“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)
Have you ever been overwhelmed by circumstances in your life? I mean, REALLY overwhelmed?
I would venture a guess that we’ve all been there, done that before, right? Not a fun place to be. Regardless of what the circumstances are – – lost your job, financial difficulties, serious medical issues, trouble or rebellion from the kids, marriage going through challenges, etc – – we all face tough times at various seasons of our lives. It has often been said that “tough times in life will either make us bitter or they will make us better.” The choice will be ours.
Quite a few years ago I was hit with circumstances way out of my control, that hit me like a ton of bricks! To say that I was overwhelmed by these circumstances, well, that’s just the understatement of the year. After months of pain, agony, rashes, hives, coughs and choking spells, not to mention all the doctor visits and all sorts of tests I had to go through, I was finally given, in 2002, just one week before Christmas, the diagnosis of Toxic Mold Poisoning with Chemical Hypersensitivity Syndrome!
“WHAT? Mold, like in that green stuff that grows on cheese?” I remember saying to the doctor. “Oh, my dear, its so much more serious than that, I’m afraid. You have 14 different types of mold spores actively growing in your lungs. All 14 types (and he named them off) are all at high toxic levels and you are slowly suffocating to death. We have to start treatment right away.” My husband, Andy and I both sat there stunned!
Yep, I was instantly overwhelmed by my circumstances! It was on the drive home from the doctor’s office that the severity of my circumstances started to really hit me. It hit me hard! Trying to figure out where the mold had come from, I realized that I had brought back from my missionary days in Britain two souveniors: (1) my beloved English hubby, Andrew and (2) lungs full of toxic mold spores. Great! This is just great! Now, what do I do?
Well, treatment with large doses of antifungal medications was started right away. I don’t even remember Christmas that year. All my plans had to be cancelled. I was too sick to even care! And just like the doctor had warned, I got worse before I got better! And there were too many days that I really wanted to die rather than fight these “beasties” within me. I was totally, utterly overwhelmed with my circumstances. I remember picking up my Bible, knowing within its pages would be my comfort and hopefully some answers from the God who had allowed these circumstances to enter my life. I immediately went to my “go to” book – the Book of Psalms.
The first Psalm that I read after receiving that diagnosis was Psalm 61. All I could read at that time, was the first four verses. I burst into tears! And I cried like never before. Only this time I didn’t cry to myself, to comfort myself; I cried out to God for help, for understanding, for just a reminder of His presence for I felt ever so alone. In the midst of those overwhelming circumstances, I realized that I truly needed God! I needed Him to be my rock now that I felt like a wimpy lump of helpless clay. I needed to know that He would be my place of shelter when I needed to be alone in my pain and agony. He needed to know that a horrible “beast” had entered my body, wrecking its damage within, and I needed to know that He would be my strong tower that protected me from that “beast.” And I realized that no matter what my circumstances were, I still needed to run to the tabernacle of the Lord to worship, to pray, to read from His Word, to simply rest in His arms. I needed to learn to trust Him in a whole new way, while I rested under the shadow of His Almighty wings. I needed God in my circumstances!
During that time of dire circumstances, feeling isolated from everyone and everything, facing mountains of medical bills, ongoing battles with intensive treatments, and going between life and death – I learned to really cry out to God! REALLY cry out to God! I opened up my heart to Him in a whole new way! I learned what true worship was to be! I learned to cherish His words of hope and comfort as I read them from my Bible. I prayed with an insanely open heart before God! I had never prayed with such words of honesty in all my life, but now, I wanted to pray that way! I even wrote out a prayer to God. My psalm of lament over my circumstances. It’s my psalm to the God who, through my circumstances, quickly became my rock, my shelter, my strong tower, my tabernacle and my trust! I would like to share that prayer with you, my blog readers, in hopes that it might help you through your own dire circumstances.
“God, I am here in the midst of circumstances that I do not like!! This diagnosis is not one bit fair! I find these circumstances very difficult and extremely overwhelming. I know that I am not alone for YOU are here with me, never to leave nor forsake me! I recognize that YOU are the ONLY ONE who can help me right now. I need Your help God, now more than ever before.
In the midst of this overwhelming battle, may I always remember that:
God, please help me to embrace this set of circumstances as a gift from YOU! Use this time to guard me from becoming bitter. Use this time to make me a better person. Help me to know that YOU, God, will meet me at my point of need with all the tender loving care that I need. Grant to me the assurance that YOU will still use me in spite of this horrible disease, that my life will still have some value to it. Grant me the opportunity to see YOU at work not only in my life, but through it as well. Oh God, please embrace me to YOURSELF — never let me go — hold me tight when I can’t hang on — and assure me that together we will be victors in this battle.
I am here God – – and I feel YOUR presence right beside me!”
My dear blog readers, I cannot tell you how many times, throughout many years, I have prayed that prayer in the midst of all kinds of overwhelming circumstances in my life. It’s truths have strengthened me for battle numerous times. And every time, it draws me closer to God. I truly have learned that YES – He is my rock! He is my shelter! He is my strong tower! He is my tabernacle forever! He is my trust! And I have grown to love those overwhelming circumstances that come into life’s journey. Because they afford me the opportunity to, once again, seek shelter under His wings. And that is such a comforting place to be!!