trials Tag

God is in Your Crisis

We might say to a group of people, “God is in your crisis.” But it is entirely different to look into the eyes of a hurting believer and say, “God is in your crisis.” This morning, as I read a commentary on the book of Isaiah, those words, “God is in your crisis,” popped off the page to me. I underlined them…and then I chewed on them as I drove to work. And God rephrased them, He re-emphasized them, “God...

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The Thorn’s Gift

There are certain writers whose writings I am drawn to: Philip Yancey, Elisabeth Elliot and Joni Eareckson Tada seem always to speak to my inner me. As I write these words, I have hundreds of books within my reach but the ones that I reread are written by those authors. They share a common message; the author has gone through difficult times. They have wrestled with the pain caused by those trials.  They have wrestled with the promises of God—and...

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Safe in the Arms

My verse, my only verse, in the depths of my black years was Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” I know that is not the whole verse, but I always tell people, half jokingly, that I wasn’t strong enough to handle a whole verse, a half of a verse was my limit. My prayer to the Lord at that time was that even if I could not feel those arms that He would...

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Getting in Shape

I decided that I wanted to get in better physical condition before my next birthday. I enjoy walking in the woods so thought that would be the place to start. My favorite place to walk is at the Wildwood Cross Country Ski Trails. I have explored that area with my father and other family members since I was 12 years old, so it has many warm memories as well as a place for me to enjoy the out of doors. At...

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How Much Can the Locusts Eat?

Joel 2:25 KJV And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. Every so often my mind wanders back to a bygone time. Some days that time seems like only yesterday and other times, it seems so far away I wonder if it really ever existed at all. Was it all only a dream? Or a nightmare? There we were, my wife...

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Wrestling in the Streets

I spent an hour in District Court this morning, not as a participant thankfully but as an observer. I was interested in a case dealing with a mentally challenged young man who inserted himself unknowingly into my life a few months ago. He has struggled with this affliction for many years, been in and out of trouble with the law and society and in and out of mental institutions. Because the proceedings did not start on time I had time...

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Famous Last Words

Many years ago, my brother faced a severe medical challenge. By the time my sister, myself, and our spouses, made the 180-mile trip to the hospital, he was hooked up to just about every machine the hospital owned. As we walked into his room, he opened his eyes and said in a very weak voice, “Well, this can’t be heaven, Karl is here.”

We stayed for a few minutes, trying to carry on a conversation but mainly trying to let him know that we loved him. More words were said before we left to begin the trek back home, but those words that this can’t be heaven are the only ones I remember. As far as I am concerned, those were Joe’s last words to me, and they bring a smile to my face every time I think of them. It is Crawford humor. It was a sign that everything was going to be alright. I made more trips to Grand Rapids to visit him, to stand in his hospital room and watch the machines keep his body alive, until they couldn’t anymore, but he never spoke to me again. His children graciously allowed my wife and I to be present when Joe breathed his last breath here on earth and we sang songs about the faithfulness of God. Joe was right, the ICU ward of Spectrum Hospital was not heaven, but he saw the real thing that day as he moved from one land to the next.

My wife’s mom, one of the godliest women you could ever know, struggled with her salvation for fifty plus years. I knew her for 37 of those years and she was the least likely person to have to question her salvation. My wife and I stood near as she lay in her hospital bed and said, “I was reading First John this afternoon and John said, “these things I have written that you may know your salvation is sure…and I think he wrote those words because there were others that wondered about their salvation. I don’t wonder anymore, now I know for sure.” We said other things before we left her room with the promise we would be back…but the phone call came only a few hours later from the hospital that she had only minutes left to live. We rushed to be with her, but she never spoke another word to us and her last words, in my mind, were “I don’t wonder anymore, now I know for sure.” It was her way of saying that everything was going to be alright. Only hours after she spoke them, her knowledge proved true as she met her Savior face to face.

A few years later, my mother faced her own medical trauma. The doctor asked her if she wanted an operation that might prolong her life but also could end it in surgery. She, at age 94 and 364 days, did not want surgery, she was ready to go home. Later that afternoon, spending some time alone with her in her room as she drifted in and out of consciousness, I told her that I loved her and she said, “I will be looking for you.” She knew she was on her way to her new home and that someday I would join her there.  Those were her last words, her way of saying that everything was going to be alright. And it was. Two days later, the day after she turned 95, she slipped away from her hospital room on the shores of Little Traverse Bay to see Jesus on heaven’s shores.

At my mother’s funeral, I read the following last words of famous people:

  • How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?  P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur, d. 1891
  • Before slipping into a coma, Winston Churchill said “I’m bored with it all.” He died 9 days later.  Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965
  • All my possessions for a moment of time.  Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603
  • Codeine…bourbon.  Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968
  • Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.  From Luke 23:46, Jesus Christ
  • Nothing matters. Nothing matters.  Louis B. Mayer, film producer, d. October 29, 1957
  • Lord help my poor soul.  Edgar Allan Poe, writer, d. October 7, 1849
  • Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.  Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, d. 1923
  • “I’ll be looking for you.”  Ida Crawford, d. January 27, 2004

Of all the famous last words, only the words of Jesus and Ida Crawford let us know that everything is going to be alright.

This prompts me to wonder, if I were laying in a hospital bed with somber nurses tending a multitude of machines, what words would I have to say? Would I be concerned with the past? Would I try to tie up loose ends? Would I apologize to my family for all my failures? Or would I be about the business of letting anyone know who would listen, everyone within earshot, that everything was going to be alright? I pray it will be the latter. Because it will be alright.

I spent many years questioning my salvation, just like my mother-in-law.  I will meet her there and we will share a smile because our salvation is not dependent on us, but on the precious work of Jesus Christ. I will look for my mother and she and I will both experience heaven’s healing in all sorts of ways. I will find my brother and tell him he was right about that hospital bed in Grand Rapids, it most certainly was not heaven. But most of all, I will fall at my Savior’s feet in worship, the One who made it alright.

What about you?