Monday, November 17, 2008

When your rope doesn't come...

Some of you may remember my post about the Cistern (http://livininaboysworld.blogspot.com/2008/07/cistern.html) a few months back...
It was about the prophet, Jeremiah, being thrown into a muddy cistern and sinking into the mud. I talked about how some of our trials are like being thrown into a cistern and sinking into the mud with no way out. That is how I have felt with my health for 3 1/2 years. Some good guys in the story rescue Jeremiah by throwing a rope down and pulling him out. I have wondered since I read that if Jeremiah was praying in that muddy cistern and if it was his prayers which initiated the rescue crew.
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(If you are new to my blog and have no idea what I am talking about, you can click http://livininaboysworld.blogspot.com/2008/08/learning.html)
to read the short story.)
Since coming off my antibiotics, my symptoms are coming back. My knees hurt so bad over the weekend it was hard to stand up after sitting. The headache was excruciating and the fear overwhelming. A few days ago, I made another trip to NY to see the doctor. I flew there in back in the same day and it was a LONG day. I left at 5am and got home at 1am. I was tired physically but even more tired spiritually. Here I am stuck in this same cistern that I have been sinking in for so long. No rope to pull me out. Just mud.
I have seen many friends come and go as their ropes are lowered and they are pulled out of their suffering. That is hard. I am happy for them that their trial is over and I REALLY enjoyed the fellowship while they were there... but it is still hard to see them go. I think some of you know what I am talking about. So what do I do since my rope hasn't come? How do I respond as I continue to wait on God's timing?
I wasn't going to blog about this but felt lead to because I am determined God will receive glory from my muddy cistern. I also hope it is an encouragement to you who are facing chronic trials with no light at the end of the tunnel. KEEP PRAYING. You don't know what is happening outside of your cistern. Also look all around you in the mud. There are treasures and riches that He wants to give to you in abundance while you wait.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name".
Isaiah 45:3
I want to share a story with you...
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Last night, I was at our Church. They were having a prayer service. Tim was there but he had to study (for his really cool class at Church that he is taking to learn how to study the Bible in-depth). I was kind of nervous to go in without him because our Church is big and I didn't know anyone. I walked in the sanctuary and saw a precious old woman sitting in the back by herself. She had a walker and was obviously in the last years of life. I sat beside her and she smiled at me. We were asked to pair up and pray for specific needs in the Church. I scooted closer to her and held her hand. Her hand was very wrinkled with many age spots. She prayed loud because I don't think she could hear well. Her prayers were beautiful. Very simple yet full of love and faith for her heavenly Father. I was honored to be praying with her.
After the service, she asked me about my family and I asked her about hers. She told me that her husband died when her 4 children were very young. That she had raised 3 girls and a boy all alone. Her son later died in a car accident when he was 26. She obviously knew suffering in a way I hope I never do. She asked me if she could sew a fabric Bible cover for my Bible. We hugged and then said goodbye.
I have thought about her so much since last night. I have so much respect and admiration for her. She is finishing well. I thought of how much I want to be like her. That no matter what happens in this life, my faith remains solid. That my love for the Lord is not dependant on circumstances. That no matter what tragedies this world may bring, I will continue to serve the One Who has given me life. That my eyes would stay on eternal things and His Word. That there would be rest and joy in simply knowing Jesus and being loved by Him...
in times of blessing and trial.
I hope if I am in her shoes (alone in my last years), that I will be at Church praying with wrinkled and aged spotted hands. That I will still pray no matter the disappointments I have experienced. That I will faithfully love and trust my Redeemer, Jesus, until my last breath.
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So, how am I doing with the disappointment of my trial continuing? Honestly? Sad, tired of this, discouraged. BUT, I cannot stop thinking about the verse in Job that says..."though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him."
One of my best friends called me today and spoke words that were like a healing balm to me as she described how God allows hardship for our growth, for His glory, for future ministries, for fruit ( that, apart from the trial, would be impossible), how He is at work in me in a specific way. That even though a physical healing hasn't come, spiritual healing is happening in the midst. That often our trials are initiated out of love and that they are FOR OUR GOOD. I tell people that God has had me in spiritual boot camp for the last 3 1/2 years. I am VERY thankful for all that He has taught me through this.
Remember the Gazebo? (http://livininaboysworld.blogspot.com/2008/08/heavenly-gps.html) It was still there.. I took a picture for you. Not only was it still there... He is still there. And He is here~ with me. Proving himself faithful. Showing me how to continue to trust. Showing me that a perfect life may never happen for any of us but His grace will ALWAYS be sufficient. He desires
to meet with you, bring you to a gazebo and speak to you during suffering, to abide with you in ways you can never imagine. He will give you grace to endure. He can give joy and perseverance. He can also send a rope in it's time. He is faithful. Keep praying. Keep hoping and most importantly KEEP TRUSTING.
"Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God."
Isaiah 50:10
Be blessed~
Steph

11 comments:

sandi said...

I know my words won't be healing, But I love you and pray for you often. Tim keeps Brandon up to date on you and your health. We both love your family and hope you get through this without any more pain and fear. I hate both of those things so much! You of all people to don't deserve either.

Hang in there and know I read daily and think of you often.

Jill said...

My dear blog friend. I have developed a fondness for you and your family. I believe it is a little treasure that our God has blessed me with. I pray for your health, healing, boys, husband, schooling, bible studies, and even fear not parties. I have cried with you over many things. Your grandpa's letter. You dad's wisdom in the car. Today it was the woman sitting beside you in church. We may never meet, but I will hug your neck in eternity. I am sad for your pains and the trial in the mud, even when we are reassured it will bring glory to our Father. I have walked a few lonely paths calling out to Him to rescue me, and in hindsight loved the result...but I still felt the pain. If you have something I can specifically pray for, feel free to ask.

Melody said...

Steph-

I have been following your blog for a few months but I'm not familiar with your illness. Do you mind telling me what you're being treated for. You're such a beautiful person inside and out you look so healthy from your pictures I would never know you feel so bad. I will be praying for you during this difficult time.

Blessings,
Melody in Florida

Angela said...

Love you, Steph!!! It was great talking to you today. We are DOWN for Thursday! Andrew is excited about coming to Mr. Tim's house and wants to see if the bouncy house is still there. (We told him it wasn't but he wants to see it for himself.) We can be there to eat at six! YAY!

Anonymous said...

"...my love for the Lord is not dependant on circumstances. That no matter what tragedies this world may bring, I will continue to serve the One Who has given me life..." Stephanie, my eyes brimmed over as I read these lines - THIS is living out the gospel - the power of Jesus Christ, dwelling in you and pouring out.

I want you to know my heart hurts as I hear what you are experiencing - this is so hard- yes, others may have suffering or walk through pain that to us may even seem harder (as the woman you met at church), but this is all relative... it is being in that cistern, in the mud - and it's not easy and it's painful and it's suffering~

You encourage me this evening - I'm in a different kind of well of sorts - but I am reminded once again of God's will be better than my own - He indeed gives treasures in secret places and His hands never leave us.

praying.
Alyssa
resolved2worship

Nana said...

Oh Stephanie,

Even in the midst of this "cistern" ... this suffering, you are a fragrant co-sufferer with Christ.

Several things popped in my head as I read. One, Paul asked God three times to take away his thorn. God didn't ... said he was being kept from exalting himself (Paul? exalting self?) ... said His grace was sufficient, His power was perfected in weakness.

Well, Stephanie, all the above was evident as I just read: you are all about exalting Christ. I am soooo blest as I read, even encouraged, EVEN challenged. His power was obviously being perfected as he covered you that you could write such a beautiful long story (and His grace). I hung to every word.

Second thing that popped in my mind: As I think back on Jeremiah and the rope ... I think it took something like 38 rags to make the rope (well, actually 30 men with worn-out clothes and rags). This is just amazing! That pit was sooo deep and God knew just how many men / rags would be needed to lift him out.

So it is with you; today there is one more reaching in to lift you out. Only God knows how many men / women / rags will be required to lift you from the murky mud.

Jeremiah was God's prophet with a work still to do. I'm believing you are God's princess with a work still to do ... here ... and assignment waits in heaven.

May the God of heaven, the One we call Jehovah-Ropha, rise with healing in His wings and glorify Himself in your situation. May you be anointed with the oil of gladness while you wait for your healing. May your love for the Father continue to grow and bring forth fruit.

You are a blessing!

gillian said...

It's always amazing to me how He puts people, strangers in our lives at the right moment for specific purposes. The clarity you were given by meeting, sitting, praying with this dear older women was just what you needed and I pray that you hold fast to knowledge of His desire for you... "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I'm sure it's easier said than done when you're in such pain right now, but do know that He is refining you through all of this...to reach others for His glory!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey woman - we love you and pray for you daily - I am so sorry and I weep with you in this "cistern" - Please let us know if we can do anything for you! Cherie

Julie said...

Steph - I have no words to take away the pain you are feeling. I am so sorry to hear the pain is coming back. I am so moved by your spirit and your faith...it inspires me in my faith journey every time I read a post from you. I know we have never met and likely will never meet in person, but I am so thankful to have "met" you on-line. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

Praying for you...for your health, for your spirit, for healing.

maryanne420 said...

Hi Stephanie,

I thought of you this morning. I just read Hebrews and thought I'd share them with you, specifically:

Hebrews 11 (By Faith) and

Hebrews 12:7-11

Lifting you up in prayers and may the Lord wrap his armsa around you and give you his peace.

Mary Anne

sassashops said...

Stephanie,
I am so sorry to learn about your pain and illness. I would have never known you were suffering so last Sunday night during the conference call. You are a faithful warrior! That is for certain!

Through this trial a beautiful ministry has been delivered. Your words are such a blessing and inspiration and show meaning even while you are in pain. I am so thankful to have you come into my life.

I pray for you by name that the master Physician heals you from this debilitating ailment. May you have profound peace about the future, light in your
darkness moments, and meaning in your pain.

God bless you, Stephanie. I care so much for you already.
Mary T.