My parents are an example of godliness over the long haul. They are not perfect by any means (I bring enough taintedness to challenge anyone’s perfection), but they have been faithful servants of God through the years wherever God has taken them. Since my father began working for British Airways in India God has allowed both my parents to travel the world, live in various context (Sudan, Iceland, England, Germany, Bahamas, India, Israel…) and experience the varied cultural dynamics of various ethnic groups. In all of their travels they made it a point to share the Gospel, support local ministries and help missionaries as much as possible. When my father retired from British Airways after 36 years it was natural for him to move into ministry where he has been for over 30 years, the last 17 being in the Appalachian Mountains of Blairsville, Georgia.
Now my mother is 83 and my father is 87. Dad is still shepherding a little Assemblies of God church whose doors would now be closed otherwise and my mother has recently digressed with Alzheimer’s. A radical change has taken place in their lives as mom doesn’t speak, needs full attention, must be fed and has a minimal attention span. Of course, it is far too much for dad to do himself and so she is in a care facility in Blairsville. I recently went to visit them and enjoyed some conversation with mom which means me talking and her listening, smiling and shaking her head in agreement. Every time we stopped in to see her on my visit her eyes would light up, yet, she would often be quickly distracted by a nurse, another guest at the care facility or the many tassels on the shawl that she loves to wear. She knows me, she smiles at me, but so quickly she is drifting off. To watch such a degeneration take place is truly difficult, yet, because I have a sovereign God who is always at work I find comfort in knowing He has it all under control.
Isn’t that the way it is in life? Trials and difficulties come and go…some are here to stay and others are temporary. Some are harder to bear and others seem to be simply a tolerable nuisance. In all of our troubles, however, God promises us that…
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
In my situation I am struggling over my mother’s struggle – if that makes sense. Yet, because of my mother’s Alzheimer’s she really doesn’t know much about all that is going on. She forgets quickly, yet God has given her some recognition of those she loves. What I and she are going through is a “normal” part of life. It is called dying…a topic we always want to avoid, but a harsh reality of living, even for a believer. God has ordained that we all die and because of the fall our dying experience is often a struggle, painful and difficult for others involved. My pain is emotional & relational. My mothers suffering is mental & physical. Thankfully we who have embraced the Love that God has gifted us through faith in the sacrificial suffering that took place on the cross, can even rejoice in times like these.
Get this…in all our trials God is faithful! He keeps his word, His promises are sure and His character is consistent. You can depend on Him, trust Him and count on His constant attention to your difficulty. Not only that, but He promises us that with His help we can face any trial He brings our way. But, this next part is where many people get tripped up — they are looking for a “way of escape” as if God is coming with a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over your problem eager to just pull you up and out of it. Well, I am not saying that He never does that or that we shouldn’t pray for immediate deliverance or healing, I’m all for that — it is, however better to understand the expression “way of escape” as “a way out” or “a path to follow”. In other words, God is guiding us along a path through our trial. He wants us to be listening to Him all along the journey and He comforts us by promising us that we will be able to endure the trial. Remember, He is our all-knowing God who loves us and redeemed us from the bondage and suffering of our sin. Surely, He has power for our trial and can be trusted as a guide for our journey.
So, friend, even though I and my mother (& father) are struggling with our own unique trials, we have the joy and pleasure of gripping our Father’s hand with confidence, trusting in His wisdom. We are certain about our future, about our spiritual family status and about our Sovereign God.
Take a closer look at your trial through the lens of 1 Corinthians 10:13 and be encouraged!