Beloved: Grace and Peace
Elkmont Baptist Church
Dearest and Beloved
Coping during Trials
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (One holiday season my family endured trials, and this article was written in smaller sections during that time.)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. It comes from nowhere else but Him.
My wife and I knew a minister who came to a church we once attended. It seemed apparent to all of us that God was using him in a great way. Several months after he came, he left to go back to the church he came from. We later heard that he had committed suicide.
What do you do when the enemy comes in like a flood? Do you run? Do you give up? Isaiah 59:16-19 tells us (bold added):
And he saw that
no man, and wondered that
therefore his arm brought salvation unto him: and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance
deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to
his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun.
clothing, and was clad
with zeal as a cloak. According to
When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the
Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
When the enemy comes in like a flood, look for the standard which the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up. The standard or banner is the place to rally or stand. Remember His name is Jehovah-Nissi (the LORD my banner) (Exodus 17:15). Remember: "The name of the LORD
a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
Remember: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me
love" (Song of Solomon 2:4).
With my wife's sickness and all that my family was going through, I was reminded of what I believe is my Dad and Mom's favorite Christmas memory. It occurred when I was ten years old and my brother was nine. Sometimes that fall, he came down with a serious illness. He was put into the hospital. Mom told us that my brother got so many shots that he finally pulled one of them out as they were giving it to him. Mom said they didn't give him as many shots after that. My youngest brother and I were enjoying not having to share all the cookies, fudge, and eggnog (more like boiled custard) Mom made for Christmas. Usually we split it three ways, but this Christmas we only had to split two ways. We didn't know how serious his illness was. We could see Mom and Dad were worried. My brother got to come home on Christmas Eve. I remember because I talked him into getting up and sneaking in to look at the presents under the Christmas tree. How he made it back I don't know, but I remember worrying that I wouldn't be able to get him back to bed.
That has always been Mom and Dad's most special Christmas memory. Perhaps mine will be this year when my wife is able to enjoy Christmas (written pre-Christmas). "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:59b). "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and
disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him
the help of his
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
On December 21, I took my wife to the emergency room. The triage nurse was an older woman who understood what she was going through. She bumped my wife's priority. She told her she would be praying for her.
My fellow pastor came to see us, and that was a blessing to me. The hospital admitted my wife. I stayed with her for two days because she needed constant attention. I fasted during that time and it was not hard. "Is it such a fast that I have chosen?" (Isaiah 58:5a) "to make your voice heard on high:" (Isaiah 58:4d). During this time, I asked the Lord if this was the way He was taking her home. He responded right away, "No." On Christmas Eve they performed a colonoscopy. A family friend brought me some lunch while I waited during the colonoscopy. Thank you, my friend. I asked the Lord to raise up praying men and women and children. I asked Him to let a good and godly friend know. He called the next day and recruited his church to pray.
On Christmas Day, I asked the Lord if the surgery the doctors spoke of would be necessary. He answered me immediately, "Yes." I called my co-pastor, and he let my church family know. The anesthesiologist told me that my wife was at risk at 4-4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5. However, she went through the surgery safely. The surgeon removed most of her colon, performed an ileostomy, and removed her gallbladder. He told me afterwards that they found her colon ulcerated and some stool had leaked into her inner cavity making other organs sick. Yes, the surgery was necessary.
Well, I never had a chance to worry or fret because of God's Word to me and because of the prayers of the saints. Thank you very much.
Our Lord tells us,
Because of God's grace, because of His Word, because of His people, my house didn't fall. My wife trusted the Lord through all this. My daughters rose up to do tasks beyond their years because of their mother's training and because of opportunities giving to them through the church. The winds have blown. The floods have come. The rain has fallen. The house has shook. But praise God it didn't fall.
We go to the Rock which is higher than we are. Build your lives upon the rock of God's Word and upon His sayings and be not deceived. "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only . . ." (James 1:22).
I could not heal my wife. I could not stop her pain. There were times I could not pray. I read God's Word to her and to me out loud letting it accomplish in us that which God sends it to do. By His Word we stood. By His Word do we stand. Build your lives upon His Word; the storms will come.
By January my wife was doing better. But I then succumbed to illness and was coughing and had a sore throat. So we missed prayer meeting. I had a fever and didn't want to pass it on. I spent Wednesday night coughing and trying to breathe and not being able to sleep. It is a struggle with discouragement when sleep won't come. With all that we've been through I am wondering if it will ever let up.
Sometime around 3 or 4 a.m. I could tell I had turned a corner and seemed to get to feeling better.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing
that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have
work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:2-4).
countenance" (Psalm 42:5, 42:11, 43:5).
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
- Matthew 7:24-27
- a series compilation