Spiritual Exercise (Blessed Crisis, Part 2)

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.”                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hebrews 10:23(ESV)

(Today I’m sharing the conclusion of the story that started last week with a predawn phone call that shook our world. There was reason to believe that our daughter and her family had been exposed to a deadly parasite through a baby squirrel their oldest daughter had brought home and played with. The squirrel had died, followed by three of their four guinea pigs. The parasite in question is incurable and, more often than not, fatal to humans.)

Joanna’s husband Sean contacted a friend who was the head of Metro Animal Services. He validated their concern and offered to pay for the dead guinea pigs to be sent away for autopsy. They could have the results Monday.

This was going to be a rough weekend for all of us.

I wanted to rush down to Louisville to be with the family, but when I suggested it, she told me they already had plans for the weekend. So I packed and headed across Michigan for my scheduled speaking engagement.

But as I drove, my mind was consumed with the crisis. When I wasn’t talking to Joanna, I was praying. A part of my regular prayers took on special significance that day. It was the part where I gave my heart to the Lord for the day and spoke out loud (so I could hear myself saying it) the truth about emotions:

Lord, thank You for emotions that confirm the Truth, but I also thank You that Your truth stands on its own and needs no confirmation from me or anybody else.

Thank You for emotions that motivate me to serve and obey You, and thank You for enabling me to serve You, whether I feel like it or not.

I thank You that my emotions don’t get to define me. They don’t get to dictate what I say, do, focus on, believe, or choose. Lord, I choose You as my Lord, my Savior, my King, my Counselor, my Shepherd, my Bridegroom – my everything!

After reminding myself that God was God and Truth was Truth, no matter how I feel, I decided to purposefully worship Him, stress or no stress.

I popped in a CD of worship music and sang God’s praises at the top of my lungs, continuing to give thanks for His promises. Hearing myself sing God’s Word gave me courage.

As strange as it may seem, Joanna’s family spent the weekend camping. It was the wisest thing to do, since all they could do about the crisis was wait, anyway. Out in the beauty of nature she and Sean took each child aside to make sure that child knew the gospel and was assured of eternal life. One by one, they made sure their children understood that their sins had separated them from God, but that He loved them so much He had sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay for those sins. They were reminded that by believing in Him they were forgiven, washed clean, and “born again” into eternal life. Each child gave his/her life to Jesus (again), and the whole family was assured that whatever happened, they were all going to live forever in heaven with the God who loved them so much. The rest of the weekend was spent just “being together and enjoying being alive,” according to Joanna’s text.

Meanwhile, I changed my topic for the author event. Whatever I had planned to say, I felt compelled to share honestly with the attendees what my family was going through. It turned out I was speaking not once to the whole group, but multiple times, to smaller groups throughout the event.

I told each group that God is good, that I trusted Him completely, and that no matter what, I would praise Him for the rest of my life. My daughter, her husband, and all three of their children were in God’s hands, and if He chose to take them from us, I knew they would be in a much better place, where someday I would see them and be with them again, forever. I didn’t particularly like that plan [understatement!], but this wasn’t about me. God is God, and He knows best, whether I agree or not. From the response I received, I knew there were people there who needed to hear it, who were undergoing their own crises.

I have long been a teller of “God stories,” but this was the first time in my life I was telling a story as it was unfolding. I didn’t yet have the part where “God worked it all out!” – the happy ending, tied up in a neat little bow.

Like physical exercise, this spiritual exercise made me stronger. Each time I told my story I found myself speaking with more confidence and certainty, even though I didn’t yet know how the story would end.

I didn’t know that while squirrels can get the parasite from raccoons, they can’t transmit it to humans, only raccoons can. I don’t understand why, and we still don’t know what killed the rodents, but we don’t need to. The important thing is that the tests came out negative, and that Joanna’s family was fine.

(For now.)

Just like today’s pandemic has done on a mass scale, this crisis of faith caused my family to face (again) the fact that our lives are finite. Like it or not, “We’re all gonna die,” sometime, somehow. If a crisis causes us to face this reality and prepare for the inevitable (which we should have been doing all along), then I say, “God bless the crisis.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the priceless gift of life. Forgive us for so often taking it for granted. Thank You for the “wake-up calls,” as unpleasant as they are, that turn our minds and hearts toward You, toward eternity –  that give us “divine perspective.” In Jesus’ name, amen.


33 thoughts on “Spiritual Exercise (Blessed Crisis, Part 2)

  1. It is good that you were able to praise God during this crisis.
    Thank God that your family is O.K.
    This is an excellent message for all of us to hear.
    In times of crisis, or in times of calm, God never changes.
    He is always perfect in all his ways, even those that puzzle us the most.
    We will trust, and not be afraid. 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Ann, well now you have another God story to tell, like you just did! Big difference between a God story you’re still going through and one that you’ve been through. I had one 15 years ago when I was 60, with cancer, where I was told I had a 17% chance of being alive in five years, even after surgery. I don’t recall singing my heart out when I was going through it but I definitely did later. I wasn’t really ready then but I am now. There’s been an awful lot of God’s grace sent my way during the last 15 years, almost seems like a lifetime. Not sure how one even begins to say thank you for something like that. I’m glad that one is behind you and it turned out as it did. Sounds like you were in the class ahead of me. Blessings Ann.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It certainly has a tendency to change one’s perspective. I did have the surgery and was scheduled for chemo and radiation but they said I was one of the fortunate ones and there was no requirement. Fifteen years later and still no trace of cancer. Yes, I’d consider that God’s grace. Blessings Ann.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen! What a wonderful Part 2, Ann. I learnt a little bit more about squirrels today and so thankful that you all went through closer to each other, and Abba. Whew!

    Here’s my takeaway today: “Lord, thank You for emotions that confirm the Truth, but I also thank You that Your truth stands on its own and needs no confirmation from me or anybody else.” Absolutely wonderful.

    I’m so thankful that not only does His truth stand well on its own, but He is the Truth, The Way, the Life 🙌🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can only imagine the tenterhooks you and your family endured that weekend. Thank you for sharing the story and showing what people with faith in Jesus do in such a crisis: they go on with life, they pray, they affirm Truth, they trust–and even worship. I am praising God with you for his protection over your loved ones!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Seems God used this crisis to teach the kids that life is short and we need to know Jesus. I love how you mentioned you guys are trying to also enjoy being alive with the kids; God bless you

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thankful for the content and outcome of part 2❤️ 🙏 I started out teary eyed but praising God for the ending …love that you devoted yourself to prayer and worship rather than fear and worry…what a testimony! And I love how your daughter and her family spent their time in waiting and especially with sharing Jesus’ love with each of the kids❤️ Beautiful!!

    Liked by 1 person

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