has helped us keep our eyes on Christ and off of ourselves (pity parties are such a waste!) is, that this is not about us. It really isn’t. We’re involved, yes. We’re staying in His Word, praying, attempting to honor Christ in our situation and we know He will care for us. This is about what He chooses for us at any given time, and believe me, I am constantly throwing myself at His feet and leaning hard on His promises, allowing His great grace to wash over me. If not , the flesh takes over way too often and the emotions get all out of control….and God is limited.
We’re not sure where it’s all going, where we will end up, how it will all turn out. What we do know is that the storm will end. We belong to Christ and we can trust Him. That’s not a flippant acceptance of something I can’t change, or a “Christian cliche or platitude” (I hate those). That is a reality that changes me and keeps me tender, and allows God to continue to work. It releases the power of Christ to accomplish His plan and purpose in my storm. And let me say this….this is “my storm”. I do not get involved in the business of comparing storms. Oh there are so many hurting people out there. I can see people reeling from the devastation a dark storm cloud has left. People I love, and even people I don’t know, dealing with death and loss, crushed relationships, poverty, sickness, and the babies...the babies I have prayed for lately that are suffering from complications at birth; the parents making heart-wrenching decisions. But I trust them to Christ also. I offer compassion, not judgment. Help, not those useless platitudes, which means sometimes, nothing is the best thing to say. Just pray and be available. They don’t even have to know you are doing it!
When the storms come, and they will, lean hard on Jesus. He is faithful. He is strong. He is sweet and ever so tender as a loving forever friend is. He’s not necessarily keeping all the bad from happening--no, a friend can’t do that. But He is close, breathing His precious promises into my soul, keeping hope alive.
God watches, and you will see the sun!
Some Bible passages that I have held onto lately:
“Let us your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us His approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!” Psalm 90: 16-17
“And now Lord, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. May it be a promise that will last forever. And may your name be established and honored forever.” I Chronicles 17: 23-24
“We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalm 33: 20-22