I’m so grateful for your faithfulness to Soar With Eagles, especially this year when, due to many pressing obligations, I’ve not been able to post articles regularly. I want to say that you can expect two articles per week from now on, but I’m learning, once again, that life is unpredictable, and sometimes we need to recognize that there is only so much we can do.
Our great joy at the marriage of our daughter in October was interrupted several weeks later by the news of a relative’s less-than-glowing diagnosis. Although I’m not at liberty to divulge more, our lives have been jarred by the realities of life. Once again we recognize that God provides no crystal ball to reveal the future. Unforeseen adversity happens and lives are changed forever.
Although good things happen to each of us, it’s the bad things that unsettle us and force us, if we are smart, to examine our lives. Where is God? Am I being punished? Why did He allow this happen? What is His plan for me, for my family?
When my family and I underwent two years of unemployment, we tackled each of these tough questions. And we learned some very important life lessons. Lessons that abundantly prepared us for our future.
So, having spent time in the fiery furnace—and having successfully come through it—I want to share the truths of overcoming the worst things that can ever happen to each of us. When adversity strikes, when our lives are joyless, our first question should always be: Lord, what do you want me to learn through this situation? He’s waiting to give you the answers that will get you through all you ever face on this earth.
Although unseen, God is right here next to me, to you, through every millisecond of each day. He is with us on good days, bad days, and the ugly days that shatter our lives.
While it’s natural to wonder if our adversity is actually punishment, the truth is that God is not a God of punishment. No, He is a God who loves us so much that He will allow bad things to happen to us as a means of allowing us to draw closer to Him. A life lived in closeness to God is one that can weather all storms.
Adversity is actually an opportunity to draw close to God.
While God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, He does allow them. Because the truth is that for many of us, the only time we seek God is when we are resoundingly knocked down and out. Think how you’d feel if the only time your child or spouse has time for you is when they need something from you. Without question, we want our beloveds to come to us all of the time. It’s no different with God.
His plan for our lives is simple: we are put on this earth not to be self-serving, but to serve God. And every one of us falls short in this. For people who have never gotten to know God, it’s a shock to learn that the real purpose of our life on earth is not to work hard and accumulate wealth, but to serve and glorify the One who created us.
I’ve learned that the worst times of my life were actually the best times of my life because that was when I sought God and found Him waiting for me.
You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
To God be the Glory
I looked at the kitchen clock and cringed when I saw it was after 7 p.m. My daughter always calls me when she leaves work, but tonight, I hadn’t heard from her. Something’s not right. I took a second look at the clock and wondered what I should do. I’d better call.
The voice on the other end was in utter distress, and my stomach knotted. “Meg?”
“Yes, Mom,” she sobbed.
“Are you all right, honey?” My heart was in my throat while I waited for her answer.
My daughter’s voice disintegrated into gut-wrenching sobs and indistinguishable words. “Meg, what’s wrong? I can’t understand you.”
“It’s my friend Sarah’s dog, Winston. H-e-’s d-y-i-n-g.”
“I’m at Sarah’s house. I left work and came right over. Poor Winston is dying and we’re waiting for the vet to come here and put Winston down. Winston is all Sarah has, and I couldn’t let Sarah go through this alone.”
Sarah and Megan work in the same office. I recalled how Sarah took my daughter under her wing when Megan began working there—so far from her home and family. “No, you have to be there with her and Winston. How is Sarah?”
“She’s devastated. She can’t stop crying and neither can I. Winston is such a good dog.”
“What’s Winston doing?” The mournful cries in the background made me choke up.
“He’s just lying here looking at us. We’re petting him. Sarah’s telling him that she loves him.” I swallowed hard, envisioning the scene based on the sounds.
“Oh, Meg. Tell Sarah how sorry I am about Winston. I know she appreciates you being there with her.”
“She does, Mom. This is so hard. I couldn’t let Sarah be here alone. I wouldn’t want to be alone if this was my dog.”
“You are a true friend, Megan. The best. You’re doing what’s right, and I’m proud of you. Call me when you get home. And please give Sarah a hug for me.”
I hung up the phone and sunk into a chair. Several tears ran down my cheeks.
When Megan took her first job and moved nine hours away from us, Sarah befriended her and looked out after my daughter. I was relieved to know that my daughter had a nearby friend.
Now, after Megan spent a full day at work, barely taking time for lunch, she left the office late. Skipping supper, Megan hurried to her friend’s house so Sarah wouldn’t be alone when her faithful Winston breathed his last.
The words from Luke 6:31 came to me: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Oh, Sarah, Meg, we all need friends like you.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photograph by Megan Howerter © 2012
The medical school graduation I attended recently put me in the company of giants – extraordinary people who refuse to quit no matter what their situation may be. Dr. Robert’s story is one I will never forget.
While my family and I were in our hotel room getting dressed for graduation, an alarm sounded. Fearing it might be a fire, my husband left the room to check into the matter and returned ashen-faced. A man several rooms down the hall from us had experienced a severe heart attack. Paramedics and police were swarming the hallway.
We began praying for the man and his family, not knowing who they were or the purpose of their visit.
After the alarm stopped and the ambulance and police left the hotel, we stepped into the elevator along with three women for the ride to the lobby. It was obvious the women, in dress clothes, were struggling for composure. The older woman turned to the younger two and said, “Are you alright?” They barely nodded, shock engraved on their pale faces.
I asked if they were the family of the gentleman who had suffered the heart attack. They were. We learned that the gentleman had died and, worse, that he was the father of one of the graduating medical school students.
Two hours. If the gentleman had lived only two more hours, he would have watched his son graduate from medical school and officially become a doctor.
This dad was present for the birth of his son. This father guided his offspring through childhood, watched him graduate from high school and college, and then saw his boy pursue his dream of being a physician, only to miss the moment when his son was hooded and declared “Dr. Robert” by two hours. One hundred and twenty minutes.
Inside their hotel room, Robert began emergency life-saving procedures on his father while another family member called paramedics. But neither Robert nor the paramedics could save him. It was simply the father’s time to pass from this world into the next.
The father’s wife and three sons were devastated and in indescribable shock. Numerous family members had traveled hundreds of miles to watch their son, brother, grandson, nephew, and cousin graduate from medical school. A trip that began with joy and anticipation ended suddenly with horror and disbelief.
What would most people have done in this situation once their husband/father/son/brother/uncle passed on? Would they have stayed in their hotel rooms and skipped the ceremony, too consumed with grief to attend graduation?
Not Robert’s family.
As the paramedics wheeled the father’s body into the ambulance, the grieving family quickly held a meeting. They had a singularity of focus and were in complete agreement: the family had come here for one purpose, that of watching Robert graduate from medical school.
They all knew that Robert’s father would not want them to quit. Not now. He would insist that every one of them attend Robert’s graduation, the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice.
So, dressing up, putting on brave faces, arms intertwined for support, the entire family arrived on time at the graduation hall and watched Robert become Dr. Robert.
On stage as Robert was hooded and declared a doctor of medicine, I realized that God was giving me the privilege of watching extraordinary people. People with the ability to continue in the face of heart-breaking adversity where so many others would quit.
Every person in that graduation hall who knew what had transpired shortly before the ceremony comprehended that they were in the company of magnificent human beings. Giants among mortals.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
Are you in a dark place? A place without lightbulbs? Even if you had one, it wouldn’t work in this dungeon.
Are you grieving something? A diagnosis of cancer? The end of your marriage? The poor choices of your child? The death of a loved one? The loss of your job?
These are the things that can stomp the life, the joy right out of a person. Yes, even you. Even me.
Are you thinking that Hell is actually a place here on earth, not below it? I tell you, friend, that I am right there with you.
But I’m not going to stay there. And do you know why?
Because God is extending His hand to me. He is reaching out to me. He wants me to grab hold and allow Him to pull me out of this life-sucking situation.
God isn’t called “The Great Comforter,” “The Great Healer” for nothing. No, God is ever-present – even in the worst of times. When misery raises its ugly head, we have a God who never left our side.
Our worst situations are opportunities to become close to God. You see, God wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. We can’t have that when other things have our primary focus.
We were placed on this earth to serve God. Not ourselves.
It’s a choice we make. Simply put, you either choose God or you don’t. What is the alternative to not choosing God? It’s choosing Satan. Makes the choice obvious now, doesn’t it?
So, I’m going to take God’s outreached Hand. I’m going to read His Words. I’m going to believe His Promises.
Because if I don’t, as sure as the seasons change, I’m going to stay in this dark place. This place that weighs heavily on a person’s chest.
No, I don’t want a lifetime of that. Or even a day of that.
I’m choosing joy. What about you?
“God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.
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TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
I’ve learned many lessons the past several days.
The most important one is understanding what a gift it is to family members to know that their loved one accepted Christ as their Savior before their death.
The comfort this knowledge brings surpasses the kindest gestures of sympathy.
As many of you know, my only nephew passed away last week. Brandon McDonough was thirty years old, the only child of my sister Pamela and brother-in-law, Terrence.
The sudden death of a family member is always shocking. The death of one’s child – and an only child – is beyond heartbreaking.
In the midst of grief, our family knew with certainty where Brandon was. Yes, his body was laid out before us. But most importantly, his soul was already safe and content in Heaven.
While we cried, we also rejoiced. Knowing that Brandon was at The Party. In the presence of his Creator. Surrounded by grandparents and relatives and friends who had passed before him.
After the last comforter left, my sister spoke of never being able to see her son married, of never being able to have grandchildren.
But what she said next, realized the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Pamela expressed her desire that God would bring young people into her life in the future. People that she might be able to help in some way. She spoke of her hope to make a difference in the life of someone who is struggling or in need of encouragement.
It is just as I have long thought. That in the midst of things that are bad, there is also good.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46: 1-3.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More