Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Peace of God

I couldn’t remember a time in my life when I had been so jumpy and nervous, and with each passing day it worsened. Ever since the tragic death of my seventeen-year-old stepson, a few months earlier, I had been going through the motions and feeling anything but alive.

My husband and I had two children of our own. It felt as if my grieving family was directing all their anger at me, making it even more difficult to cope with my own despair. Thoughts of divorce and even suicide, constantly plagued my mind.

I used to wonder how the death of a child could destroy a marriage. I assumed the thread of common agony would bring a couple closer together, and their shared grief would build a bridge instead of a wall. Instead, the anger over our loss had begun to poison our relationship. When one wanted to talk, the other didn’t. Communicating with anyone, including each other, was very difficult.

One day at work, after hanging up the phone from yet another argument with my husband, I desperately whispered aloud, “Dear Lord, help me.”

Suddenly, I felt a strong hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see my cousin, Jay, who worked nearby. In a comforting voice, Jay asked if I needed help, and then offered the number of a friend—a Christian counselor named Joe.

During my first visit with Joe my tears flowed effortlessly as I poured out my torment to a stranger schooled in listening to hearts. Before long, he nailed it. “How much time are you spending in the Bible?” he asked.

The Bible? I just told him I was having trouble focusing on anything, especially reading.

“God’s Word has tremendous power. And, you don’t need to read much for it to help,” he said, as if he read my mind. Handing me a piece of paper, his eyes met mine. “I want you to look up these two scripture verses and memorize them.” Neither of us blinked.

I had been a strong Christian prior to my stepson’s death, but between the weight of the grief and my own anger at God, I had stopped having my quiet time with the Lord. Even though I continued to attend worship services, I was going through the motions there, too.

When I returned home, armed with the verses in hand, I looked them up and slowly read them out loud. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” It was Philippians 4:6-7.

I had to break the words down, meditating on just a few at a time, but with each reading I felt as if a soothing balm was being lovingly massaged directly into my heart. Gradually, an amazing transformation began to occur. As I spent more time in the Word, I returned to prayer. Then the fog in my mind began to clear, sound sleep returned, and the heavy pain slowly subsided.

With God’s help I began crawling out of that deep, dark cave that my soul had been choking in for so many months. I became more patient and loving with my family, too, praying out loud with them again, infusing hope and comfort in their hurting hearts, as well.

I realized how close I had come to almost allowing the enemy to destroy my marriage, or even my life. God had divinely intervened; first through Jay and then with Joe, but mostly through the power of His Word. Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel. Our part is to turn to, and trust in, Him alone.

Wishing you peace,

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