By: Cheri Fuller
"When we are lost in the greatness of God,
we realize that there is no physical, emotional, or social loss so great that God cannot bring good out of it and compensate us in the next life."
It was the dead of winter, and we were living in Yarmouth, Maine. Discouragement was trying to wrap itself around my neck like ivy twining around a house—ivy growing so thick that if left untamed could cover the brick and windows and shut out the light. A cold blanket of worry covered me, draining me of energy. I felt tired, anxious, and burdened.
My husband, Holmes, was out of work and depressed. Day after day he interviewed for jobs and got rejections. Our savings was long gone. I was afraid we couldn’t pay the mounting bills. Some days I was worried that Holmes was going to give up; he seemed to have lost hope in life. He was afraid we’d never have the money to return to our home in Oklahoma since there seemed no way financially.
The long-term effects of stress and worry were taking their toll. Normally optimistic and able to encourage my somewhat melancholy spouse, I was struggling. I kept reading my Bible and talking to God in this wilderness season, but my eyes kept landing on the worrisome circumstances. I poured out my heart to Him but heard no answers.
Finally one night I shared with the people in our Monday night Bible study group how trying a time it was for us. Although they prayed for us, things only got worse financially and my worries multiplied. A few weeks later one of the women took me aside and said, “Cheri, no matter how hard things are, you must praise and thank God in the midst of your circumstances. Focus on Him, not your troubles. That’s not a message from me but from my missionary friend Anne. She wants you to know she’s praying for you.”
Are you kidding? I wanted to say. Thank and praise God when I feel so worried and down about things? I’d heard Linda talk about this elderly missionary woman who’d served in China before World War II and survived a cruel Japanese prison camp, but I had never met her. I knew she was right and it is what the Bible said, but it was a harsh message to hear in that particular moment. I always thought You wanted genuine, not fake praise, Lord, and I want to be real with You. How can I rejoice in You and not drown in the circumstances we’re in?
I pondered that question all week, trying to force or will myself to praise God, but I failed miserably. I wanted to be faithful in this but felt overwhelmed by my feelings and drained from trying to bolster my depressed husband. Falling deeper in discouragement and as anxious as ever, I asked Linda the next week if I could go with her on her weekly trip to see Anne. I thought if anyone could shed some light on my problems, maybe this wise missionary could.
Driving along that bitter cold December day, we saw Anne and her Scottish nurse, Netta’s, apartment on the top of the hill. As we walked in, I saw a white-haired woman in a burgundy sweater lying in a recliner, legs propped up and covered with a small green blanket. Print house shoes peeked out from the blanket.
Above the old missionary hung a plaque with the words Let Us Exalt the Lord Together. Another said, Jesus First. A humidifier hummed. After taking our coats, Netta and Linda went into the other room to wrap Christmas packages for mailing to missionaries they supported. Although they had very little financially, they regularly gave to missionaries and were remembering each with a scripture calendar this year.
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”