Strengthened in Trials

Strengthened in Trials Hero Image Strengthened in Trials Hero Image

“Sunday, June 7th, 2020, was like any other morning, with the light filtering through the windows and the sounds and smells of my husband and daughter making breakfast in the kitchen. I was seven months pregnant, and it was time to get up and start the day.

“And then I realized I couldn't move.

“Amid a pandemic, I was rushed to the hospital. My body was shut down by agonizing total-body stiffness and muscle spasms. I was so rigid that the nurses and doctors feared they would break my limbs if they attempted to move me. My eyelids, mouth, and throat muscles became too stiff to open. I appeared unresponsive but was fully aware. To those around me, I was gone. To the One who could hear me in the depths of my despair, He reminded me I was not alone, to trust in Him, and to be thankful in the stillness. After bedridden years of praying and continual testing, I was recently diagnosed with a rare progressive movement disorder, Stiff-Person Syndrome.

“I believed I was a mature Christian before this happened. But in those darkest moments, the Lord called me to give everything to Him. I had been pursuing the American dream, juggling a successful career, and striving for perfection as a homemaker. There was much more He longed for me to surrender. He wanted all of me.

“In the past two years, I have praised, questioned, and cried out, and I am assured we serve a God who can handle everything. He has taught me what it really means to abide: to understand that, without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). Getting out of bed in the morning, putting my feet on the floor, the miracle of picking up a spoon … all the daily tasks, accomplishments, and decisions that I had foolishly believed were mine, I now know they are all given by Him.

“The last two years have been difficult, but the Lord has used it all for our good (Romans 8:28). My husband Ben has humbly taken on tasks from diaper changing to helping me wash my hair, and the most important one is being on his knees daily. This season has deepened our love for God and each other. We joke about being trailblazers in ‘geriatric parenting’ as we navigate raising young children with challenges most only experience post-retirement. We have grown in ways we never imagined possible.

“In God's sovereignty, I am thankful I came to know my Savior 14 years before I was placed in that hospital bed. Before trusting Christ, death, poverty, divorce, abuse, and neglect left me with a deep awareness of pain and evil. I was angry at God for my circumstances. I could only see God as unable or cruel with how or why He would allow suffering. In 2006, my pride faced the reality of Romans 7:18; I realized I could not do life on my own, no matter how hard I tried. He loved me and died for every hidden tear, wound, and sin.

“I am thankful to have come to faith at Watermark. God's people radically loved, mentored, and invested in me. They didn't just tell me the gospel; I was invited to see it lived out in their lives (1 Thessalonians 2:8). It would prove foundational. When we moved out of state, God opened my eyes and heart to a deep awareness of the needs of churches outside these walls. He also used the time to tear down idols I had built. I worshiped Christian culture. I had yet to spend time cultivating a deep relationship with the Lord through prayer, His Word, and understanding the work of His Spirit within me. I hungered for the Lord for eight years in this dry valley season; He used it all to draw me closer to Him.

“God working through Watermark laid a strong bedrock for my faith. I now see that God also used the deep pain and circumstances of my childhood to give me perspective on suffering. Without God, pain brings hopeless desperation, but in having a deep abiding relationship with Him, my trust in the Lord has only been strengthened in trials.

“There are many days when I wake up and cannot move. It would be easy to believe such a thorn would halt the Lord from using my life. In my desperate physical, mental, and spiritual dependence, God has shown Himself over and over. I will joyfully spend every day of the rest of my life proclaiming all Christ has done and how His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Not a day passes without me being in complete awe of who He is and wanting to give Him all of me. I trust Him.”