As many know, my husband was readmitted to the hospital Thursday. Overlapping congestive heart failure, diabetes, and kidney failure walk a fine line together. Not sure of the immediate future, as none of us do, we watch the world go merrily on its way as we grapple with life’s unknowns, frustrations and limitations, all the while knowing God is here with us and has a plan. His will may not be the plan we want, but as we go to Him, He gently wraps his arms around us, holding us up, giving us strength to face what is meant to be, with His love… I actually needed to be reminded of that and found this poem and blog I’d written in 2017, unpublished previously, so fitting for so many of us today… especially in the heartache of sudden losses like those who are suffering amidst Kentucky’s devastating flash flooding, as we collectively mourn with the families who lost loved ones and everything they owned. May you each be blessed and comforted today with our God’s great love within your own difficulties.
Life can be so hard and painful, difficult and unfair. We may face debilitating fears of the unknown on hearing a difficult medical diagnosis. I remember the shock of hearing I had breast cancer. My mind shut down. I did not hear much of what else my doctor had to say. The fears of the unknown were very real, as were my tears. And I know many of you, my dear friends and readers, have faced similar situations.
You may feel deep pain and grief in the loss of a loved one before their time… like the losses of our first two preborn infants – Heather at 6 months, believed to be twins who did not separate, followed by a second baby at 3-1/2 months, and then the loss of our daughter Jennifer at 25 years, a month after she graduated with her Master’s in school psychology, leaving behind her husband of 3 years.
You may carry the heart wounds of betrayal and abuse, suffer the destruction of a family home or business, or the loss of everything around you in devastating natural disasters, and more. You know all too well your own trials… There is so much we don’t understand in this life.
Yet, amidst all the pain and grief we endure, we can rise from the ashes of devastating losses to a joyous new beginning. For God is with us, even on those days when we feel abandoned and alone, like no one cares. Even then, He is there. He never leaves us. Perhaps He seems silent, but He is truly never far away. His arms are always open, ready to hold us, perhaps even to carry us for a while. But He never leaves us nor abandons us.
We may not understand the why of our pain while walking the difficult road… but the Lord has His reasons for allowing us to take that journey. Perhaps this is what it takes to draw us back to His side, to understand His love, to know forgiveness with His lavish gift of mercy and grace through Jesus’ sacrifice, and to know His love and peace beyond understanding.
In John 16:33, Jesus told his disciples, and us, that “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.” Yet even the strongest among us faces difficult days with doubts about so many things… and we contemplate…
Joshua was told by God as he prepared the Israelites to enter the promised land: “6. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them… 9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” They had lived for so many years and generations as slaves to the Egyptians and their brutality. Now, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness under Moses, after facing many difficulties where God showed His loving hand in providing and caring for them, there was still fear of the unknown among the people.
Again, hundreds of years later, the prophet Isaiah also shared God’s words with the Israelites, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV) Words we can also hold onto in our hearts in this every-day journey of life.
One of my favorite verses is Peter’s words reminding us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 NIV) And yet, I fall short in bringing ALL my cares and concerns to God, and I stand guilty of fretting and fearing.
Again, Isaiah wrote down precious words God gave him to encourage us all during trials: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV)
Finally, as the writer of Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
Yes, I have to keep reminding myself of the words of God written well before our time. These verses show what great love our Lord has for us. He knows and understands the daily trials of life we face… the losses and pains we suffer… Though we may consider our losses to be ashes of our treasures, ultimately God will give us joy and peace through the difficulties we face when our hearts are secure in Him… as we hold onto Jesus’ nail-scarred hands and bask in His great love… for “[He will] provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” (Isaiah 61:3)
What rejoicing we share when blessed with His peace! Never will He leave us, never will He forsake us!
Out of the Ashes
Linda A. Roorda
Out of the ashes comes a healing heart
And from the shattered comes broken beauty
A miracle born midst languishing hope
Comes shining light that glows from within.
Though all I can give is a heart of love
The simplest of gifts with no strings attached
I give it to you with hands held out
As You lift me up to stand rejoicing.
From heavenly throne to servant of all
You humbly came to seek and to save
Bringing compassion, discerning my heart
You gazed on my soul to see the real me.
If all my riches were piled up high
They‘d account for naught when put through the fire
But where I have stored the Light of the world
Is where the treasures of my heart are held.
For out of the ashes comes a heart at peace
Broken and shattered in sorrow and shame
But born anew by Your sacrifice
Your love covers all with mercy and grace.
Linda Roorda writes from her home in Spencer.