Some days…some weeks can bombard us that leave us depleted. Our strength seems to run out faster than any energy sources we put in. Relief and pathways or options out of the storm we may feel we are in the midst of seem unclear or absent. And even though we may have had experience with such times, they still cramp our style, tense our muscles, and weary us.
At such times we would love to have a big solution that arrives quickly, but most often that isn’t what happens. God’s grace shows up other ways but leaves an unmistakable imprint of his love.
The past three weeks have been a bit like that in our house.
We lead a full life and stay active in a lot of ways despite chronic back issues for my sweet husband, but something shifted (Who knows what?) and what was chronic and predictable became acute pain that did not respond to much of anything that usually helps. We called and sought a multi-faceted team to try to sort out the issues and provide relief including a family of prayers (some related and others related only through the Lord’s blood). Here and there the pain might subside for a small period of time, but it wasn’t steady improvement and discouragement and anxiety were nipping at our heels.
The appointment we were most eager to have with the specialist finally came and we left early to be sure we wasted no minutes we would get. But on the way there traffic slowed to a crawl and it was certain to result in arriving late and perhaps having the appointment canceled as a result.
In the midst of it all an app on my phone suggested an alternate route that we were close
enough to an off ramp to try. We didn’t know if it would get us there on time, but it was clear the usual route would not so we took the route suggested and arrived exactly when we needed to be there.
The specialist wasn’t available, but his nurse practitioner was. We were concerned about how helpful she could be or what level of expertise she could offer to what we knew was a complex set of back issues. She arrived in the exam room with excellent questions and listening skills and spent nearly an hour and a half with us and also consulted with the specialist with the latest x-rays to assure he agreed with what she was seeing on them. In the midst of looking for the “big” person with a “big” answer, the nurse practitioner met us in ways we could not have expected.
The recommendation of an MRI was the next step recommended. We had no idea how long we would need to wait since the week was punctuated with a holiday. We wanted the MRI right away after learning it’s results would determine the treatment plan that hopefully would lead to less pain and healing, but MRI’s often take time to get scheduled.
In the midst of our concern about how long we would wait for an appointment, one was open at another approved facility in less than two hours. Unheard of to have that option within a few hours.
On our trip to the facility a half hour away a major crash on the highway brought traffic to a complete stop. Minute by minute as the time passed, it was easy to wonder if we would miss the appointment. In the midst of our fear we would miss it, police rerouted traffic up an on ramp we were near and we managed to find roads from there to arrive at the MRI facility exactly on time.
In the midst…
The Lord meets us in the midst and sometimes through ways we cannot expect or may even miss if it isn’t one of those big solutions we hope for.
He meets us in the midst because He sees. He cares. He’s there even if we don’t sense or see Him.
It reminds me of the story in Matthew 14:22-29. Jesus has been teaching and wants time alone to be with the Father and sends the disciples alone in a boat to the opposite shore.
While Jesus is alone on the mountain where He had gone to pray, the disciples, some of whom were seasoned fishermen, are straining at the oars as a fierce wind and stormy sea threatens to upend them. There is plenty of reason to fear and wish Jesus were there. He had been with them in a boat in a storm before and told the wind and waves to be still.
Even though He is not with them in the boat, He sees their struggle and goes to them. He shows up in the midst of the storm and their struggle and offers them peace.
He had already been there in the midst, but He demonstrated it in a way that was unmistakable out of his grace and love.
“But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
Isaiah 43:1-3a (NIV)