I began 2016 with this verse, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3. When God gave me this verse to hold on to, I couldn't help but feel a little anxious. Why would I need perfect peace? What is going to go wrong? What will I encounter that will cause me to struggle to trust in God?
The year brought quite a few challenges for my loved ones and I regularly found myself praying for healing. I find that my mind tends to get bogged down with the "what if's" easily when someone I love is in dire straights. My mother-in-law was hospitalized twice with illnesses that should have taken her life. My father-in-law had emergency open heart surgery after going to the ER with chest pains. The doctors marveled that he had been on his elliptical earlier that day, and lived to tell about it! My great aunt Mary, nearly had a heart attack from some undetected internal bleeding. It took two weeks in the hospital to find the source and fix it. She wasn't expected to return home, but she is still with us...another walking miracle. My cousin Bob went in for a routine exam, and ended up having open heart surgery. It was touch and go for the longest time. They were unsure in the beginning, as to whether or not his heart was strong enough to have the surgery. He beat the odds and is still with us. Then there were the many challenges my own mother faced. She began the year, battling an infection in her leg that took five months to heal. The antibiotics used to help heal that infection killed off all of the good bacteria in her digestive system. It took her another four months to recover from that. She is currently awaiting the results of a CT scan on her lungs...to identify something of concern that showed up on a chest x-ray.
There were moments that these things robbed me of my peace worse than any financial struggle I had been through, in the four years that my husband was without a job. I had to keep going back to those words, "whose mind is stayed on You". As long as my mind was focused on the suffering of my loved ones, or the unbearable thought of losing one of them... I had no peace, I couldn't pray, and I felt anxious. Prayer became my way of refocusing, my only way of making sure that my mind was stayed on Christ. I learned to bring every "what-if" directly and immediately to God. This helped tremendously! I realized that the second part of that phrase "because he trusts in You", is the result of remembering that God is not only present with me in the moments that I am anxious, He has gone ahead of the current circumstances I find myself in. He is already at work handling all of the "what-if's" I could possibly imagine. I began to take comfort in the thought that He has gone ahead. He is with me in the present, but has also gone ahead and prepared a way for me in whatever I will face in the future. He is already there. This is how He keeps us..."I will keep him".
This comforts me as I enter 2017. He has kept me. His perfect peace has taken hold of me during troubled times and I have grown a bit more in trusting Him. In many ways 2016 was a year full of miracles. How wonderful to enter into 2017 with this peace-filled thought: Our God who is not confined by the here and now or any of the limitations of the physical realm, has gone ahead of us into the year 2017 and is already working miracles on our behalf!