This week we are blessed to have a two part post from one of our previous writers and woman of wisdom, Dana Yeakley. This was written recently about how we can place our hope and contentment in the Lord, even during this Covid-19 Pandemic. Dana models what she writes about as she seeks her strength from the Lord.
Most of us would agree that this pandemic is indeed a major event. It requires that we live with respect for and in compliance to the guidelines given to us due to its life-threatening nature. As I have reflected on my life and experiences over the last three years, I can honestly say that I am experiencing a genuine contentment in spite of this global crisis.
When I say “content” I do not mean fake happy nor complacent. But what I do mean by “content” is comforted and strengthened by the God of all comfort. As I review the last few years of my life – our granddaughter, Miriam’s, cancer; the death of our son Michael; and other crises over this past year – I can assuredly say that there has been a strengthening amid each one that has come from Christ Himself. So despite this pandemic’s foreboding efforts to take our hearts captive, for me, this is one more event in which I want to and must trust God.
Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified says,
I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]
The severity of these events was such that unless I chose to trust God amid each one, I would fall apart. I knew that I would become emotionally fragmented. I knew that if I did not fall on Christ, I would be lost in the lonely cavern of grief and self-pity. In the above verse we are supplied with and called to a sufficiency that only “Christ in us” can give. We are afforded this sufficiency or Christ’s strength as we abide in and FALL ON Him when we are traumatized.
During my late twenties and early thirties, I can remember that most difficulties I faced seemed to launch me on to an emotional roller coaster. I was young, immature and quick to fall into emotional despair. When we moved to Indonesia, those first weeks were unlimited in emotional desperation. I can remember holding in my fear and hiding it because I was a “missionary.” But when I was alone with God, I was forced to be real. I found myself begging Him, “Unless you change the situation (like take us home) or change me from the inside out then I am surely dead.”
We did not go home. God met me as I approached Him in the Word and prayer. I was forlorn. I was very needy. And not a very nice person. Amazingly, God changed me. So, many years later, I see that living in Indonesia was a training ground for letting God have all of me to do as He wanted in me. He did far more in me than through me.
The journey of personal change rooted in growth (or transformation) is promised in Philippians 1:6 which says,
I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]
Indeed, God has each of his sons and daughters “in the process of His Good Work in us.” It will take a lifetime to perfect that work in us. This journey of growth and change depends on Him working in me and requires that I join up with God and let Him grow me.
I can avoid God when tragic circumstances happen. I can back away or even run away from God when He wants to “change me.” I can hide inside my hysterical prison of fear. I can avoid these things and work at appearing to be godly. None of these responses will satiate my deepest longings. God wants to take my hand, fill my spirit and strengthen me.
Over the years one of my biggest fears hiding deep in my heart but to which I did not give voice was, “What if Tom or one of my children were to die?” I did not think I could face that. Wait, no, I knew that I could never face that. I would recoil from such a thought. I wanted to emotionally flee from the idea. I wanted to ignore it and act as if it would never happen. But after we returned from Indonesia, I met a woman who had watched six of her nine children burn up in a fire in her van right in front of her and her husband. It was as if God pointed right to that big fear in my heart and said, “Time to grow up in this matter.”
This woman shared that when she and her husband were loaded into separate ambulances due to their own burns, he shouted to her and said, “Quote Psalm 34!” He was a pastor and their church had been memorizing this Psalm. Her first response was to refuse to do so but finally she began to quote, “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My life makes it boast in the Lord. Let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.” She shared how God’s Word calmed and comforted her.
So, as I wept with this woman over her loss, I determined that I would also memorize these verses. I wanted to be armed should I face my greatest fear. And then, I forgot about those verses.
…check back tomorrow for the second part of Dana’s post.
Dana has been married to Tom for 47 years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. They have been on Navigator staff for 40+ years. Currently they serve as Staff Equippers for young emerging staff leaders in the U.S. Collegiate work.
For eleven years Dana and her family lived and served as missionaries in the country of Indonesia. After returning from Indonesia, Dana served on a variety of leadership teams with The Navigators. She has written two books on making disciples. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known.