“Finally, remember who God is. As you read the Bible, notice the many promises God gives to his people and notice his faithfulness to keep these promises.” [i] This past year has been the toughest year of my working life to date. It has brought me to new levels of trust in God and utter dependence on Him that I (wrongly) thought I had already conquered. There have been moments when I have wanted to quit, moments of waking in the middle of the night with panic attacks threatening, and moments convinced of everything failing. I suppose Trebesch would call it a year of isolation. Despite the toughness of the year, God has been completely and utterly faithful, and I have numerous testimonies of His faithful help.
Last October was one such moment. My mum had just died a few weeks earlier, and I had just dropped off my husband at the airport for his latest two-week work absence. In addition, I was preparing for the departure of my ‘right-hand woman’ back to the USA later that month for her visa renewal, not knowing whether she would even be able to return to the UK. I felt so alone and was busy telling God so during the drive home.
God knows I love rainbows. To me, as I’m sure it is for many others, a rainbow represents God’s faithfulness. On that car ride home of forty-five minutes, I saw four rainbows, each time stopping the car to just breathe in the sight. On two occasions, two of those rainbows seemed to stretch all the way across the street, right to the front of my car (see photo)! I still can’t quite understand how that is physically possible, but those small signs meant the world to me. I may have felt alone, but God was still with me, and faithful to help with the ministry challenges.
As theologians, we can spend hours talking about the validity and relevance of the Scriptures, but when you have little else to hang on to, God’s Word takes on a whole new precedence in our lives. For some reason, God seems to take delight in bringing us to places of isolation, where everything is stripped away and all we have left are the promises of His Word and guarantees of His character. Trebesch talks about being broken and humbled by God and His purpose in it all. No doubt we have all had to go through this unseen ministry training, and perhaps some of us are currently going through such seasons right now.
What I’m learning is that weakness is a place of strength, for when we feel our utter weakness, it provides us the opportunity to experience God’s strength. When we have nothing left to give, we begin to experience the generosity of God. When we’ve run out of hope, God’s counsel provides us with fresh sources.
This past year, I have felt His flames purging my heart, have seen Him provide money from the most unlikely of sources, have received His much-needed strength and hope in the middle of the night, have woken up miraculously transformed, and have received His wonderful guidance through revelations. What a faithful Father we serve. May He continue to provide each of us with the manna we need to sustain us in our desert experiences.
[i] Shelley Trebesch: Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of A Leader (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1997), 59