Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sometimes Miracles Hide

"There's value in the struggle.  Don't run from it. 
Don't attempt to avoid or abort it. 
You see, the struggle is part of your story,
and one day it will be for God's glory." 
~ Pastor Greg

A few years ago I listened to Joni Eareickson Tada speak about her spinal cord injury - the one she sustained when only a young girl of 18; the one that left her quadriplegic.  Joni's 64 now, just a year younger than I am.

What she conveyed the day I heard her speak was this:  she wouldn't trade her life, even if it meant she'd be able to walk again.  In her own words:  

"Even though I have rough moments in my wheelchair,
for the most part I consider my paralysis a gift.
Just as Jesus exchanged the meaning of the Cross
from a symbol of torture to one of hope and salvation,
He gives me the grace to do the same with my chair.
If a cross can become a blessing, so can a wheelchair.
The wheelchair, in a sense, is behind me now.
The despair is over. There are now other crosses to bear,
other "wheelchairs" in my life to be exchanged into gifts."

How like God to hide a miracle that might otherwise been seen as a tragedy. 

Like Joni, we have friends that have recently endured a huge hurdle of their own in the form of infertility.  No amount of planning or medical aid helped.  The years dragged on, and the young couple nearly despaired of ever being parents to their own flesh & blood child.  But ... (and there's ALWAYS a "but" with God), there came a day when they discovered ~ to their utter joy & amazement ~ a child had been conceived.  Come to find out, TWO children had been conceived.  The twins began to grow right along with their thankfulness to God & their dreams for the babies.

Somewhere, in the course of a routine pregnancy visit it was discovered that one child (a girl) was developing normally, the other (a boy) was not.  He had Down Syndrome.

After the initial shock & sorrow subsided, these two began preparing for the gifts God had granted them.  Gifts.  From birth onward, both children have been seen as and treated as normal.  And to anyone who'll listen, they proclaim the unspeakable joy in seeing God's hand in it all. 

How like God to hide a miracle in what might otherwise appear to be heartbreaking.

Last week we had the great pleasure of returning to Arizona for a long overdue visit with family and friends.  At the heart of the visit was the delight of sharing time with two of our favorite people:  Pastor Greg & Lori.  As many of you know, Greg has been battling a neurological disorder known as M.S.A. (Multiple System Atrophy), which behaves much like Parkinson's & Lou Gehrig's combined.  The prognosis isn't desirable, and ultimately it means an abbreviation of Greg's life.

(Greg & Lori ~ 2009)

I cannot count the number of times I heard the word gift from these two in relation to the M.S.A. ravaging Greg's body.  Oh ... make no mistake, they've shed plenty of tears.  And the road they're travelling is hardly easy or one they'd have hand-picked.  They are young (early 40s), and they have four young children (15, 13, 11 & 7).  

With each passing week Greg loses more-and-more functionality - laboring to get out bed, remain on his feet, walk and talk.  He undergoes various treatments, some of which sound a lot like torture to me.  Yet somehow he manages to make his way to his pastoral post most every Saturday night & Sunday to encourage his flock.  He also makes his way to the football field many a night & weekend to coach his little Raiders.  Lori has graciously become his primary caregiver ~ a unique gift she has claimed as her very own.  The quote I've shared above is but one of his (and her) powerful beliefs.

How like God to hide a miracle in what might otherwise be deemed a curse.

What do these three stories (and many like them) have in common?  These dear ones are not victims, but victors.  They've allowed God room to bless them, even in their difficult times.  Their afflictions, though weighty & challenging on the human scale, are light & momentary on the spiritual flipside. 

Their trials are gifts because, as Pastor Greg so powerfully tells us, there is value in the struggle.

These are my heroes.

And sometimes miracles hide.


elaine@ peace for the journey said...

Every day, miracles all around us, especially in the tears. I'm glad for the strength of God in each and every situation in our lives.

So glad to read this report.

Rebecca said...

What a challenging report & observation - "miracles hide"...
My husband and I are using Joni's devotional book, More Precious than Silver", each day. Her words have occasionally shamed us - but mainly encouraged us to "up" when life gets messy.

It's good to read you today, Kathleen.

Debbie said...

what an inspirational post. It is just soo true. Miracles DO hide. And when life gets tough, He is the constant to count on. Loved the video and song!

Sonja said...

First... I can't tell you how happy I am to 'see you' here once again! Second, this post is right where I am today as well. Kathleen, I have prayed so often for your former pastor and wife and their family. I see such a picture of God's grace on display through what you have shared. I can't imagine what some people are living through, while I can murmur about the smallest things. Makes me ashamed. But it also makes me pray harder, for God to continue to grace their lives and to show them His faithfulness. I know He is doing that!

Welcome, welcome back!! :)

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

This post reminds me of a song.....what if his blessing come through tear the chorus I think.

It is the same sentiment. God is so purposeful in all He does, using even our deepest heartaches to bring blessing to our lives. We just have to have the wisdom to seek his direction to find the hidden are so right!

Denise said...

Precious, thanks for sharing.

Cheryl Barker said...

Love this post, Kathleen. So encouraging and inspiring. Also very good to remember that the things we see as weighty and difficult now we'll one day see as light and momentary. In the light of His presence, huh?!

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, Powerful post! I've seen Joni too and appreciated her perspective.
I'm headed to your old stompin ground-Mesa for five days-should be fun; I'm ready for sunshine.
Sending big hugs to you!

Nancy said...

I am so glad you are back; it just wasn't the same without you around with your smiling face and words of wisdom.....

Such an inspirational post....I don't know if you have read my post from last week but our family has been through an ordeal and we have already seen silver linings....God is faithful that is for sure.....

I will lbe praying for your Pastor....

Debbie Petras said...

I will never forget the one time I got to meet your Pastor Greg and his wife Lori. What stood out to me so much and left a lasting impression on me was that the first thing they did was to pray. You mentioned a need when you introduced me to them Kathleen. Instead of words of platitude, Greg immediately created a circle as we joined hands and he prayed. Oh how often we don't go to prayer first. It was a lesson for me. And so now I pray for Pastor Greg, Lori, his family and church.

I remember when Joni's accident happened. I've never had the privilege of hearing her speak in person but I've read many of her books and purchased many of her cards that she paints with brush in her teeth. Amazing story!

I am one who has been blessed by God. The pain of infertility has been comforted as the Lord gave me my job of working with 3-4 year old children. Although I never expected to have to return to work, I do believe He was at work in the midst of my challenges. And I'm so thankful.

So glad to see you back here writing. I've missed your wisdom Kathleen.

Love you,

Just a little something from Judy said...

My heart is overflowing with joy witn the fact that I found you posting again. I miss your wisdom, your inspiration, and the way you look at the many difficult and painful situations that you face along the journey of life. I have prayed for your dear friends so often. Loved this post! How can we ever begin to understand the mind and workings of our Wonderful God!

Beth E. said...

Sassy, thank you so much for this timely reminder - to find victory in the midst of defeat, joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of despair...and miracles in the midst of heartbreak.

Awesome post, my friend....