WHEN ALL YOU HAVE LEFT IS GOD

The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her

Over the years, Sandy ministered to many people.  She was a nurturer and she mothered people and pointed them to Christ.  An outgrowth of her job was helping to take care of the employees from Central America.  Sandy had a big heart.  One time she took on the local justice system when one of the workers wound up in jail.  If Sandy thought something was wrong, she would go to great lengths to make things right; she was a tigress. 

THE SHOCK

It was quite a shock when what Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The doctor at first thought it was just an infection, but after an unsuccessful course of meds further testing was done and she was given the diagnosis of cancer.  Sandy had a mastectomy and then started the dreaded chemotherapy.  She would have a course of chemo, get quite ill, start to feel better and then have to go for more chemo.  The chemo was followed by radiation. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL THERE IS LEFT, IS GOD?

During the course of these therapies, Sandy’s lovely red hair fell out and her skin developed nasty painful rashes.  She had always been strong physically and now found herself imprisoned in a sick and alien body. Through the relentless progress of the disease, Sandy endured.  That final summer of her illness we discussed the question: “What happens when all there is left, is God?”

JEREMIAH IN THE PIT

Have you ever thought about Jeremiah of the Bible?  The dumped him in a slimy stinking mud of a cistern.  It had not been a winner season for him.  A look at Jeremiah 38 bears witness to a most disheartening progression of events.  As a preacher, Jeremiah faced a audience that didn’t pay any attention to his message.  God turned up the heat on Israel with an invasion by the Babylonians. Falsely accused of being a turncoat, Jeremiah was beaten and imprisoned in a dungeon for a lengthy period. Then came the terrible cistern.  The narrative tells us that he was so mired in the mud. When finally released it took thirty men pulling on ropes to lift Jeremiah out of the mud’s suction.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL THE LIGHT IS GONE?

What did Jeremiah find in that dark cistern?  Stuck and in the dark, all he heard was the dripping of water. All light fades.  During her final weeks of life, Sandy found her sight deteriorating because the cancer had spread to her brain.  The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her and the only place of safety was in the arms of the Savior. 

WHO IS WITH US

Psalm 46 paints a picture of a world in which the mountains are quaking, the seas are surging, and the earth is giving way.  Everything depended on in the past falls away.  Yet, verse seven says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  It is one thing to consider God as with us and quite another to consider God as actually being our fortress. 

GOD IS ENOUGH

In that dark cistern, what did Jeremiah find ?  What did Sandy discover when her eyes lost sight?  Stability has flown the coop.  All constants disappear. One thing remains: God. In that moment, God is enough.  Ask God to open your eyes to His fortress of love.

MY WAR STORY

The rubber was about to meet the road, so to speak. No more “weekend warriors”, as the National Guard were often referred to. This was the real thing. We were advised to get our financial and legal matters in order.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990. I was seven months pregnant with my first child. My husband was serving in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at the time, so news such as that was more than just a front-page headline; it was cause to take notice. As the crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the question was not if my husband Mike would be activated to serve, but rather, when.

UNCERTAINTY LOOMING OVER US

The last months of my pregnancy were overshadowed by the uncertainty looming over us. The rubber was about to meet the road, so to speak. No more “weekend warriors”, as the National Guard were often referred to. This was the real thing. We were advised to get our financial and legal matters in order. I was barely holding it together. Praying that the situation would get resolved quickly; knowing that it was not as simple as that. I turned to God, knowing that I could not do this on my own. I did not have enough strength to get through it.

TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE

This was a turning point in my life, and in my faith in God and His provision. I leaned into God like never before, asking Him to give me the strength that I needed. With a great deal of hope and more than a little anxiety, I tried to keep my focus on managing one day at a time. As I did, I began to see God work.

I PRAYED

In the early months of the crisis, they called other military units. Mike’s unit didn’t receive the call. Home for the birth of our son in October, Mike was called to service late November. His preparation for deployment took place at Ft. Indiantown Gap, so he came home on the weekends leading up to his departure. We were blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas together. Shortly after New Year’s Day, Mike left for the Middle East. I prayed with confidence God would take care of him and all involved.

STRENGTH I DIDN’T KNOW WAS POSSIBLE

I knew that God had it all under control. God carried us through this, even though I couldn’t see the future. In ways I never experienced before, I saw God’s faithfulness and care for me. I developed a strength I didn’t believe was possible. God gifted me with visits, phone calls and offers of help from family, friends and neighbors. Admitted to the hospital for gall bladder surgery in April, God worked out everything for me and our newborn. My mom moved in and took care of the two of us. Through the times of loneliness and fear, I felt deeply loved and cared for.

HIS FAITHFULNESS IS A SHIELD

In the book of 2 Samuel, we read David’s story. Thought greatly blessed by God, David fell into grievous sin. Confessing those sins, David didn’t take God’s forgiveness lightly. Even as he experienced the consequences of his sin, David never lost his belief in God’s love and faithfulness. 2 Samuel 22, David writes, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior…. And in Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

YOU NEVER HAVE TO DEAL WITH LIFE ALONE

God is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is working on your behalf in every situation you face. You never have to deal with anything in this life alone. God will be with you, always. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)