Fragile times that Truth Strengthens

by tklicka on June 7, 2017

A couple Fridays ago, I was blessed to attend a Steve Green concert with my daughter Charity, who invited me to share in the experience with her. I raised my kids on many wonderful Christian artists’ music, including Steve Green. From Hide ’em in Your Heart CDs for kids, to his outstanding praise and worship music CDs, my kids were saturated in gospel-centered theology in music.

You never know if, as adults they will like, let alone remember what you tried to instill in them through the music you listened to as they were growing up, and it blessed me greatly to know Charity still listens to and loves Steve Green’s music.

 

I love it too, more than many other artists. Green was raised on the mission field by parents who lived out the gospel in lands far away, without many of the comforts and conveniences we take for granted in the USA. He saw the reality of their faith and I’m certain it had a big impact on the strong man of God he has been all his life.

At the concert that night, Steve shared that the gospel is something we need to be reminded of, again and again. How true this is, especially when you find yourself amid difficulties – enduring sickness, suffering loss, or experiencing being misjudged or maligned.

If you are facing ongoing hardship, you may find that waves of discouragement come washing over you when you least expect it, like a surprise wave, bigger and stronger, and threatening to knock you down. Isn’t that the time when you need to be reminded of God’s faithful love, good purpose, and mighty power toward you? I know I do.

I remember longing for these reminders in several seasons of my life – during a nightmarish childhood, then when I almost died from ulcerative colitis in the late 80s, then when Chris’s health start to deteriorate rapidly after a shocking MS diagnosis, quickly followed by us nearly losing our twins in utero in the 90s, to my being very sick again with UC around 2000. Losing Chris to MS in 2009 is a grief that never completely goes away, even while I have so much to be thankful for in our marriage of 25 years.

Chris & I meet Steve Green at one of his concerts in 1995 – me, pregnant with our twins, Charity & Amy

 

Most recently, the past two years of my life have been very painful and difficult. Turning my eyes to the Lord has been my only hope. Purposing to trust in God for the details and needs of my life is what I’ve tried to do, again and again. Waiting for His help as I’ve sought to obey and follow Him through suffering, however, was excruciating at times.

The power of God’s Word to strengthen us in its truth is just what we need in the center of our storm. God knows this and He often brings the very Word we need to hear to lift up our hearts and minds. During an emotionally fragile week last week leading up to the Steve Green concert, God brought me a Word that deeply encouraged me.

In an online course I’m taking about stewardship for nonprofit Christian ministry, a wise, godly older gentleman in the course with me shared a story about King Hezekiah. His application is just what I needed to hear:

“I’m reminded of a story in 2 Chronicles 32 about Hezekiah and Sennacharib. Hezekiah was king of Judah and Sennacharib was king of Assyria. The mighty Assyria army was headed for Jerusalem to take the city. Upon hearing the news Jerusalem set out to deter the army by doing all they could within their limited power. They repaired the broken walls, strengthened the gates to the city, fortified the towers, and even built another wall outside the existing wall. They also made large numbers of weapons and shields.

They did everything within their power to stop the Assyrian army. After they prepared for war and did all they could do, they left the matter in God’s hands.

With Jerusalem gathered together, Hezekiah declared, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

The end of the story was victory for Hezekiah and Jerusalem. God sent an angel to defeat the Assyrian army before they ever made it to Jerusalem. Thus, I am challenged to:

1) Recognize the days in which we live

2) Be strong and courageous

3) Be wise and do everything within my ability to {conduct myself in a worthy manner; emphasis mine}

4) Realize that God goes before us to fight our battles”

I would not have written the story of my life the way it has turned out, particularly the last two years. The fall is real. Brokenness is inescapable. God has heard my prayers, though, and has either strengthened me for each step of my journey or has shown me mercy. It is God’s lovingkindness, or hesed that keeps us from being crushed under the weight of the fall and its effect on us.

And that strong, true picture of our God filled Steve Green’s music that night, music and truth which Charity and I both love. Praise be to His dear name.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ricci Black June 7, 2017 at 10:07 PM

Thank you, Tracy. I have observed your walk and it matches your talk. Integrity. Devotion. Perseverance. Faith. Just the same as the wonderful artist Steve Green, whom I have gleaned the same encouragement and inspiration. Jeremiah 29:11!

Ricci Black June 7, 2017 at 10:08 PM

Tracy, oops. Please add “from whom I have gleaned…” thanks!

Shari McMinn June 7, 2017 at 10:21 PM

Another excellent, transparent post. Thanks for the encouragement as I face the suffering grief following my daughter’s murder and pending trials of the two accused. Thankfully, I have many memorized hymns from attending church for 59 years so I always have a song in my heart and on my lips when the battle is fierce. God-filled music is such a balm for the soul, isn’t it? Bless you, sister.

tklicka June 7, 2017 at 11:47 PM

Thank you for the kind encouragement. It’s a blessing to have you as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ❤️

tklicka June 7, 2017 at 11:48 PM

Shari, you continue to be in my prayers. God is strong in His love toward and help for you!

Barbara Woolfenden June 8, 2017 at 10:41 AM

Dear Tracy, your reminders of God’s grace and care for us are always an encouragement to me. Thank you for revealing your heartaches and struggles as you walk with our Lord. Your transparency means more than you may realize. Bless you!

tklicka June 8, 2017 at 3:28 PM

Thank you for the encouragement, Barbara. That’s my heart’s desire, to encourage others in the Lord’s love and goodness.

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