By Pamela Glover on @deenamadams
This week’s story of hope is from a writer friend I met at a novelist retreat in October 2019. If you’ve ever experienced a health crisis, or any type of disappointment, you can relate to her pain. Our prayer is that you’ll be encouraged to trust God even when life doesn’t make sense.
In our early fifties, my husband and I moved from congested Denver, Colorado to the countryside of North Carolina. We bought a small farmhouse and remodeled it into a charming cottage. I planned, planted, and nurtured flower gardens, fruits, and vegetables.
I joined a book club with fellow teachers and soon had a solid group of friends. Through our church, we engaged with immigrants in the community.
I never planned to leave.
Seventeen years later, in 2016, we faced double crises. Doctors diagnosed my husband with late stage kidney cancer. Simultaneously, I suffered from an undiagnosed malady that prevented me from standing, gardening, or driving.
We couldn’t care for our property, and barely for ourselves.
With an uncertain future, we decided to put the house up for sale and see how God worked. Within three months, Bill had surgery, we sold the house, packed, and headed back to Colorado.
It all happened too fast.
Although our health stabilized, we faced financial strain. Shocked over the cost-of-living differences between rural North Carolina and urban Denver, we were forced into a retirement community. I’d given up a home I loved for a small, sunless apartment. I couldn’t garden or gaze at the stars.
In earlier crises, God had shown me special passages from the Bible which comforted me and gave me peace. During this period, I prayed and studied but experienced neither His presence nor His grace. Reading the Bible seemed a futile activity. Paul’s lofty promises seemed to mock me; I was powerless to rejoice in trials.
Would I ever hear God speak to me again?
I turned instead to contemporary Christian writers.
I’d been telling myself I would never be happy again, strong again, my life would never be purposeful, I would never escape from the emotional cave which trapped me. John Piper, in Future Grace, identified those as some of Satan’s lies.
If those were lies, what was the truth?
I listed the attributes He used to describe Himself and categorized His actions. Although I failed to understand what He might be doing in my life, I resolved to trust that He was truthful, saw my misery, and was compassionate.
Of course, I found comfort as well. Isaiah 61 encouraged me that God would anoint His servant to bring good news to me, to bind up my broken heart, to comfort my mourning, and to replace it with gladness. (Isaiah 61:1-3 NASB)
Our circumstances improved.
We found a church of fervent young believers who welcomed us and ministered to us. The second year, Bill’s health screen showed the cancer had not spread. God provided a group of musicians that joined me regularly to play traditional music. I helped start a book club. And we happily cared for our surprise sixth grandchild.
Still, my emotions frequently descended into misery.
From Psalm 13 I learned that our troubled thoughts and sorrow may persist. I would have to fight for joy by choosing to “trust in your faithful love; rejoice in your deliverance … sing to the Lord because he has treated me generously.” (Psalms 13:5-6 CSB)
I made a list of instances of His mercy and added relevant scriptures. I prayed over the promises and evidence and preached to myself.
The despondency is fleeting now but, three and half years after the move, I still pine for North Carolina.
Two recent incidents helped me purpose to eliminate grumbling.
A missionary’s blog described how difficult it had been for her to transition from rural Kentucky to a megacity in Asia. She explained the truths God showed her to accept her place of service. I adopted her prayer list in order to let go of the home and lifestyle to which I felt entitled.
Months later, I attended a missions conference for our denomination. In a small group, I met the missionary whose blog had ministered to me. It stunned me that out of thousands of missionaries serving overseas, and four hundred people at the conference, God brought us together.
A Sunday sermon convicted me that comparing my new situation to my former life led to grumbling. And complaints led to bitterness.
Based on how well we’ve recovered, I’m still not convinced we didn’t make a mistake moving so quickly. But, even if we did, God knew what was coming. And He knows what’s still to come.
Someday I will understand why Denver is better for us.
What I feel, and what I don’t understand now, is not the last word.
About the author: Pam Glover writes an occasional opinion blog (synapsesongs.blogspot.com) about everything except sports. Her articles have been published in local and national periodicals. She’s pleased to have devotions published online, hosted by other writers.
Her other passions include six grandchildren and playing fiddle with a group of other amateur senior musicians.
Her goals for 2020: Re-write at least two of her shelved novels and find an agent. Learn how to successfully garden in pots, now that she lives in a condo.
Join the conversation. Have you ever made an unexpected move you didn’t want to make? What about a health crisis that left you reeling? How did God help you accept the changes in your life?