The secret faith-gift of hard times

It’s been one of those weeks, you know?

Because sometimes we carefully plan and orchestrate our lives with visions of perfection way outside the realm of reality. Sometimes we do that, right? Or is it just me?

Faith in hard times

On the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving, Nikolas (18) and I headed out for the airport to pick up Micah (19). He’s at a university in Texas getting all higher educated and we were thrilled to be getting to borrow him back for the holiday.

The trip was happily uneventful. We arrived home around midnight and slept hard till morning.

On Monday I got to work preparing way too many components for an early holiday meal with long-time friends. The day was busy but the evening was nice and the company was nicer.

Tuesday we had been invited to eat with another couple who always goes over the top in their hospitality. The meal was amazing, joy and humor filled the place and we all hated to leave.

But then Tuesday night something akin to the flu hit the college boy.

By Wednesday morning he could barely stand up as his entire body was wracked with pain, his head was pounding and a weight settled in his chest.

Clearly, I had forgotten to pencil such an illness into our perfect little holiday plans.

Because Wednesday was also the day we were to head to the airport with Nikolas; he was set to fly out Thanksgiving morning bound for the foreign mission field and the beautiful land of Nepal. I was cool as a cucumber about the whole thing until that morning.

Faith in hard times

But by the dawn of Thursday, as we were standing in line to get his baggage checked, the wisdom in having him travel across the world alone seemed to be severely lacking and I was feeling the pinch of that lack.

The boy was nervous. He’d never flown even once in his life and here he was, heading out on multiple flights, two of them landing him in international airports where he wouldn’t know the language, having to deal with customs and the task of securing a tourist visa.

I suddenly realized just how young 18 has become in the world we live in. He was totally unprepared for this. What had I been thinking to encourage such a thing?

We left him at security and tears clouded my walk back to the car. Everything in me wanted to go running into that airport and grab my brave but nervous boy and take him straight back home to safety. The feeling of panic was almost crushing but I knew the time had come to truly release my boy into God’s hands.

To trust that while a traveling companion would have made the trip a whole lot less stressful and possibly even safer, you can’t outrun the protective arm of God when you’re walking in His will.

I knew from the preceding weeks of prayer that this trip, gifted by sweet friends who gained nothing by offering him the experience, was definitely a part of a bigger plan.

A plan we still cannot see. A plan only time will reveal.

Thankfully we live in the age of text and I was able to communicate with him before and after each of his flights. Things went smoothly and he managed very nicely, by the grace of God.

Until he arrived in Kathmandu. Not that things stopped going smoothly, but communication ceased.

Meanwhile on the home front, Levi-one of our 6 year old twins-had pulled one of his now-typical stunts of turning a common cold into a potentially life-threatening situation.

Faith in hard times

At around 3 am Friday morning, about 2 hours before Nik was set to land in Nepal, my husband left to get Levi nearer to the hospital in case he needed more help than we could give.

We live on a mountain where there is no ambulance service. And it’s a LONG drive down when the situation is emergent.

Around 6am I was home with the other children, waiting to hear that Nik was safe and wanting to know that Levi was improving.

I got neither.

It turns out there is no internet in Kathmandu, aside from WiFi. And there was no WiFi at the airport. Which means there was no word from Nik.

I had been praying through his last flight that if extra angels were needed, God would provide them. I even prayed He’d make them visible to anyone who might intend my boy harm or any government officials who might impede the progress of my reluctant missionary.

I kept praying and thanking God for how He had led in the past, for how He had provided this opportunity, and how I knew He was leading even now when I couldn’t see it but could choose to trust in what I knew of Him.

Which gave my thoughts a minute to turn to Levi who was in need of the medical help he’d gone down to be near. They headed into the ER and within about two hours, he was being admitted.

Faith in hard times

There I sat, on the morning of my 41st birthday, with one child technically unaccounted for and another in the emergency room. I felt a sprig of irritation over my current circumstances.

I gathered the children and we formed a prayer circle. We prayed for Nik to have peace and no struggle securing his Visa or meeting up with his party. And we prayed for Levi to be protected from the germs of the hospital environment in flu season while securing the medical provision the staff could provide.

I felt at peace for the most part. A friend who specializes in giving me clarity, reminded me God was big enough to handle my “crisis”. But Satan definitely knows the best way to distract me is by threatening my kids. So that peace was something I had to keep fighting for.

I always used to think I was failing at it when I didn’t feel all peaceful in a trying situation. But I’m learning sometimes peace is just continually choosing to defy your feelings until God overrides them and convinces your heart He can be trusted.

Sometimes the process of seeking peace feels a whole lot like running a marathon at a sprint pace and then other times He just covers you in it.

But always, He provides it in exactly the way and timing it is needed.

Finally, about 4 hours after he landed, I finally heard from Nikolas. He was safe and had met up with the others and they were at the hospital where they would be working.

Selah. Pause and praise.

We took a minute to thank God for seeing him there safely and then got to packing. The children were going to a friend’s house and I was headed to the hospital.

Faith in hard times

A few hours later, the exchange of children had been made and I was in the room with my sick boy at last. And he looked awful. His coloring was a strange yellow/orange and he had no energy to speak of. He didn’t want to be in the hospital but he was being brave and cheerful.

And somehow his sweet spirit was too much for me. I felt overwhelmed by his near-constant suffering. Asthma is a formidable foe and it complicates the simplest things, like physical activity or the common cold.

And here he was with a type of viral pneumonia, meaning the treatment was a little less refined than an antibiotic.

Faith in hard times

I’ll admit I was tempted to cave to my fears. I was tired. It wasn’t how I planned to spend the week of Thanksgiving or my birthday. And I didn’t feel prepared for the roller coaster I already knew was ahead.

The pneumonia did not disappoint and neither did the asthma. They’d play nice for awhile and then suddenly he’d start to tank. His lungs were full, his O2 sats weren’t stable, and he just wasn’t rebounding like we had hoped.

Faith in hard times

Where we’d been convinced we’d be going home after one night, we quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.

But we have the most amazing support network. Friends and family texted and called. They kept our children, brought us food, made us rest, sent balloons, bought gifts. They stopped by to visit and to pray. They ordered a pulse oximeter and had it shipped to our house so we’d have one at home to monitor Levi when we got back.

They were, and are, and incredible army of support.

It’s 4am on Sunday as I write this from the bedside of my healing little boy. I feel God’s presence in this room. I’m watching the monitor and seeing the evidence that Levi is improving as he’s maintaining O2 levels on room air while he sleeps which is something he couldn’t do at all last night.

I’m praying for the nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists who’ve been so good to us and so tender with Levi. I’m praying for the baby across the hall who is in isolation and who we can hear coughing and crying. I’m praying for her parents. And I’m thanking God for using this situation to grow me. To strengthen me because I am still SO weak. I’m thanking Him for how far we’ve come and trusting Him to get us where He’s calling us to be.

Because nothing grows your faith quite like walking through a fiery trial where you’ve got nothing but your faith to cling to. Suddenly God feels very real and very, very near.

I’m thankful for the hospital room which has helped me realize that. And for the boy in Nepal who has helped me learn to relinquish just a little more control.

God is merciful and abundantly kind. But I know the lessons of today are to prepare me for the struggles of tomorrow. So I’m buckling up and securing myself in His word.

Because no matter what is ahead, I WILL stand faithful and I’ll help my family do the same.

—————

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