MaryBeth Eberhard ponders how faith and friendship are carrying her through a sudden medical challenge.
I recently received some challenging medical news that brought me to my knees. As I cried out in worry and wonder, I mentally began to plan how this next part of our journey would look. As is typical for me, a million thoughts bounced around as to how to prepare and control each moment; to keep everything normal. I’m so grateful for the voice of the Lord that speaks directly to my heart. I felt the pause He placed there in that moment, His voice reaching the depth of my thoughts. Why am I always trying to keep things normal? Is normal where I grow? Is it where I am open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
Challenges in life are rich opportunities to become more the person God is calling us to be. We can look in the mirror and see who we want to be but without the surrender to God’s will and the embrace of the cross, we can never become who He created us to be. Many of us are fortunate to have the hindsight to look back and see how we have become the woman or man of strength and faith we wanted to be. We remember those valleys as formative moments and, at times, we even miss them because of our reliance on Christ in those times. I am entering one of those times and it is the oddest, most Christian thing to say, but I am excited. As I humbly recognize my inability to control this new situation, I release the worry and breath in the grace to step forward in trust. I begin to see each encounter as a moment of God working within me.
When this journey began, while nervous and apprehensive about the future, I was in for this next part of my journey with the Lord. I knew I would come out shining brighter, more radiant in my faith than when I began. My relationship with the Lord would become tighter and His presence in my life would be magnified. I will admit to my humanity being stronger as six weeks in I sat with the Lord asking for this cup to pass me by.
In the candlelit room of my vigil, I sat with the Lord and asked him if we were there yet. I told him I was done. Like a child, who lacks the vision to see the joy coming when they arrive after a long trip, I sat with the Lord and he answered me, “My child,” He said quietly to my heart, “We haven’t even finished loading the car.” I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. But He sat with me and His presence quieted my heart.
When we use the word journey, it usually involves some type of adventure. It speaks to sacrifice and growth. The reward being the view at the end. An epic journey typically also involves friendship; a hero’s quest if you will, with lessons abounding. I am choosing to view this next part as a hero’s quest. There will be trials, celebrations, mountains, valleys, and a few hobbits along the way. I have loyal, deep friends who are walking beside my family and me.
Like Moses, whose arms were held up for the battle by Aaron and Hur, these friends are willing to go to great means walking with me on this path. They are making it an adventure filled with deep love, abiding faith and laughter that rings from the depths of our souls. With them, I feel the Lord’s presence beside me. I am reminded that while we are still packing the car for this journey, the car is loaded with all we will need. There will be prayer. All will be fed. There will be time for great talks together and time for silence to ponder. Laughter will come in and fill the void when the air gets heavy and through it all I will be upheld and God will be glorified.
Christian suffering is like a black and white painting that with each conversation, every prayer, every encounter where God is made welcome and visible fills and shades the painting with vibrant color. Our eyes are lifted in wonder at the transformation made only visible through embracing our cross, opening our hearts and walking forward with trust where the Lord is asking us to go.
Copyright 2021 MaryBeth Eberhard
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About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. Read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.