There have been many times when my peace was shattered: in difficult storms, painful wounds, and major losses…and I was in turmoil. Just recently my husband was found to be in life-threatening diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome. We were both overwhelmed with his new diagnosis and treatment regimen on top of multiple other health issues. We fully realize countless others have successfully dealt with this diagnosis, but the initial shock left us overwhelmed.
A few years ago we were reading our devotions when my husband quietly asked me to read Psalm 91. He wasn’t sure what it said, but he had a strong sense that he needed to tell me to read this particular Psalm.
Reading Psalm 91 aloud, I found these words written by King David spoke to my heart: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’… He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart… If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent… ‘Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him…’ He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (vs.1-2, 4, 9-10, 14-15. NIV)
Despite the tears rolling down while reading the entire Psalm, I felt a great sense of comfort and peace; that peace which passes all understanding despite the trial. (Philippians 4:7)
None of us is immune to the storms of life, though sometimes God graciously allows a storm to pass around us without disturbing our equilibrium. Yet neither are we promised a life of ease. As Jesus reminded his followers in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The one who is ill may not even look ill. They remember their busy and fulfilling life of the past, replaced by a limited worth or useless feeling that permeates their days. It is normal to grieve life changes with sadness and frustration, even as my husband’s great sense of humor pops through to envelope us in therapeutic hearty laughter.
I will also admit to a touch of envy knowing most friends can do anything or go wherever they want. It can be hard to identify with those who deal with chronic illness, facing health issues and concerns healthy folks don’t encounter. There is a grieving process that can initially leave you void of the joy which James 1:2-3 speaks about as we accept chronic illness.
Guilt may be added to the chronically ill person and family when prayers for healing seem to go unanswered. We pray for healing, but especially for strength to handle each day. Healing as we want may not be God’s will. The Apostle Paul was not healed as he desired, but learned God’s grace was sufficient with Christ’s power and strength evident through his weaknesses. (II Corinthians 12:7-10) Relying on God for wisdom and strength each day, we see His power shine through.
I will never forget a hospital chaplain who sat with me when Ed was in the ICU 10 years ago for severe grand mal seizures. Gradually pulling out our life story, he listened and cared deeply, praying with me in facing a new stressor.
We appreciate the support and prayers of family and friends as we face each new storm. Take time to hear concerns as we accept a new norm, leaning on God as He walks beside us. Offers of help are gratefully appreciated. Share your heartfelt hugs. Convey a depth of feeling in asking, “How are you doing?” Friends and family who ask and truly listen to understand what anyone with chronic illness faces bring much comfort.
While we’re inside the storm, even though the wind and waves batter our world, we do remember God is still there, still in control. We know we can trust Him to hold us tightly, to shelter and protect…even though we may lose everything, including life itself, as when we lost our daughter. Yet, through the storm, He will make a way, perhaps close one door to open a better one, and shine His light to guide us as we move forward…one step at a time.
It’s where we place our trust that peace will be revealed. And when it’s placed in our Lord’s perfect will, trusting that He has our best interests at heart even in the most difficult times, we see Him help us handle what’s come our way as we grow in faith to become more like Christ. With such trust, our faith remains unshakeable and we find a renewed peace, with a joy that passes understanding.
There’s a painting I love entitled “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Jack E. Dawson. The story is told that a wealthy benefactor searched for the perfect painting depicting peace. The first two beautiful tranquil scenes were rejected. When the artist returned to his easel in frustration at his work being rejected, his prayer prompted the design of a riveting scene. On a dark and stormy night, water gushes in torrents over rocky ledges. Calmly, a mother bird sits upon her nest tucked under a ledge, protecting her young while the elements rage. Now that's peace!
Studying that painting, I also notice a profile of Christ in the rock formations and a cross created by rocky fractures. Considering how our heavenly Father gently guides and protects us during the storms of life, however fierce they may be, it’s His canopy of love and peace that shelters and comforts. And, I can be at peace when life is in turmoil knowing that “[He] will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him]. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord…is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV)