I was sitting on the couch next to my 8 year old son, rubbing his back, wiping his brow and encouraging him softly, “Don’t fight it. Just open your mouth and let it come. You’re ok.” Nathan was pale, beads of sweat on his wrinkled brow were starting to slide down his temple. As he crouched over a big bowl, he let out a faint, anxious moan and his body trembled. Everyone in the family had already succumbed to this nasty stomach virus and his fears were now a reality. There was nothing I could do but try to comfort him with these words and hold him as he experienced in his little body the ravages of this heinous virus. Although I could see the effects it was having on him, he was alone in the full experience. I tried as best I could to address the fear and pain he was enduring, hoping to help him go through this temporary season of suffering. My mind wandered to a short time ago, when I found myself doing and saying almost the same things to my 24 year old daughter. She had honored me with the privilege of attending the birth of her second child. As the time grew near for her to give birth, one contraction on top of the other, her body straining to accomplish the overwhelming and glorious task of delivering another human being into the world, I rubbed her back, wiped her brow and sought to comfort her with my words, “Don’t fight it. Just relax your body and let the contractions come. You’re doing great.” Again, though I could see the outward manifestation of the contractions, she was alone in the full experience of this temporary season of suffering. Both my son and my daughter needed to go through this time. Although there were people around to help and encourage them, the reality was, they were alone in the battle. The strength to endure and overcome had to come from within them.
The Bible tells us that there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to be sick and a time to be healed, a time to be broken and a time to be made whole, a time for testing and a time of achieving. All of these times and seasons are interrelated and have purpose. They are a necessary part of this temporal life and the purpose is to prepare us for our eternal home. They come in pairs, opposite ends on a spectrum with “life” happening in between. Although these times and seasons may carry the same titles, each one is unique and specific to the individual. They are God’s tailored lesson plans, used by Him to tutor, train and guide us through spiritual boot camp and onward as He transforms us from frail children into powerful warriors. During the intense seasons there will inevitably be times of isolation. But this is not a bad thing, IF we allow it to accomplish its purpose. Jesus, when he was tested, separated himself for a time. And when he had entered a season of weariness, he again isolated himself for a time of prayer. It was during these times that he was refreshed and strengthened for the times ahead. As we read about these various times in Christ’s life, we see a reoccurring pattern. He didn’t turn inward for help, but upward. He placed himself in His Father’s hands and rested in the truth of His word. When you are isolated, either by our own making or forced into it by circumstances, don’t fight it. Settle into this season with determination to turn your eyes toward heaven. Allow this season to teach you anew how to fully trust in your savior and to allow him to be your strength and shield. He has promised us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised us that his strength will flow through our weaknesses. Like Paul, we must learn, no matter what state we are in, to be content and that will only come as we humble ourselves and trust in the Lord for he gives grace to the humble. So, if you will allow me, let me rub your back and wipe your brow with these encouraging words:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. ‚ÄčYou hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139
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