Three years ago today, a dear friend and I sat together in an empty church sanctuary fighting back tears as we contemplated the fact that unwanted trials had crashed into our lives, leaving fear and uncertainty in its wake.
We had shared our prayer requests and we had searched the Bible together for promises to cling to, knowing that God’s eternal, unchanging Word was our only anchor in the storm.
Suddenly, a wonderful idea dawned on me like a ray of hope and I turned to my friend with a smile.
“Why don’t we agree to meet on this day next year?! This awful season will be over and we can celebrate God’s faithfulness and goodness in taking care of us!”
She wholeheartedly agreed and we parted ways, looking forward to all the praises we would share one year later.
Except…April 5, 2010 arrived…and the storms were still raging in our lives.
Still, we praised God for the myriad of ways He has protected us, provided for us, guided us, and loved us. Our anticipation was high that next year would be the year when this would all be over. We so looked forward to that day.
April 5, 2011 dawned and my friend and I faced that date with bruised hearts. The road had been so long, the path rocky. The tears had flowed and so many prayers had flooded the Throne. Still, joy was present. We had both learned to savor and count our blessings from the hand of our very good God, which is always a pathway to joy. We still declared God’s goodness to each other, in the face of circumstances that overwhelmingly screamed the opposite.
He promises that He will never break a bruised reed or quench a dimly burning flame (Isaiah 42:3). Against all odds, hope still burned in both of our hearts. We didn’t understand but we were determined to praise through this. Our hope was not wishful thinking. For the Christian, our Hope is a person and His name is Jesus.
And Jesus is faithful. Always.
This morning, April 5, 2012, I received an email from the friend who I have truly grown to love.
While we weren’t able to get together on this day, this was a day of rejoicing.
Three years later, the storm clouds had given way to sunshine and the promise of spring. We had both entered a very welcome new season in 2011. Life did not suddenly become perfect for either of us (there is no such thing), but we had seen the hand of our Savior move powerfully in our situations, performing wonders that only He could.
Our faith had triumphed and our friendship was as real as it gets. We had laughed, we had cried, we had prayed. We had survived.
A precious gift…gold from the fire.
Yet, Jesus had one more surprise on this day for me. He always has more in store for us than we can even imagine.
About a month ago, I mentioned to one of my best friends, Jackie, that Doug and I would soon be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. She informed me that the twentieth anniversary was represented by platinum. Since I am a big fan of jewelry, I was all over that and shared this important news with Doug. Being the amazing husband he is, he agreed that a diamond and platinum ring was the perfect way to celebrate such a momentous milestone and we paid a visit to a local jeweler.
This afternoon, my phone rang.
It was the wife of the jeweler, telling me that my ring was ready…three days early.
All of a sudden, it dawned on me what day it was…April 5th. How sweet His timing is! Three years to the day that I sat in that church sanctuary, wondering what my future would look like.
Now I knew the answer to that question.
I live in a beautiful home that we easily could have lost with the man that I have loved for almost half my life. Following the toughest years of our lives, our marriage is stronger than ever. Our children are thriving. We are debt free.
We. are. a. MIRACLE.
Imagine if I had given up. Look what I would have missed! Jesus alone knew what my life would look like three years from that day and all He asked was that I trust Him day by day (sometimes minute by minute).
Through it all, He gave me the greatest gift of all: Himself. Regardless of how this thing had turned out, I knew I would be okay because I can never lose Him. He is everything to me.
Please hear this if you are going through a struggle right now: His timing is PERFECT. He can be trusted. Cling to Him. Do not give into fear. Never give up.
We are living proof that God honors bold faith. That He is and always will be GOOD. That His love never fails. That His Word can be trusted. That He is a REDEEMER. That when we finally let go of all that we frantically cling to and open our hands, He can fill those hands with blessings unimaginable.
I will praise Him for as long as I live.
And each time I look at this ring, I will remember the miracles He performed on our behalf.
No, there are not always happy endings in this life.
But we don’t live for happy endings. We live for a Savior who is always ENOUGH.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are Mine. 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. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior…you are precious and honored in My sight…I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-4).