What’s God Teaching You in Trials?

Early February, my cell phone dinged. My friend and mentor, Loretta, had sent a text.

On my way to the E.R. Seems like a stroke.” 

My breath caught. “Wait! What? Who?”

I re-read Loretta’s text and responded with a prayer. “Sweet Jesus, please heal my friend. Make your presence known while she’s at the hospital. Remove all fear.” 

Three hours later, Loretta texted back. “I’m okay. Weak left leg. No Fear! Not a Drop!

Loretta wasn’t okay.

She came home that evening, but the next morning Loretta returned to the hospital. Symptoms (weakness and slurred speech) were worse and pointed to a TIA (mini stroke) even though medical tests appeared normal. 

Six weeks later, Loretta’s life is far from normal.

Although her speech is good, she relies on a red-framed walker to get around. Simple household tasks aren’t so simple. Her steps are slow and measured when she moves about the kitchen so she doesn’t fall. 

I want to spare my fun-loving, independent friend from this misery. I want the Lord to heal her body and return life to normal. Now!

“It seems sometimes that there is no way to God’s Best but through pain, and yet how earnestly one longs to save a dear one from it.”

Missionary, Amy Carmichael

Loretta doesn’t pretend life is easy. Every day is a struggle. Even so, Loretta said:

“Could have been worse.” 

“I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness.”

“I’m at peace. Just have to walk it out.”

Walk it out means. . .

Live one day at a time

      Rely on the Lord (more than her new-fangled walker) to cope

            Learn to submit to God’s will and trust Him in the process.

Loretta’s God-centered attitude doesn’t surprise me. We’ve been here before. If you’ve read Lunch with Loretta: Discover the Power of a Mentoring Friendship, you know that my friend views life through an eternal lens.

“Every circumstance is an opportunity for God to teach and change me to become more like Jesus.”

 

This latest incident in Loretta’s life is no exception.

“I don’t want to go through this,” she said. “I pray for physical strength. But God is Sovereign and I know that He is able to use everything for my good and His glory.”

I asked my friend with the teachable heart, “What is God teaching you now?” 

She sighed. “It’s too soon to know. But I do want to learn.”

I wonder what God plans to teach her. How long will the lesson last? So far, it’s been an arduous one.

Or maybe, this recent incident is a test, examining the summation of everything Loretta has learned over a lifetime—and knows to be true—about her loving Sovereign God.  

Whatever God has planned for Loretta, tears come and I’m encouraged when I watch how she continues to praise and trust Him even in this . . . . 

*Do you ever ask God to teach and change you during personal trials?

*Consider sharing how God used one of your trials to teach you more about Himself. How did that knowledge change you?

Graphics: Jennifer Wrede

What Matters Most

Last Wednesday, I flew from California to North Carolina (via Houston) for a She Speaks Conference. I was in the air about six hours. My travel day from the time I left home and arrived to the hotel took twenty-seven hours.

Waiting in an airport terminal was not my first choice however, if you read my last blog, you know I wanted the Lord to teach me no matter the cost.

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Rather than focus on my circumstances and become disgruntled, I chose to surrender my desire to have what I want NOW!

Instead of trying to be patient, I chose to abide in the Lord and experience patience which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I cringe to say those words—I don’t want to sound self-righteous. But after years of striving to be a good Christian, I discovered the easier path is abiding in the Lord.

Abiding is how we become more like Christ….loving, compassionate, merciful, patient…which is God’s predestined will for those He has called.

The Holy Spirit does the work, but my poor attitude often slows the progress.

Only this time, I didn’t choose a one-woman pity party. Instead, I prayed for an eternal perspective while I traveled, and I asked to see people through God’s eyes.

He enlarged my vision.

I found myself drawn particularly to the people who served me at the airport and the hotel. Whether they were a maid, a busboy, a cashier, a waitress…..they each wore a name tag so I was able to call them by name. We’d smile, and exchange pleasantries.

Friendliness is contagious.

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Although my goal was to attend a conference to hone my writing and speaking skills, God taught me to do what matters most. Love one another.

My return flight home went without a glitch. Or so I thought. My traveling companion was on a different airline. Her flight was delayed by four hours.

My skin grew warm when I read my friend’s text. The thought of waiting in the airport terminal till three o’clock drained my last ounce of reserve. I’d been awake since 3:30 a.m. East Coast time, and had gone nonstop four days.

Was I going to wallow in self-pity or abide in Christ?

I sat down at a restaurant in the airport terminal—which began to feel like home—and asked the waitress,

“What’s your name? How long have you worked here?”

As I listened to Lynn’s story unfold, waiting on a flight seemed minuscule.

I’m thankful for the myriad of men and women I met last week, and the opportunity to show small acts of kindness.

God is so patient with me. And He can use everything—even waiting in an airport terminal—to teach me what matters most.