In the past two months, I have buried my father and walked my daughter through open-heart surgery. The “windsock in her heart,” as her surgeon described it, that had blood flowing the wrong way, was apparently congenital, but we didn’t discover it till this past July. She is still in the hospital, but she made it great through surgery on Tuesday. So now, in my great relief, I have some time to reflect on the whirlwind that has been my life for the past two months.
My overwhelming sense is that I’ve been covered in the love of God. The Almighty works with precise timing that may not always thrill us in the moment (surgery the day before my first day of classes!?), but in retrospect is always perfect, and designed for our greatest good. That my father died during the summer meant Oregon was beautiful (such beauty heals me), and I could stay as long as Mom needed me and work remotely. As for Alex’s surgery, I wanted it on Thursday instead of Tuesday, but now I’m thankful she will be stronger going into the holiday weekend, when hospital staff may not be the A Team.
My second observation is that I’ve been covered in the love of Christ’s people. I spent a long time last night writing thank-you notes, and I’m sure I’ve failed to remember some folks who have helped us out. . . . And some of the people who have helped don’t even know me or that they helped. They are writers whose books have encouraged me. Three authors of two books especially come to mind.
First is Dave Furman and his new work, Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting (Crossway). Dave, a DTS grad, serves as the senior pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. His wife, Gloria, is a former student of mine.
In 2006, Dave developed a nerve disorder in his arms that renders both of them nearly disabled—to the point where he can count on one hand the number of times he has held his four kids. In fact, they have to button his shirts for him. So he speaks with serious credibility about what does and doesn’t help. His chapter on what not to do is worth the price of the book. Our family has just come out of a season of care-giving for my Dad, and then we have been on the receiving end with our daughter. And I heartily agree with all his advice. Plus, he has a great perspective on suffering.
The other two authors wrote a work that is actually not coming out till October 4 (I received an advance review copy). It’s a B&H release by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible [yes, that’s really her name] Williams titled She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away.
“She Reads Truth” was a community before it became a book. Four years ago, some strangers started reading Scripture daily, staying connected through the hashtag #SheReadsTruth. That gave way to a web site that led to an app. And today thousands open their Bibles and find Jesus in its pages every day.
In the book by the same title, the founders share their stories about everyday life living in light of God’s permanence as the world passes away. Fathers die. Miscarriages happen. (Two stories with which I totally identify.) But God is with us, and he never changes. Nor does his love fade.
What are you going through today? Christ promises, “I will be with you.” And if he is for you, who and what can prevail against you?