Aug 14

How God Transformed a Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope

As I was reading in the book of Hosea about how God promised to “transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope,” I couldn’t help but think of my friend Lauren.

His cancer journey has been an incredible roller coaster with hopes dashed one minute and unexpected new hopes found the next.

I hope the valley of trouble that you or your loved one faces is a lot smoother ride than Lauren’s, but just in case you hit a bunch of bends in the road, I thought you’d like to hear his hope-filled story.

It all started in December of 2006 when Lauren, then 54, was diagnosed with a rare mantle cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He began a course of chemo at nearby Hershey Medical Center, but never really got a good remission and restarted more treatment in July of 2008 after more tumors developed.

In November of that year, he walked his only daughter down the aisle (and unlike his wife, didn’t have to worry about how his hair looked that day!) A couple weeks later he headed back to Hershey for a stem cell transplant, because he still had a lot of active disease.

The transplant involved Lauren receiving an intravenous lethal dose of chemo and then being “rescued” from death with a transfusion of an anonymous donor’s healthy stem cells.

Lauren survived the transplant, but some of the cancer also survived and started growing. The doctors tried a couple of new chemos, which didn’t work and then some radiation, which also failed to stop the tumors growing on his arm.

“Many times I was about to throw in the towel, but my wife kept telling me ‘Don’t give up’!” Lauren recalls. “ When my faith was weak, the faith of others helped hold me up.”

Finally in October 2009, the Hershey doctor said there was one more hope: a donor lymphocyte infusion. (Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it—Lauren hadn’t either.) Basically, it involved putting some of the donor’s white blood cells (lymphocytes) into him to see if they could recognize and destroy the cancer cells.

Lauren was the first to know the procedure was working.

“Within a week I could see the shrinkage in the tumors on my arm,” he recalls.

A second dose was given and the tumors disappeared. Nearly a decade later, Lauren and Joan have welcomed several  grandchildren into their family and he continues to get clean bills of health from Hershey.

 

A few years ago, Lauren and his wife traveled West and stopped in Death Valley.

“I kept thinking about the verse in Psalm 23:
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me’,” recalls Lauren. “I knew I had come through that valley and He was with me.”

As Lauren and I talked on the phone about this day’s writing, he told me he was looking at his favorite picture in his home. It’s a poster of a craggy mountaintop with this inscription underneath: “It’s not the greatness of my faith that moves mountains, but my faith in the greatness of God.”

Don’t worry, my friend, today if your faith is not that big. Just be sure to put it all in a very big God.

I will…transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. Hosea 2:15
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Excerpted from 50 Days of Hope, copyright 2012 by LYNN EIB

 

 

Jul 31

Walking with Friends in the Dark

 

In those nerve-wracking few days between my diagnosis and my surgery, I announced to my husband, “We need a pastor—and I don’t mean you!”

I think he could tell by the distraught look on my face that I was serious, so he called our good friend David Dunn, pastor of a sister church in a nearby town.

In my mind’s eye I can still see the moment David and his wife Carolyn walked into our family room. David headed straight for Ralph and Carolyn moved toward me. Her extended arms enveloped me in a warm embrace as I lay my head on her shoulder and released my soul-aching sobs.

I can’t tell you how long the four of us stood there huddled with only wordless weeping. David and Carolyn did not try to cheer us up in their delightful Maine accents. They did not quote any of the hundreds of Bible verses they knew so well. Neither shared any wisdom garnered from living longer on this earth than either my husband or I had.

Instead…they felt our pain. Their embraces spoke volumes to us: we love you and we are here holding you up as long as you need us.

I count that as my first lesson in learning how to be a patient advocate and walk with a friend in the dark.

My friend Ken says the presence of a friend usually meant much more to him than the words of a friend when
he was facing a diagnosis of tongue cancer  many years ago.

His advice to friends and family of patients facing serious illness is to “just BE!”

“Be a friend,” he says, “Be a shoulder. Be a hugger. Be an asset.  Please just BE there and God will BE there. If you do this, you will BE the giver of the greatest gift a suffering friend needs—presence without fixing; love without agenda,” he adds.

 

 

Helen Keller walked in the dark from the age of 19 months when an illness struck her blind, deaf and dumb.
She later did learn to speak, but lived the rest of her nearly 88 years without benefit of sight or hearing. Still Helen prized friendship so much that she thought it preferable to be blind and have true friends, than be sighted and have none.

Won’t you pray today for God to send true friends into your life? Whether you are the patient or the caregiver, resist the urge to go it alone. You need a loyal friend who will love you regardless of your situation. Swallow your pride and allow people the privilege of walking with you in the dark.

And if you are the caregiver for someone facing a life trial, won’t you please pray to be the kind of friend who offers your presence as the most important gift? Don’t be concerned that you might not know what to say to your hurting friend or family member. Your actions will say much more than your words as Proverbs 17:7 makes clear:

true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times. (The Voice Bible)

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. (The Message Bible paraphrase)

And never forget that God longs to walk with you in the dark and empower you for your journey.

You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
Psalm 18:28-29 New Living Translation

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib
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View in your browser to be able to hear the music video below “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Matt Maher

Jul 17

Are you negotiating with God?

Don’t let this adorable, seemingly innocent smile fool you… she’s a negotiator.  Consider our recent conversation.

ABBY: You have any stuffed animals dat were mommy’s when she was a widdle girl?
ME: I don’t think so. I think I gave them all to her already.
ABBY: Can you just check?
ME: Sure, I can do that.
ABBY: An’ if you find any, can you give ’em to me?
ME: OK, I’ll do that.
ABBY: Good, ’cause Mommy said we no can buy any more stuffed animals.

Uh-oh. Scammed by a preschooler.

I don’t think Abby’s negotiating skills are all that unusual as I believe most children are negotiators–wrangling to get what they want, how and when they want it. By the teenage years the art seems to be perfected. (I recall our middle daughter insisting that because she was old enough to have donated blood, she was old enough to do whatever else she wanted!)

But for many of us, negotiating is something we carry into adulthood and even into our relationship with God. I know I’ve been guilty over the years of trying to bargain with the Almighty. I remember in the spring of 1991 just after finishing my chemo, I knew God was calling me to start a cancer support ministry. Honestly, I just wanted to put cancer behind me and get back to my normal life. Hanging out with cancer patients sounded depressing.

However, a few weeks later I came up with an idea that I figured would suit both God and me: I would start a cancer support group, and God would have to let me live because everyone in that group would need me!

But God reminded me that He doesn’t play “Let’s Make a Deal.” (I was surprised, too,  that He knew that TV show!) Instead, He wanted me to get involved—no guarantees and definitely no negotiating.

As most of you know, I reluctantly started a Cancer Prayer Support Group in October 1991 and it became one of the greatest joys of my life. In fact, many of you reading this are people I met in that group. Eventually, that group led to me being hired by my oncologist, Dr. Marc Hirsh, where I met many, many more of you. And then my role as his patient advocate led to my writing my first book, When God & Cancer Meet, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and allowed me to meet many, many, many more of you.

What a great lesson in non-negotiating. I didn’t need to wring blessings from God’s hands.  He was  not interested in my bargaining chips or attempted cajoling. I just needed to follow where He was leading and leave the rest up to Him. When I did, He proved to me one again that He is able to “accomplish more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

“So I stop all negotiations with the God of all Creation.
You’re bigger than I thought You were.
You’re bigger than I thought You were.
I will rest in the Father’s hands.
Leave the rest in the Father’s hands.”
–Passion “Bigger than I Thought You Were”

(P.S. Don’t miss the music video below–I honestly planned this whole blog around the words because they are so powerful.)

 

Jul 03

So Many Unanswered Questions


Twenty-nine years ago if I had heeded this quote from the creator of Peanuts, I could have saved myself many sleepless nights.

I was pretty consumed back then with trying to figure out how a healthy-eating-and-exercising-mom in her thirties could get cancer. Especially colon cancer for crying out loud! Colonoscopies aren’t even recommended for the average person until age 50.

I never smoked. I wasn’t overweight and worked out regularly at the local Y. I ate a high-fiber, low-fat diet including all our homegrown pesticide-free vegetables. In my mind someone who leaves the skin on their mashed potatoes and who shakes wheat germ on everything should not get colon cancer! Besides my little girls needed their mommy and my husband already watched one wife die a slow, debilitating death.

How? Why? What if?

Any unanswered questions keeping you awake at night?

If you’re trying to figure out exactly why you or your loved one is facing a trial right now, I’m afraid you won’t get any explanations from me. I don’t believe we can make sense of another person’s suffering—only our own. People often want to try anyway and they’ll preach and tell you why it all happened, but they’re not God and they don’t really know. It might make them feel better to think they have it all figured out, but I doubt it will do much for you.

And if you are the loved one of someone facing really difficult circumstances, please don’t tell them “everything happens for a reason.” Such a comment minimizes the sufferer’s feelings and implies that there’s a good, rational justification for what has occurred. I won’t be uttering that phrase to my daughter’s friends who have a 5-year-old  with  spina bifida and  a 7-year-old with an aggressive brain tumor. Instead I will pray that these dear parents, who love their sons and their Lord will run with their sleep-interrupting questions to the One who knows them best and loves them most.

I waited a long time for the Eternal;
He finally knelt down to hear me.
He listened to my weak and whispered cry. Psalm 40:1 The Voice Bible

Hear me, O God, when I cry;
listen to my prayer.
You are the One I will call when pushed to the edge,
when my heart is faint.
Shoulder me to the rock above me. Psalm 60:1-2 The Voice Bible

I’ll never know the answers to your questions or all of mine, but something I read in a book by C.S. Lewis has helped me to be more at peace with not knowing.

It’s found in a scene from The Horse and His Boy, part of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. These classic children’s books (loved by adults, too) are set in the magical land of Narnia, which is ruled by a powerful lion named Aslan (who represents Jesus). At one point Aslan explains to a rich runaway girl named Aravis why some of the awful things that happened to her had to occur. She then asks Aslan what will happen to her stepmother’s slave, who was punished for falling asleep after Aravis had drugged her.

“Will any more harm come to her by what I did?”

“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No-one is told any story but their own.”[1]

 

Are you trying to understand your story? Take your questions to your Heavenly Father, who will either give you the answers you need…or the peace to live with the questions.

[1]C. S. Lewis, Horse and His Boy (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 202.

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer. Copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib.
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Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video below “Hold Me Jesus” by Rich Mullins.

Jun 19

Are You Slamming the Door in God’s Face?

Over the years this quote from author Norman Cousins became a sort of rallying cry for my cancer support group members who were facing especially difficult circumstances. These are the kind of folks who realize shock and disbelief—although understandable reactions to a diagnosis—can’t really do anything to change the situation. So they decide to take the bull by the horns and refuse to give in to any statistics on a piece of paper or doomsday predictions from a doctor’s lips.

So just in case you or your loved one has been given some not-so-great cure odds or perhaps even no odds for a cure, I encourage you to quit fighting against the diagnosis and instead try and fight the verdict. Even if you or your loved one has great survival odds or your trial is something other than cancer, I think you’ll be blessed by today’s story of a patient defying the odds.

My German-born friend Jutta (pronounced YOU-tuh) was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer at the age of 38. It’s an understatement to say that cancer of the pancreas is not a “good” kind of cancer and it’s especially scary when your children are only 6 and 10. But that was the situation in which Jutta found herself in July 2003.

She felt fine and hadn’t even considered that the jaundice she was experiencing might mean she was seriously ill. The day after exploratory surgery discovered a malignant pancreatic tumor already spread to the lymph nodes, Jutta’s surgeon came into her hospital room and told her: “You better get your act together. You have cancer and you’ve only got two years.

Jutta was shocked not only at the diagnosis, but at the less-than-compassionate way the news was delivered.

“It took me at least a month to get over that,” she says. Eventually she decided the doctor’s prediction was only that—a prediction—and she would not live believing it had to come true. Good thing—it is almost 16 years later and Jutta (far right in the photo) has never had a recurrence and remains cancer-free. 

As she reflects on her cancer journey, she says, “You don’t stop living just because you hear the word cancer. That’s the worst thing you can do. Even if my cancer had been stage 4, I would have still set goals and gone for them. I believe that somebody who sets goals lives longer.”

Jutta says she still has a goal of being “an encouragement to other people.” (You can bet I tell every new pancreatic patient I know about her!)

You need to know and believe that cancer–or any illness–is not an automatic death sentence. Doctors do their best at predicting cure rates and odds of survival, but these predictions are just educated guesses. I’m very glad that my oncologist does not regularly dole out predictions about how long patients have to live. He feels those predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies in many patients’ minds. I know zillions of people who have lived longer—some many times longer—than doctors or medical science predicted.

Predictions are just that. They do not have the last word. Please remember today that your and your loved one’s times are in God’s hands and He ­doesn’t need “good odds” to heal.

In the words of the late pastor/author Charles L. Allen:

 “When you say a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”[1]

Lord, Please help us all from slamming the door in Your face; from refusing to believe that you are the God of the unexpected, the improbable and even the impossible. Thank You that You don’t need good odds to do mighty works and that no statistic or white coat has the final word over our lives. Thank you that You have power over everything—over every errant cell in our bodies, over every discouraging word on our lips and over every hopeless thought in our minds. We open the door to You and the healing touch You want to bring to our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

[1] All Things are Possible through Prayer, pg. 51, Charles L. Allen, Revell, 2003.

Be sure to view this in your browser to hear the music video below “All Things Possible” by Mark Schultz

Jun 05

What’s on your to-do list today?

 

My husband has a serious problem.

And what’s worse is the fact he doesn’t even think he has a problem. I have no doubt that when I tell you what his problem is, you’ll be pretty shocked. But perhaps my talking about it in front of hundreds and hundreds of people will help him see what a terrible problem it is.

Better sit down before you read any more.

My husband’s problem (besides eating really blue birthday cake frosting) is  that he doesn’t make to-do lists.I can hear the gasps now. I mean, how can such a wonderful, kind person not make to-do lists? After 45 years of watching me faithfully make these lists and carefully updating them throughout the day, how can he have failed to see the light?

I’ve patiently tried to cure him of this malady by making to-do lists for him. He has responded in one of two ways: either losing the list or failing to cross out any items after he completes them. When I ask him about this latter misstep, he tells me that he knows he has done the task, so he doesn’t need to cross it off.

How can you not cross off a finished task on your to-do list? There is such superb satisfaction in drawing that ink line across the item.

Some of you know exactly what I mean and others of you, I’m afraid, are sympathizing with my husband because you also have a genetic mutation which prevents you from making to-do lists. (And yes, of course I will pray for you–you don’t even need to ask. I’ll just add praying to my to-do list.)

However, my husband is too sweet to tell you (and he doesn’t blog), but I also have a serious problem.

I can get so wrapped up in my to-do list that I may miss something God wants me to do. Or I can be so busy crossing off items that I fail to hear His still small voice.

Here’s what I do to treat my problem. At the top of my to-do list I often write: LOVE LIKE JESUS.  I remind myself that no matter how much–or how little–I accomplish in 24 hours, I always can love like Jesus. While I may have a good plan for my day, He may have a better one. What seems like an interruption or even a roadblock in my day may simply be a chance for me to love and trust Him more. And I may be completing tasks with temporal significance while neglecting ones with eternal value.

So what’s on your to-do list today? How about Ephesians 5:1-2?

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Or as The Message paraphrase puts it:  Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

No matter what else gets done today, choose to LOVE LIKE JESUS.
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(Be sure to open in your browser so you don’t miss the music video below: “Love Like Jesus.”

 

May 22

“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love… The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.” Mother Teresa

 

I’m pretty sure the only thing “small” about Mother Teresa’s life was her stature. Nearly 50 years of sacrificially serving the “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for” hardly seems to qualify as doing “small things.” But there’s certainly no doubt that this diminutive nun, honored in 1979 with the Nobel Peace Prize, was filled with great love for the poorest of India’s poor. 

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you head to Calcutta and take a vow of poverty (although health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays may leave you feeling as if you have!). But I am encouraging you to ask God to show you some small things you can do with great love.  No matter how uncertain or bleak life looks, I guarantee you it will become brighter as you reach out in love to others in need.

Cindi, a cancer survivor who lives in the shadow of recurring granulosa cell tumors, says she wakes up each day “knowing my life is very different than most people.

“I’m either overwhelmed with thankfulness for still being alive six years past my diagnosis or just the opposite, and I am overwhelmed with fear that I might not be here for my daughter in the future,” she explains.

“The way I try to cope with it is to live outside myself,” she says. “It really helps to get out of my own crisis and reach out and love someone else. I try to offer acts of kindness toward others—visits, cards, small gifts.”

Cindi says she doesn’t have money or energy to do big things for others so one day she bought a bunch of $3 plants at Aldi discount grocery and gave them to folks who “needed cheering up.” Another day she and her daughter delivered bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies to friends going through hard times.

“I would say everyone who got them cried,” Cindi recalls. “You think you’re going to bless this person, but you walk away blessed. The Lord has given me several opportunities to encourage others and in so doing, I’m the one who has been encouraged.”

Doing small things with great love “really helps me to come out of my own health crisis,” she adds.

I realize it might not sound logical, but the next time you are feeling anxious or worried or discouraged or overwhelmed, try living outside yourself. Ask God to show you even one small thing you could do with great love for another person who is going through a hard time.

 

“Come be My light” were the words Mother Teresa heard Jesus speak to her heart as He called her to minister to the poor.

I believe He whispers those same words to all of us today—cancer survivors and caregivers included.

Come be My light to someone else feeling the darkness. Come be My light even if you think your light is a small one, it is better than no light at all.  Come be My light because when you shine it with great love, it is sure to be a blessing.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?
I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 The Message Bible 

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer. Copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib.
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Make sure you open this article in your browser so you can enjoy the song below by Kathy Troccoli.

 

 

 

May 08

Do you pray desperate prayers?

 

Have you ever prayed a desperate prayer? You know, the kind where you cry out to God because there is absolutely nothing you can do to “fix” the situation?


I’ve prayed plenty of those.

I remember a time I was trying to get to the grocery store for some needed supplies before a snowstorm hit. As I drove down a small hill near my home I didn’t realize it already was a solid sheet of ice. I started sliding and there was no way I could control my car as the glassy surface spun me sideways. I was on the wrong side of the road and headed straight for a large tree at the pavement’s edge. A crash was inevitable.

So I took my hands off the wheel, lifted them toward Heaven and audibly cried out “Help me, Jesus!”

The car turned 180 degrees and came to rest on the road heading back toward my home. Needless to say, groceries were forgotten and I slowly drove to my house. It was a desperate prayer and God had answered.

I’ve prayed other desperate prayers which God dramatically answered, although not quite as quickly:

Jesus, we need the money to pay this bill.

Father, please spare Beth’s life.

Lord, deliver our friend  from his addiction.

And still other desperate pleas which were never answered the way I hoped:

God, don’t let these dear friends’ marriage fall a part.

Lord, please heal Doris’s brain tumor.

Father, don’t let little Dominic die.

How about you? When was the last time you prayed a desperate prayer? Perhaps you are even praying one today.

“Most of us have been to the emotional depths,” says bestselling author Chris Tiegreen. “We’ve been desperate about a situation–relational, economic, physical, spiritual–and we’ve cried out to God with every ounce of energy we have.”

How did you feel at the time? Embarrassed to be so needy? Worried that you weren’t a very good Christian? Concerned that you were bothering God when He had plenty of other things to take care of?

Did you ever feel like you were worshipping God?

You were.

“Desperate prayers are, in fact, one of the clearest ways for us to honor God,” Tiegreen says. “Saying ‘Lord, I need You,’ acknowledges His importance to us. He is essential, after all, and the desperate soul is not afraid to say so.”

Psalm 42: 1-3 The Voice Bible
My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God,
as a deer thirsts for water,
I long for the True God who lives.
When can I stand before Him and feel His comfort?
Right now I’m 
overwhelmed by my sorrow and pain; 
I can’t stop feasting on my tears.

Psalm 86:6-7
Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD; hear my urgent cry.
I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.”

Psalm 69:1-3
Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water and the floods overwhelm me…
Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful.

Every time you utter a desperate prayer, you admit to God that He is all you really have. So go ahead and cry out to Jesus, as the song below says. Your desperate plea is an act of worship and that is music to His ears.

 

 

Apr 24

Why Does God Allow Suffering?


This has to be one of the most difficult questions we can ask
.

Why do children get cancer?
Why does a young woman fight for her life while an elderly woman prays to die?
Why do brilliant minds get dementia?
Why does one person walk away from an accident unhurt and another is paralyzed for life?
Why do some people have so many trials and others have so few?

Volumes have been written on this topic and I have been enlightened especially by the works of C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. But because neither of them is available today to write this blog 🙂 I’d like to share three reasons God may be allowing suffering in your life or the life of someone you love. (Based on the book For Those Who Hurt by Charles Swindoll, copyright 1977,  published by Multnomah Press.)

Why God Allows Suffering in Our Lives

  1. That we might be prepared to comfort others.
    All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

2.  That we might not trust in ourselves.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we never would live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. We have placed our confidence in him and he will continue to rescue us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

3.  That we might learn to give thanks in all things.
And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11

I certainly can’t make sense of your/your loved one’s suffering for you, but I hope you will ask God if one of these is might be “the reason” for that suffering. I believe that knowing our suffering has a purpose can make it easier to bear. 

Perhaps Shannon Wexelberg’s words in the music video “Different Kind of Miracle” will resonate with your weary heart: If I had my way every time I called to Heaven, would I know Him like I know Him today? While I’ve waited so long, He’s been working all along…Could it be He is using all this in my life? Could it be this prayer I’ve prayed is not quite what He’s after? And I will find He’s done a different kind of miracle in my life.

(Be sure to open in your browser to enjoy.)

Apr 10

Ever feel like you want to run and hide?

My grandchildren never seem to tire of playing hide ‘n’ seek. They love scurrying around to find a “a really good place” while admonishing my husband and me to “keep your eyes closed!” Eventually 4-year-old Abby yells out “Ready!” which makes it pretty easy to follow the sound of her voice to her not-so-hidden special spot.

Two-year-old Jack is the easiest to find because he usually hides in the same place and as soon as “Am-pop” or “Mee-muh” discover him, he squeals with delight. Six-year-old Ben gives us longer to hide as he doesn’t skip counting numbers the way his younger siblings do.

I remember our oldest daughter playing hide ‘n’ seek as a towheaded toddler. As long as she had her head underneath something, she thought she was hidden. Never mind that the rest of her was wriggling in plain sight! And I recall as a young girl playing hide ‘n’ seek with barefoot friends on summer evenings as fireflies lit up the dark sky. I’m pretty certain every generation has its memories of this iconic pastime. 

Of course, we adults still play hide ‘n’ seek, don’t we? We hide from worries we can’t interrupt or fears we can’t face. We may try to hide or emotions or our struggles. Maybe we hope no one finds us out.

Perhaps you’re not hiding, but you sure feel like you want to.

Last summer when my husband was dealing with a serious infection and facing a third knee replacement (yes, I said third), I came down with Lyme disease less than 48 hours before he went into the hospital for removal of his prosthesis. I felt so awful physically and so emotionally drained for my dear husband, and so mentally exhausted trying to get ready to care for an immobilized person for the next couple of months that I  wanted to find a “really good place” to hide. (And hoped that no one came seeking me unless it was a free, live-in maid and nurse!)

I can think of many other instances when life felt so overwhelming, I simply wanted to hide. When I was diagnosed with cancer. When there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills. When my mother died. When dear friends’ marriage crumbled. When people got upset and left our church.

But as Christ-followers we have to face reality and we can’t just run and hide…or can we?

That depends on where we are going to hide.

Hiding is not forbidden, says bestselling author Chris Tiegreen: “God allows it. His only request is that we hide ourselves in Him.”

Psalm 94:22 But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.

Psalm 143:9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.

Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.

Psalm 71:3 Be my rock of safety where I can always hide.

Next time life feels overwhelming, don’t just run away and hide, do as the song below says “Run to Jesus.” And as the second really short song (in wonderful four-part harmony!) reminds us, God is our “rock of ages” and it’s always good to hide ourselves in Him.