I think it was storming that night. Or is my memory playing tricks? Does our mind edit the weather to fit the mood of a tragic event?
Maybe you’ve faced that moment. A phone rings, or a doctor speaks, or a boss calls you into his office. And within an instant, the life you know is crumbling around you, and you aren’t sure it will ever be okay again.
* * *
Just an hour before, Brad and I had been sitting on kitchen counters, laughing, catching up. I’d been out of town. Amelia had come home from Africa only four months prior, and we relished that both of our daughters were sleeping in matching pajamas down the hall. Brad repeated the hilarious quotes I’d missed from our girls. I filled Brad in on my trip. I told him my relief when that surgeon had come into the waiting room to tell us my dad should recover well.
I wasn’t worried when my cell phone rang. Brad handed it to me. “It’s your mom,” he said.
I should have been worried.
Within minutes, my heart pounded as I drove through dark and rain towards the town I’d so recently left. My same suitcase had still been sitting by the front door, never unpacked from Daddy’s surgery. I’d grabbed it in haste and ran through a downpour to my car. Now my body ached with adrenaline, and my mind swirled with denial. I gripped the steering wheel until my fingers tingled.
“He had the stroke in a hospital,” I thought. “Thank God he was in the hospital. They can help him immediately. The effects shouldn’t be too bad.”
I was wrong. Mama stood panick-stricken in the hospital hallway and explained it. Doctors can do nothing to alleviate the damage of a post-open-heart-surgery stroke. “The nurses didn’t even hurry.” Her shoulders dropped.
So Daddy lay far from us, hidden in the cardiac ICU, waiting for the stroke’s full devestation to complete itself. Meanwhile, Mama hid her colorless face in her hands, slumped forward on a couch in the room where she’d just witnessed the shattering of her life.
There was nothing we could do but wait. It’s the worst kind of waiting — waiting on the inevitable. Waiting for destruction to finish its work.
* * *
Maybe you’ve gotten terrible news. A diagnosis, a divorce, a dark cloud relentlessly blowing across the sky towards you. A storm has come, or is looming in the distance. There is no shelter from this downpour. You have no choice but to stand in the hurricane. And you are terrified.
In those wee-morning hours before we were allowed to see my dad, I knelt on the hospital floor cried out to God. Except I couldn’t find any words. My mind was too frenzied to pray. When God’s children have no words, we have something far better: God’s Word.
Right there on that cold hospital floor, I opened my Bible and began reading where I’d last left off. The verses I found were a life-jacket strong enough for any storm.
“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. […] Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. […] You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf.'” 2 Chronicles 20:12,15,17
* * *
For my dad, God’s salvation came in many forms: praying friends, casseroles, tiny miracles and terrible setbacks, rehab and small victories. Salvation came as healing beyond what we’d first dared to hope. And, strangely enough, salvation came through the chronic pain that still plagues Daddy to this day. Daddy thanks Jesus even for that pain. “Suffering is better than not suffering.” This is what my dad said during the hell of his recovery. He still believes it, even on the days his body aches and betrays all he’s endured. That he can speak such hard words is proof of God’s salvation through a devastating situation.
God’s salvation can come for you, too. Your hurricane may be horrific. But those verses from 2 Chronicles 20 say everything you need to know for your storm:
You are powerless. The forces against you are great. You may be stunned, speachless, and without a plan.
But keep your eyes on God. He says you don’t have to be afraid, nor do you need to fight. He claims this battle as His. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.