By ANNIE WESCHE
Have you ever walked along the Pacific Coast early in the morning when a heavy fog rests like a blanket along the shore, and you can’t see further than a few feet ahead? If you lingered long enough, maybe you have witnessed the heat of the rising sun drawing back the fog to suddenly reveal majestic waters, clear skies, and the glorious sunlight of day. Not every morning is like this, but it’s a breathtaking sight to behold!
Over the past few years, my family and I have walked through a long season of trials, loss, and suffering. Many times it felt as though our lives were enveloped in a dense fog that gave us no reprieve, and we longed for the sunshine of God’s breakthroughs to come. Eventually, in His time, they did. God lifted the heavy season of trials and brought answers to prayer in faithful and miraculous ways! And the Hand that led us out of those trials was the same Hand that had held us tightly in the midst of them.
Allow me to take you back to the start of it all. It began four years ago with a sudden diagnosis of stage-four brain cancer for my beloved mum and best friend. With one phone call, everything changed. I uprooted my life in Colorado and took the first plane home to Idaho. For six sweet months our family held each other, worshipped the Lord, prayed, and hoped. And then God lovingly called my dear mum home. That life-altering, earthly loss was just the start of a succession of heavy fog and storms rolling in on us.
While still in the depths of our aching grief, Dad’s health began to decline and we faced serious illnesses that filled our schedule with weekly home-health visits and doctors’ appointments. My body and soul were still weary from six months of round-the-clock care for Mum, and now, Dad and I were navigating the uncertainty of his own fragile health. Fears enveloped me as I resisted the invading thought of losing another beloved parent so soon.
My responsibilities with life and home significantly increased as Dad’s mobility diminished. And in that same season we were hit hard by financial struggles, debt, housing uncertainty, and car troubles. Then my own health took a hit. I was bedridden for five weeks with COVID-19 and, after a long recovery, other health issues started to emerge. In a time when I greatly desired to be strong to care for my father, God allowed me to be at my weakest and most dependent upon Him.
Pressures and trials seemed to surround us on every side, but those all-encompassing needs caused us to look to the one constant Refuge in our lives — Jesus, our salvation, living hope, and inheritance; the anchor of our souls; the faithful one; and our help in times of trouble. (See 1 Peter 1:3–5; Hebrews 6:19; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Nahum 1:7.)
These were long and difficult years. There were many tearful moments of falling to my knees in prayer and nights of desperate cries to God when I would jolt awake with anxious panic. It was wearying, oh-so wearying. Yet I commanded my soul, “Don’t let go of the Lord!”
Just as mighty waves swirling with abrasive sand will shape the coastlines and polish broken pieces of glass into something beautiful, God was using these trials to shape and refine me. I gave Him my tears. I relinquished my will for His. I laid my hopes and plans in His hands, longing to receive His best for our lives. I praised Him in my suffering. I worshipped in my weakness. I grew in my faith and beheld His faithfulness. And I was acquainted more with the One who commands the winds and waves.
And then, one day, God began to bring relief and provision to our many places of need. After those long four years of fervent prayers, we began to see steady breakthroughs! Dad’s health made a turnaround, and he gained back some of his independence. Our finances stabilized. Our housing issue was settled. God supplied for my car repairs. I found a wonderful, new local church community. And my debt was completely paid off through the generosity of others!
With lightness of soul and joyful leaping in our hearts, we breathed deeply the fresh air of mercy after the storm. And we savored the warmth of God’s faithfulness over our lives.
Being on the other side of that heavy fog, I look back at all that God allowed us to walk through and treasure both the storms and the sunshine. It is undeniable that God uses trial and blessing in tandem to work His purposes in our lives, to shape us, and — the greatest treasure of all — to cause us to know Him more intimately.
In James 1:2 we are told to, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Not feel it all joy, but to count it all joy — to consider it true that this is for our good! To delight in what God has allowed to come into our lives. Why? Because the testing of our faith strengthens our endurance, and through endurance and patience, we are becoming more complete in Christ! These blessed trials serve to grow us into His likeness.
I cannot think of a single trial in my life — even among the hardest and most painful — where I have not known God to be with me or found Him more beautiful, faithful, and true on the other side of it. And because of what was gained in and through the trial, the trial became precious — it became a gift.
But the struggle is often hardest “in the middle.” When the way is yet unclear. When the waiting feels unbearable. When the provision is just out of reach. When the pain or grief is acute. When the fears and what-ifs surround us. When we don’t yet know the reason or will of God for our circumstances.
And this is why we are called to walk by faith, not by sight. To surrender our will for His. To remember that we are not our own. We have been crucified with Christ … and the life we now live in the body, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. (See Galatians 2:20.) There is no better anchor in times of trial or suffering than to meditate on this beautiful, glorious reality! He loved us. He gave His very life for us, so that we may live in Him. The troubles of this life serve His purposes — they are never in vain or wasted.
Hold tightly to the Hand that holds you. It is in the deepest places of pain or suffering that God does the most beautiful work — if we will allow Him, trust Him, and wait upon Him.
It is my hope that this testimony will encourage your heart through any succession of stormy trials you may be walking through — to take the hand of the One who wants to hold you, strengthen you, lead you, provide for you, and comfort you. Ask for His light to break through your storm clouds or fog. Allow His permitted trials to have their perfecting work. And as you endure with faith, the Word of God will anchor you. The promises of God will buoy you. The Presence of God will comfort you. The hope of God will strengthen you. And the purposes of God will be fulfilled for you.
Cheering you on, dear friend, in the encouragement of our glorious Christ!