God’s Encouragement

After an unexpected trip to the emergency room, we returned home, weary but grateful.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Mom,” my son said as he hurried off to work.

“Me, too. Thanks for helping me.”

The symptoms of GERD often mirror the symptoms of a heart attack, so my doctor has told me, “Always get it checked out. You might think it’s GERD, but you need to be sure. Go to emergency and let them check your heart.”

While grateful that this latest episode did not require any hospitalization or further tests, I also struggled to understand. Discouragement hit me like a heavy mallet. Why? I had been so careful with my diet, eating slowly my small meals every day and staying away from anything that might cause a digestive upset.

Why did this happen when I had almost paid off the medical bills from the last episode? Now more bills would pile into my mailbox, notices from each of the professionals who tested me, talked to me or hooked me up to expensive machines. And how could I prevent it from happening again, this delicate balance between what I put in my mouth and how my body digests it?

I decided to walk around the back yard. Anything to free myself from the questions, to escape from the receipts and reminders of what had just happened.

God, I need some encouragement, please. For some reason, you have allowed this to happen and although I thank you it wasn’t worse – now I’ll be faced with enormous bills again. I’ll have to call and set up payment schedules with each place and try to pay them off a little at a time, every month, forever. Please, God, I need something to encourage me.

I tried my usual tactics of repeating Bible verses and singing praise songs. But they didn’t work. Somehow anything I tried to manufacture fell as flat as the stones in my garden.

Another trip around the back yard and another. Tears of despair and wondering if life was ever going to get better. Must I always and always struggle? Was this another test to see if I would trust God?

I do trust you, and I know you are faithful. I’m just tired of having to barely manage financially, and I don’t know what I ate that set me up for this again.

Then on another lap, I picked up a stick that had fallen from the wintering of my trees. I broke it into several small pieces and decided to put it on top of Ivory’s grave – my sweet Siamese who passed over the rainbow bridge three years ago. I miss her still.

tulipsAs I bent over, I saw the tiny green spires of tulips, trying to poke themselves through mulch and into the sunshine. Tulips. The first signs of spring.

It was as if a fresh breeze lifted my worries and carried them to another part of the city.

God still made tulips grow through the tough branches of winter. He knew how to bring color to brown patches of earth and splash hope on my dreary day. He heard my prayer for encouragement and followed me around the yard, pointed out the stick and led me to place it on my Ivory’s grave where I would see his sign – his precious reminder that he cared.

Yes, the bills will come and somehow they will have to be paid. Yes, I still struggle with digestive issues and fight this delicate balance of what and how to eat.

But God is greater than it all and he is still able to bring life out of death, hope out of worry and faith out of fear.

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