I have felt such a conviction to be “that” woman who deals graciously with the stuff life throws at us sometimes. How do you become that? We in the US are so spoiled spiritually, with such amazing freedoms to share our faith with others and to worship openly. We are so spoiled materially. We are called upon to minister to the poor and we definitely should – yet we don’t have a concept of poverty in our country. Our poor are classified as a family of four making less than $18800 per year. Sounds bad, right? Yet many of the world’s poorest survive on pennies a day! In the midst of our abundance, we aren’t enduring suffering in a way so many women of this world are suffering. Yet, when tragedy DOES come, and it will, to one extent or another, how do we stand under it? I heard some amazing women’s life stories this weekend, at DFW’s Women of Faith conference in Dallas – women who have been abused, betrayed, faced with unimaginable family tragedy. Then, at church this morning, Pastor Jack talked about strength in stress. Hmm, could the Lord be trying to teach me something? I don’t think the lesson is “Buck up!” “Don’t be such a wuss!” (‘though I feel like that sometimes…) I think the answer can be found in Exodus 14:14 – The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet. The Israelites were in the backside of a wilderness, facing enemies they had no resources to fight. The situation looked hopeless and there was not one thing they could do. I will never in my life be faced with that kind of situation, yet I know the feeling… My life is a bed of roses next to this, yet at certain times in my life I have felt totally helpless to change the outcome of what looks like a coming train wreck. So, what do we do? Give up? Scream and yell in hysteria and panic? But listen to His words – “Be still and watch what I will do. See how I can intervene in ways you never thought possible.” (paraphrasing Exodus 14:14)
That’s tough to do, ya know? Be still. I’m a nurse and we are taught to “fix” things, especially in my field of obstetrics. Hang in there, just a little longer. In the meantime, have an epidural! There, you see! Beautiful baby – mission accomplished! It’s not always that easy (tongue in cheek – there ain’t nothin’ easy about childbirth!). I WANT to fix things, I need to fix things… Faith comes hard.
So, how do we develop faith? Again, using a labor and delivery scenario, I tell my moms who come in with contractions that don’t lead to labor “Mr. Universe doesn’t show up to the day of the bodybuilding competition and lift gazillion pounds without any practice. He starts as a scrawny kid of 18, being diligent about working out in his garage gym, then moving to the gym around the corner, then getting a trainer and being more intentional, working out daily. This labor thing is a workout and you do NOT want to go full force suddenly on your baby’s birth day. Your body has to be prepared slowly for the Big Day and you have probably been having miniscule contractions since month 6 or 7 – well, now they are getting tougher the closer it gets to the Big Day.”
I cannot deal with the hurts, anxieties and tragedies of life without discipline and diligence. That doesn’t sound like being still, does it? Yet when we take the time to reflect in His Word on God’s promises to never leave us or forsake us, when we sing the songs of the ages about His faithfulness, when we stop in our day to listen to His voice tell us that He loves us and has a plan for this chaos, we are building spiritual muscles to handle whatever comes along. It takes spiritual fortitude to ignore the screaming toddler, the grumpy husband, the angry boss and remember these words, that “those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” But when we do, our situation may not change but our attitude does. Or maybe the situation does change – maybe the Red Sea opens and swallows up the enemy, right after we have crossed through the Sea on dry land. (No, do not pray this for your husband! I know you want to…) And then, sister, you can carry on!