This afternoon my husband, kitty, and I shared a relaxing time in our gazebo soaking up the warmth of a late September day…hubby tapping away at his computer, kitty chirping at flies buzzing on the screen, and me musing about what I wanted to write. As I dozed off, I could hear papers rustling in the background as my husband began marking students’ assignments. In his engineering program, students are tested frequently to ensure they are not only learning what is necessary to become successful, but that they also understand how to apply the knowledge to specific situations.
The same theme has been formulating in my mind the past few days as I pondered the significance of a recent “test” I went through. A medical procedure had required me to return for further investigation. At first, I reacted as most human beings do,
“Why? I really don’t need this right now! I’ve had a great summer and now this!?”
After my initial emotional response I began talking myself through the disappointment, fear, and anxiety.
“Why shouldn’t it be you? This has happened. You can choose to continue in this frame of mind and propel yourself backward into a state of worrisome existence, sleepless nights, irritability, and despondence. OR, you can choose to view this experience as an opportunity to put into practice the skills you have learned over the past few months.”
I chose the latter!
- I started focusing on all the positive factors that I know to be true.
- I thanked God for the availability and affordability of health care in our country.
- I praised Him for His faithfulness to me in the past.
- I thanked my doctor for calling to encourage me before the test
- I was grateful for the circle of friends that surround me
- I poured my energy into studying and preparing for women’s ministry
- I looked forward to our weekend away in Toronto
- I rejoiced after my doctor called the day we left to say all was normal
- I enjoyed our getaway and had fun with family and friends
- I quickly concluded this was a test from God and I had passed it
- I now have more confidence to face future tests
In our women’s group, some of us are doing the study Faithful, Abundant, True[i]. One passage of Scripture that really spoke more succinctly to me is Hebrews 10:38-39,
“But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (NASB)
In the study guide it says,
“…preserving the soul could also be translated possessing the soul…the phrase possessing the soul conveys a distinct idea. The term pictures a person controlling his or her emotions and thoughts.
This means if you cling to God’s Word – believe Him, obey Him, not turn away no matter how difficult it gets – you will be able to preserve, to possess your soul. Your soul is what makes you, you. Faith wins! It keeps your heart and mind under control.”[ii]
When I read this, I realized it is the principle truth I had chosen to apply to my own situation. In throwing my burden on God’s faithfulness as well as focusing on applying newly learned skills for coping with fear and anxiety, I was able to maintain a calmer frame-of-mind. I preserved my soul. In doing so, I experienced God’s peace and joy in the midst of what could have led to a personal setback.
George Mueller, well known for his incredible faith in God and for establishing orphanages in England during the 19th century, said,
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” And…
“To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”[iii]
I realize the more I learn the greater is my responsibility to be accountable for what I have been given. God has entrusted me with experiences, skills, and training that develop wisdom to guide me through each of life’s tests and trials. How I answer to these challenges signifies the strength of my faith in the One who loves and cares for me.
Until next time,