This week was a difficult one for our family. We traveled to Texas on Friday for the graveside service for my newborn great-niece, Ainsley Rose. Her grandfather, a Baptist minister, preached her funeral service, that started out with everyone singing "Jesus Loves Me', followed by "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". It was 98 degrees and while the Texas heat beat down upon us, no one complained. How could we? We were there for an infant's funeral. Our being uncomfortable for a few minutes was nothing compared to what Ainsley Rose's parents would be going through in the days to come. We were all still in shock and Caitlin voiced what we all wanted to say, "This just isn't fair".
During the service, Ainsley's grandfather said, "This is not what we expected or planned for, but it's what we got and as Christians, we have to trust that God will get us through it." He did not say that the days ahead were not going to be difficult. He did not say not to cry or mourn or not ask why this happened. All he said was to trust God and pray for the parents. It would not be the last time this week that I heard this message.
We traveled back from Texas after the service, getting home at 9:30 that night. It had been a very long day and I had to get up a 4 the next morning to take Caitlin to the airport to head back to Cleveland. I had not slept well since Ainsley had been born and just as suddenly taken away and thought since I was so exhausted I would that night. I did not. The more I thought about Josh and Lana, the sadder I became. I could not imagine how they felt now that the funeral was over and Lana was recovering from a C-section and had no baby to hold in her arms. As a mother and grandmother, my heart literally ached for her. After waking at 4 the next morning and making it home, I found myself even more exhausted Saturday. Robby and I stayed in all day, watching television and napping a bit. But still, Josh and Lana were in my every thought.
This morning we got up and got ready for church. It would have been easy to stay home but I knew that if I showed up, God would speak to me. He always does. In Sunday School we had been studying the book of James. The first verse we looked at today was found in James 5:13: "Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray." Our teacher went on to talk about healing and how we pray many times and prayers are not answered the way we expect them to be answered. But that does not mean that we do not need to pray. He actually said that the more we pray, the more we will find ourselves praying. He told us that, as a pastor, he did not have all the answers. He did not understand everything and that he had prayed for many people who were dying that died anyway. This really hit home. Because I had so prayed that little Ainsley would live and she had not. I didn't understand why.
After Sunday School, we headed to the worship service where the lyrics of every song seemed to be about holding on to the strength that God gives us when we do not know where to turn. I sang those songs with tears hung in my throat, knowing that this was just another way that God was speaking to me and trying to let me know that He cared and to lean on Him. We sat down and the sermon began. It was a continuation from last week's sermon: "From Crisis to Peace: The Battle Plan". Wow...How much difference a week makes. The sermon last week was really good but one week ago it was not speaking directly to me; this week it was. It had three points: 1. FIND STRENGTH: For the battle is not yours but God's. Let Him be your strength. 2. MARCH ON: Be still because God is fighting for you. Do the things that have been revealed that work to move on, taking small steps forward a little at a time. 3. WORSHIP ALWAYS: In the midst of our pain and crisis we should worship God. Have FAITH; trust in what God says. Worship can motivate us; it keeps us in the game.
If everything I experienced in church today was not God directly speaking to me, I don't know what would be. I was told to find my strength in God, we have to let God take care of us while continuing to march on and to worship God in the midst of our pain and crisis. I once heard a pastor say this about the storms in our lives: "We are all either going into a storm, currently in a storm or coming out of a storm." I have always thought that was true. The storms of life are continual. They are all around us and often times we find ourselves right in the middle of them. Where do you turn when the storm tosses you about? Although I don't always understand the whys, I always turn to God and He always holds me up.
MAY YOU HAVE A VERY BLESSED SUNDAY!