Christina's life was characterized by joy--but it was a joy that she fought for every day. She spent much time with her Lord Jesus letting Him speak to her heart and fill her up with His joy and peace. In the middle of April (two weeks into Hospice care), we had a very difficult evening. Christina was obviously not experiencing peace or joy. She was despondent over needing so much help. She was discouraged about letting people down. We tried and tried to assure her that there is nowhere else we would rather be. Taking care of her was a supreme privilege. She wasn't buying any of it. She went to bed with great sadness in her heart.
That night, eyes wide open, no sleep coming, God spoke to my heart. He said that this despair was not part of what He wanted for Christina and I was not to wait for her to figure it out. He told me to get up and battle for my daughter. I moved from little Isaiah's room to the living room and opened my Bible.
My prayer was simple. "You need to show me how to battle this cloud that is hanging over Christina. Please show me your truth in your Word." The first place He took me was to Song of Solomon. Our dear friend, Peter, had read this scripture on one of our worship nights. Song of Solomon 2:10, 13
"Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away,
for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone...
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away."
This was a very personal invitation from the lover of her soul. Christina felt His call very strongly and she longed to see His face.
The second scripture I turned to was 2 Corinthians 4 and 5. Here are a few highlights from that middle of the night reading.
2 Cor. 4:14 We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
We know!!! No room for doubt here.
2 Cor. 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
We do not lose heart!!! Even when our bodies are failing in multiple ways. When we can't see, or move, or walk, or eat, or even think clearly--we do not lose heart. Why? Because something much more significant is happening. Our inner self--the part that lives forever is being made new. Our inner self is learning and growing and talking to Jesus in new and closer ways.
2 Cor. 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
I have believed for a long time that trials are good. We seek God. We need Him. We grow. We become more and more like Him. But here was another truth that struck me with new freshness. Our trials aren't just growing us up, our trials are doing something in eternity. Each trial is achieving something glorious and weighty in eternity. Each painful day, each scattered thought, each moment of surrender was producing something in eternity that Christina was about to enjoy.
2 Cor. 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Focusing on Christina's failing health, her weak body, her tired brain, was not God's best. He wanted us to focus on the unseen. The eternal. The weight of glory. The inner renewing. All that we can see with our eyes is temporary. What we see feels so compelling because it is so obvious. It was time for us to "gaze" at the unseen, eternal truth.
2 Cor 5:4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."
Christina did not have a death wish (we do not wish to be unclothed). She had a life wish (but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling). The physical nature of our body dying is (for the Christian) nothing more than being swallowed up by life. Death is a defeated foe for the Christian. John 3:16 ends with "whoever believes in Him, will never die but have eternal life."
2 Cor. 5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Hmmm. God made us for this very purpose. To be with Him. To be swallowed up by life. I thought of all the roles we think God made us for--a wife, a mother, a friend, a worker in the church, etc. Those are just the places we live out our lives in Jesus, but the overriding purpose of our journey is to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling--swallowed up by life.
2 Cor. 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Confident? Always confident? Those are strong words. Is it really OK to prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord? It was truth for Paul.
Those were words Christina needed to ponder. We do not lose heart. Confident. Eternal weight of glory. Living by faith, not sight. Made for the purpose of being with God.
I prayed and went back to bed with joy in my heart. I woke early and prayed for an opportunity while the house was still quiet to share these things with Christina. The next thing I knew, Christina was coming down the hall, up very early, wanting to talk. We sat down and worked through all this truth.
She fully responded to the truth of God's word. The Sword of the Spirt which is the Word of God had cut through her despair. Her countenance physically altered. She relaxed. She was filled with joy once again. She said, "Now that is life. The idea that my physical healing is the only acceptable answer to this situation makes me feel like I am being strangled."
I believe Christina felt called to join Jesus. She had prayed for healing many times and had been prayed for many times. She was absolutely at peace with the fact that there may be a greater glory as she journeyed toward Jesus, toward heaven, toward her perfect healing. She used that phrase later--swallowed up by life--it defined her.
Everyone who came through the door that day heard this scripture. God sent others with more truth from the Word. The cloud was gone and it did not return.
God's truth prevailed.
His peace settled in.
His joy was pervasive.