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About to turn in for the evening - just meditating on God's plan and purpose for this season in our lives. Although I do not believe that God brings cancer to me, nor that it is His will for my life - I certainly don't believe He is surprised nor overwhelmed by the circumstance I find myself in.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers (her) out of them all. Ps 34:19.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. Is. 43:2
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Ps. 23:4
I've read all these verses hundreds of times in my life and can glibbly quote them. But suddenly, through my own affliction, fire, and sshadow of death, they have become real and obvious. There's another verse that says something like - why do you act surprised by these circumstances? Yet - I'm surprised!
There is a lovely woman who works in the outpatient surgery area at the hospital who said to me during my first two weeks of biopies and scans, "Don't spend time asking why me. The real question is why not me?" I think she's right. Affliction comes in many forms and each of us must persevere through our own shadow of death. For some it's emotional, some physical, some through loss, some through struggle, all through pain. I'm trying to navigate in a place where there is no real understanding of how I arrived at this moment - and instead trying to continually turn my face toward what lies ahead.
Some of you might be familiar with a book called Strengths Finder. It's a big hit at my office and almost our entire staff has benefited from this material. Basically, you buy the book, use the passcode in the back to take an online assessment, which then tells you some revealing things about yourself! Now what I love about this book is it tells something great about you! (Who wouldn't like that?) It's always delivering good news!
In the months prior to my diagnosis, I had been a little obsessed with leadership development based on strengths...spent a lot of time thinking about it and observing myself and others. I am realizing how much God is a strength provider and finder. All that is good within us, He placed there. I'm simply digging in the field of my life (and in some of yours) to find the pearls of great value. And then - trying to figure how to maximize the impact of those pearls for His kingdom.
In the last week or so I'm beginning to obcess again. I noticed that my 5 key strengths have been kicking in and how important it is to go with my strengths. Here's me:
I have to admit strength number one can get me twisted up on this journey. God keeps telling me to look ahead for His sign post - because as I already confessed - I can't find the thread of strategy in the past - the how, why, or when of disease. I think if I look forward, He will reveal some overcoming strategies to me. I think He already has. I need to pay attention...like a jigsaw puzzle - trying to bring the pieces together to create a clear vision.
My relator is in full swing - loving communicating by writing and in person with friends, family and co-workers. The more I relate - the better I feel - the more encouraged I am - the greater my faith - because you are lifting me up!
Belief - well - you know - I believe!
And positivity! I'm really pressing into this strength. Not only am I staying with my own personal tendency to expect a positive outcome - but I'm leaning into the relationships which support this vein of thinking.
The other day at the doctor's office there was a couple at the end of the row who started out talking about how faithful God is - but somehow deviated into a conversation about all the wickedness in the world. They just kept talking loudly about horrible situations and circumstances. I moved as far away as possible. I opened my Bible on my phone and started to read - anything to try and drown out their words.
There was a young lady a couple of chairs from me who obviously felt terrible. I asked if I could pray for her and when she said yes, I said, "Move down here. They are speaking death down there, and we just can't take it!" It sounds kind of rude now that I read it...
And finally developer - well, I don't know if this strength is in operation right now. It seems all my focus is on developing the muscle of faith in me and nothing to do about recognizing the potential in others. I trust that this struggle will produce a fruit that I can share - a seed of hope I can cast - friendships and opportunities that will allow me to encourage another. Maybe this will kick in as I get closer to the "other side."
How about you, friend? Are you pressing into your strengths? Have you dug in your field to find a pearl of great value? It's there! I promise! He sows in our soil so richly and your top 5 or 10 or 20 strengths are so unique and so revealing. If you find yourself in a season of affliction, I hope that you will grab hold of your own pearls and hang on with all your might.
My soul - wait silently for God alone; For my expectation is from Him. Ps. 62:5
In You I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame nor let my enemies triumph over me." Ps. 25:2
So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Heb. 13:6a