July 1, 2014

Joy in the Midst of Trial

When I was about eight years old, at the first youth camp I ever attended, I gave my life to the Lord. I made a conscious decision to follow Him, not just because that was what I had been raised to do, but because I wanted to serve the Lord and make Heaven my home.

Sometime later, during special meetings in our Eureka, California, church, the Lord sanctified me. We were singing “I Surrender All,” and I knelt down at a pew and poured out my heart to God. I had been struggling with some feelings against a couple of individuals, and I remember realizing as we drove home that all those feelings were gone. It struck me that sanctification really is a definite experience—a second work of grace that cleanses the heart.

In my last year of high school, I served as a counselor at youth camp. At the chapel service on the final night, I felt the need to pray for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Lord came down as I sought Him and He wonderfully filled me. I am so thankful that God gave me the experiences I needed, knowing what was ahead for me.

In some ways up to that time I had been kind of “coddled” as a Christian. I had good Christian parents, and never had a lot of problems to deal with growing up. When I was twenty, I married James, and I am grateful for the joy that comes from serving the Lord with my husband.

Five years after we were married, we had our son, Caleb. Life was good. However, when Caleb was about eighteen months old, the doctor noticed something unusual with his eyes, so they scheduled an MRI. Initially the medical staff said, “It’s usually nothing; they grow out of it,” but later they called and said we needed to meet with a neurologist. At that appointment we were told, “Your son has a medical condition called lipodystrophy. We do not know a lot about it but it is degenerative. We cannot tell you how long your son will live—it might be two years, or you could have him until middle age.”

I remember sitting there in shock, trying to process what we had heard. I thought, Lord, how could this be? My little boy is so perfect, and he loves You already. We’ve been serving You. Why is this happening? At the same time, deep in my heart I knew the Lord was on our side. I am so thankful that I had a spiritual foundation that helped me to hang on to God during that time.

In the days and weeks that followed, God was with us. We didn’t notice any symptoms in Caleb right away, except for his eyes. In fact, we thought maybe the doctors had been wrong in their diagnosis. After a couple of years, we had another little boy, Ryan. Then, when Ryan was a year-and-a-half old, he was diagnosed with the same disease. Through all the emotions during that time, I never questioned my faith or wondered if God really loved me. When life spins out of control and circumstances affect your children, it is heartbreaking, but God gave me an assurance that He was there, and I just wanted to draw closer to Him. Perhaps I would not get any answers, but I knew God was by our side.

As they grew, the boys began to show increasing signs of their medical condition. At times I felt I could not take it anymore, but each time I would begin to feel overwhelmed, I would say in my heart, “Lord, I trust You.” I remember telling my pastor at one point, “I have nothing to be joyful about.” He told me, “Joy will come.” He was right. God has given me so much joy in my life! He gave me supportive parents and family, and wonderful people in the family of God who have been there to say the right things and offer encouragement. We have never felt alone; there is always someone to pray with us and for us.

The past seven years have not been easy, but God is faithful. He knows just what we need and has provided in ways that we could not have imagined. God did not promise us an easy road, but He said He would be with us and would hold us up in every time of need. He has certainly done that for us. I can say with all of my heart that it has been worth it to keep our hands in God’s hand. I know He will take us through, and at the end of the road, we will be with Him!

apostolic faith magazine