Are you in the fight of your life? Are you fighting for your marriage, to carry your baby with a terminal diagnosis to term, to beat cancer, to survive your grief, to manage your mental illness? There are times in life when all the normal worries and cares comes crashing down, and only one thing really matters: survival. If that’s where you are, I want to encourage you today. I want to give you some truths to hold tightly in your fists as the waves wash over you. I want to hold your face in my hands and say, “You can do this.”
Before you write off such a simple encouragement, know this: I don’t do trite. Life’s kicked me in the gut a few too many times to offer up trite hors d’oevres when you need the full meal deal. When I say “you can do this,” I mean one simple, amazing truth:
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still. Exodus 14:14
He can do this through you.
I understand that some days are too big to take in all at once.
There have been hard days that have hammered me straight through the ground. They took me all at once.
There have been nights of sitting up in bed, wondering if we made the right call. Wondering where God is. Wondering if anyone else in the history of humankind has ever felt this sick with grief and worry and panic.
There were nights in hospitals. Nights up all night. Nights laying next to a crib listening to our heart baby take every breath. Nights praying with every fiber for a reprieve, for a rest, for a miracle. Nights that never wanted to end.
And then there is this one day last October: just another Friday, after all of those long, long nights. There is this day when we walk into the children’s hospital holding the hand of our four year old who goes to school and plays with friends and already knows his alphabet. We walk him into the heart unit, where I carried him in my arms when he was an infant and shook with fear while they read his echo. Where I paced and cried because the weight of waiting was stealing my breath in that 10×10 room. Where I wondered if I would even survive this because the pain of not knowing, of watching every day for signs of heart failure, of keeping him warm because his little heart couldn’t, felt like it was splintering me apart.Do not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. Deuteronomy 3:22
There is this day when that baby who couldn’t stay warm walks himself in to the ultrasound room and asks for a lollipop. He lies down on the bed shirtless, oblivious to his zipper scar on display.
I sit in the dark on the other side of the room. He doesn’t need me in the bed with him anymore, he says. I don’t shake or cry. I’m filled with peace, even though that makes no sense. Even though the hours of fear and suspense I’ve spent in this very room can move me to tears with the remembering. Instead, I write emails and edit blog posts. I work purposefully as the tech runs her wand over the scarred chest of our purpose-born child.One of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, as he promised you. Joshua 23:10
We wait for the doctor, and assure Samuel time and time again he will not get a shot today. We wait for the doctor who is reading his echo, and we laugh at this four year old boy who loves to perform for us in these small waiting rooms he’s grown up in.
We shake the doctor’s hand, and he sits down.
“I couldn’t ask for it to be better,” he tells us. “I will miss you guys. Send pictures, okay? We will see you in a year.”
And this death sentence, this fight, this unrelenting breaking we said yes to four and a half years ago?
Before we knew what the answer would be?
Before we knew if God would answer our prayers?
When we wondered if it would be prudent to go ahead and pick out another casket, set aside money for another funeral?
(Yes, we had that conversation. We really did.)
But we decided to buy him baby clothes instead.
We bought baby clothes for the baby they said wouldn’t be born alive.
We bought bags of them.
We decided TO FIGHT, fool-hardy as we may have appeared to the social worker who mailed us hospice papers.
And it almost broke us.
But God walked with us, every step.
And in all of our pain, we found not just faith.
We found rock-solid ground upon which to build our family.
We found the God of Caleb and Joshua, the God of Gideon, the God of David, of Habakkuk, of Mary Magdalene.
We felt His glory pass by as He hid us away in the rock.
We learned how great He is no matter how weak we are.
We learned that He is always good,
always our Father,
You see, friend, when the fight comes to your doorstep, you can refuse it. You can ignore it, shrink away from it. You can let your fear define you. You can let the monster on your stoop overshadow until you have lost without even taking a step forward.Do not lose heart, or be afraid, or panic, or be in dread of them; for it is the Lord your God who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory.Deuteronomy 20:3-4
Or, you can open your front door and fight. You can fight in the name of the God who saves, heals, provides, comforts, and directs. You can stand secure in the knowledge that He is with you wherever you go. You can rush forward, fool-hardy to the world, wisened by His promises.
And you can falter, break, lash out, scream into the night. You can do it all wrong because it is so very scary. But you can know, even in your humanity, even in your imperfect trust, He holds you. And He will never let go.
So go on, friend. Open the door. You can rush straight into battle because He’s fighting for you. He’s carrying you, from the front stoop all the way through.
Godspeed. Make sure to come back and tell me your war stories! Or, rather, His story poured out into your life.
Believing in our Warrior God,