It’s late fall, 1965. My mother Elinor is standing at the kitchen stove, preparing dinner. Her persistent cough is not getting any better. She voices how poorly she’s been feeling. Concerned that whatever she has is contagious, mom takes many precautions to ensure that dad and I stay well. Around January mom receives her diagnosis of moderately-advanced tuberculosis. Back in the 1960’s admission to a sanitarium was mandatory until the disease was in remission. Isolated from family with no guarantee she would get better, mom literally had to put her life in God’s hands. If she was worried and afraid, mom never let it show. After more than 5 months of treatment, mom was able to return home.
Worry, fear, anxiety, abandonment, and loss of identity all are aftereffects of and very human responses to our ministry downsizing or career loss. It is difficult for us to come to grips with what lies ahead because we can’t visualize a solution to the problem and our finite reason fails us. Writer Anne Lamott wryly pinpoints the source of our dilemma: “The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t think He’s you.” Looking for help on our own terms only perpetuates our quandary and distances us from God, hindering His intervention as well as our transformation and growth.
During such trying times, we must be intentional in our will-ingness to affirm the promises of God’s Word rather than riding an emotional roller coaster. The writer of Hebrews eloquently expresses this thought: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).” God’ grace is sufficient for us, and in our weakness His power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). May we declare with Gospel singer/songwriter Kirk Franklin:
“With Jesus I can take it,
With Him I know I can stand.
No matter what may come my way,
My life is in Your hands.”