“There’s no hope, his condition simply will not improve.”
The doctor’s words sucked the air out of the room as quickly as they tumbled off his lips. I began to feel lightheaded and excused myself while my husband and the doctor spoke about my husband’s chronic condition.
As I stepped outside into the steamy summer afternoon, I began to cry uncontrollably. The burdens of this dreadful season had chipped away at my sense of purpose and hope. As the tears fell and my frustrations welled up inside me, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart.
“Jenny, I’ve called you to be confident and courageous in this battle.”
Immediately my excuses began. I didn’t “ feel” confident and courageous. I felt defeated and deflated. I had been struggling with allowing my feelings to be moved and manipulated by sight. Everything I saw around me scared me. The news scared me. The stories I heard of struggles from friends and family scared me. The things that were happening in my life scared me. The unknown really scared me!
Right then, I posed a question to the Lord: God, show me how to remain confident in you during this battle. Show me how to persevere.
Have you walked through a season where everything you saw before you looked hopeless? You question if your prayers are being heard. You ask yourself if God is at work. You wonder if you’re walking this journey alone.
Over the next several weeks, the Lord began to show me what a confident and courageous heart looks like. In order to fully grasp what it means to be courageous and confident in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10), we must first examine what the opposite of courage and confidence looks like.
We’re going to visit another hero of the faith: King David. David’s story throughout the Scriptures is one of courage, perseverance, and faith. He embodies a confident and courageous heart. However, we’re going to see David during a time when he allowed his earthly sight to rule over his heart.
In 1 Chronicles 21, David asks his men to take a census of the army. As the commander in chief, it seems reasonable to find out how many men he has available to fight for the country. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, yet we find David’s motives deceive him.
By counting the Israelite men, David places his faith in the strength of his army. He is beginning to trust more in military power than in the power of God. Yikes! Oh, how my heart can relate to David.
Recently I found a journal entry from several years ago. It was during the same time my husband was in the thick of his storm. There was no light at the end of the tunnel and no end in sight to his suffering.
I penned these words one night:
One week from today we will go to yet another neurologist appointment. I’m not sure how many more I can take. It’s been two-and-a-half years. Two years of figuring this out, praying, fasting, doctors, medicines. Two years of patience, tear-soaked prayers, running to the altar, asking why, anger, denial, impatience, and being broken. Yet, recently something happened inside my heart it all ended, the striving, the trying to figure it out, the pleading with God. I’ve chosen to surrender.
For over two years I placed my trust in the strength of my “army” of doctors and new medicines; however, like David my heart wasn’t in the right place. My confidence was in my strength and abilities and those around me instead of the power of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we find a promise, a guiding light:
“But we have this precious treasure, the good news about salvation, in unworthy earthen vessels of human frailty, so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be shown to be from God—His sufficiency—and not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP)
Confidence and courage lie in acknowledging our human frailty–rejoicing in it even as Paul describes—and allowing God’s mighty power not our own to fight our battles. Courage comes when we raise the white flag and surrender our “armies” of self-sufficiency. Confidence arrives when we fix our eyes on the power of God in our lives and not in what we see.
God-dependency is all about our perspective. It’s about what we choose to “see.” Will we look at our earthly treasures like possessions and positions as having the power to save or will we allow the power of God to be revealed in our lives?
Through the story of Gideon, we see a man who understands his place in God’s greater story. He understands courage and confidence come when you lay down your strength in exchange for God’s strength. He knows doubts, insecurities, and fear, yet he answers the call to be courageous and strong in the Lord, not in himself.
What does this say to us? Instead of being women who shout, “She believed she could, so she did,” our declaration is “She believed she could, and so He did!” All our battles are opportunities for God to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us.
The experience of my husband’s chronic illness taught me that when I allow God to work and stop striving in my own sufficiency, I can see God’s peace and presence during the battle. God is good and He longs for us to see His glory and His outstretched hand in the chaos of our lives, in our families, and in our world.
Our stories aren’t easy, the roads we travel are often broken. Our hearts long to see the promises of God fulfilled. Yet, sometimes during the suffering, the waiting, the unknown, we must choose to see . . . and we must choose to believe in the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power of God!
Thank you for sharing a part of your story. I was encouraged and grateful to know that I am not alone !
God bless you and your ministry
Anna Smit says
Thank you for this beautiful word of encouragement. I am being so blessed by the Flourish Gideon study. Today, I sat with the jars being broken by Gideon’s men and wondered why they did this. It connects so beautifully with your devotional here and with the Greek Word study I did of Ephesians 6:10 and 1 Corinthians 16:13. It also helped me connect Isaiah 30:14, 2 Corinthians 4:7 and Luke 20:18. His peace truly transcends our understanding, as He fixes our eyes on Himself.
I saw that in my Mum through brain cancer so much. She’s now in heaven pain free and healed and whole. I am so sorry for the chronic pain your husband has been walking through, but so blessed to hear how God is working even through this. May God continue to be so near to you both.
Cleo Lampos says
This is exactly the encouragement that I have needed for a long time. Well written. Inspiring. God-breathed.
Thank you for sharing.
Our stories are very similar. My heart squeezed when you spoke of hearing the diagnosis from the Neurologist. My husband too…
Thank you for speaking your truth and lifting up the heads of your readers… Lifting us up to see from a higher perspective. Beautiful. Thank you.
Sheila Scherlin says
Thank you for sharing this. My husband may need an operation which will prematurely end our time with my family (we are in MA for the summer to be with them). My husband has ongoing heath issues that have limited our activities. This devotional was encouraging and inspiring. Thank you so much.
Thank you for this. I’m in the midst of incredible struggle right now. My physical strength is zapped and there’s nothing I can do except wait on the Lord. In ministry, I look at what God’s placed before me and there’s no way I can accomplish anything in my own striving. So, my “declaration is ‘She believed she could, and so He did!’ I will claim that “All our battles are opportunities for God to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us.”
I set aside my white-knuckled grip on my striving and instead hang onto hope in the Lord.
Thank you for such a powerful testimony of relying on God vs our self sufficiency. Ugh….this is a battle for those of us who have walked according to the motto; “just pull yourself up by the boot straps and keep going.” Those of us with “trust” issues struggle to “let go and let God.” Surrender can sometimes feel like “giving up” like I’m just laying down or checking out. This new peace can feel scary because it’s so unfamiliar for a striver to be at rest. Yet I’m learning this new peace I have to fully trust in the One who has it all in His hands, is freeing not frightening. The enemy wants us to focus on how we’re not “doing” anything and how “bad” that is yet if we resist his lies and turn to the Truth, fully submitted to our Savior, the fear and lies flee!
Beautifully said and heartfully received! Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Since I am going through therapy after a ski accident with both knees injured, this has encouraged me to keep doing what I can do, and leave the rest to God’s doing. Faith that moves mountains that seem to block our way, is sometimes lived out by walking up that mountain, one step at a time, and then on down the other side. And often it isn’t until we’re on flat ground again, that we realized that the mountain never moved; we did, by God’s Grace! Blessings to you, Jenny!
Beverly Greenslade says
Jenny, what a beautiful writer God has allowed you to be.
I’m new to Flourish and have joined the writers class. For many many years Ive hear God telling me to write my book(s). No clue how….But after finding your group I feel some hope that I can do it. Why I keep fighting? I have to stop. My Faith is strong in Jesus the Son & God the Father. When I think of all the amazing miracle He has done in my life . Just blows my mind.
I hope to have a long relationship with you girls.
This popped into my inbox as I prepare to give a testimony on my own experience of grief and surrender with my husband’s lifelong degenerative illness, so I couldn’t go by without commenting. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, it has been an encouragement to me! God bless you with peace as you lean into the hard spaces. He meets us there and he is so good!
Sandi Terreri says
Thank you for these blessed words. Yes, I have been there . . . and in some ways, I still am. Different circumstances, same me and — praise God — same faithful and loving God! As I look around me I realize (yet again) that while I thought I surrendered all, I really only surrendered a portion. I kept taking back part of what I had surrendered. Thank you, I have surrendered again and will continue to surrender on a daily, minute-by-minute basis until it is simply a part of me. Praising God and thanking Him for you. May your day be blessed!
So encouraging! ???
Terri D says
Thank you Jenny.
Georgene Keith says
What a wonderful testimony to our God’s greatness. Thank for sharing. I also went through a similar situation several years back, trying always to trust my God through the process. He is a great and awesome God.
Linda Cobourn says
Jenny, as I grapple with my husband’s recent passing, I am reminded of the many, many years he struggled with his illness and I stayed faithfully by his side. But I can admit now that it was a long and difficult struggle and I was not always dependent upon the power of the Lord, but often upon my own power to work more, do more, be more to my husband and my children. As I write some about Ron’s death and how the kids and I are handling things, I am being prepared to write a deeper story, one that might not be popular: it was not always easy, it was not always pretty.
Our stories inspire and provide us courage. Thank you for yours.
Thank you for sharing your testimony, I needed this at this time.
Confidence in God is the true strength as I’m reminded of these verses,
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength ,
My Grace is sufficient for thee in your weakness my strength is made perfect.
Keep up your good work Jenny, God bless you.
The Lord Jesus Christ is faithful and good.
I just hanged up the phone with a friend by telling her that i was so sad by my sister cancer.
I feel so overwhelmed , so unworthy that i can barely pray.
Thank you for your testimony
Blessings to you and yours
Christie Kincaid says
Thank you for this wonderful word of encouragement! God is always good and faithful, even through the tough situations of life. Thank you for being faithful to impart God’s truth to others. I love how you changed the quote to “She believed she could, and so He did.” It is all about the surrender of our lives to the sovereign power of God.