It's hard to believe we've been out of the hospital adjusting to our new 'normal' for an entire month. Some days are good, some days are extraordinarily hard, some days I don't even remember - but God is faithful to sustain me, whether it's through His Word, The Holy Spirit, or through His people who come along side of us and make our burdens feel so much lighter. Taking things day by day is really the only way I can function right now. Thinking about the 'what-ifs' and 'maybes' of an uncertain future (or even tomorrow) is a waste of time and energy that I do not have to spare. It's also otherwise known as 'worry' - a symptom of not trusting in the One who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It's a daily battle to choose the truth over a lie, hope over despair, and perseverance over self-pity. And if I allow Him, God is always faithful to renew my spirit and give me the strength to win that battle.
This week I recalled a passage of scripture that I had memorized as a kid, but never really applied to my life. It actually came to my mind as I was running (something I've picked up as a stress-management technique) one evening after one of those 'extraordinarily hard' days. When I start to feel like I'm going to die (which is embarrassingly quick), I tell myself to just keep moving forward - just keep breathing - just keep putting one foot in front of the other - just keep my eyes on the prize of finishing strong. This may seem like a silly parallel, but it makes me think of this race we have just begun. When I look at the long road ahead, it can be overwhelming and defeating. But when I keep my eye on the prize - it changes everything.
"And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." Hebrews 12:1b-2a
In this race, the prize is Jesus. When Satan tempts me to despair, I only have to remember why we adopted Emi - to glorify God through living out the gospel. Not because of what joy she'd bring to us. Not because of what we could do for her. And not because we are trying to be 'good people'.
"We adopt not because we are rescuers, but because we are the rescued." - David Platt
We sacrifice because He sacrificed. We love because He loved FIRST. We rejoice because He has rescued us (Psalm 13:5-6). No hardship, sickness, or suffering will ever compare to what He has done for me. So we will run this race with endurance. It might not always be pretty, but we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not allow these temporary afflictions to take our eyes off the Prize.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you experience trails of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything." James 1:2-4
"I love you Lord; You are my strength." Psalm 18:1
"I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me." Psalm 16:8