They were high school sweethearts. Usually those relationships fade away as we mature and grow older. Laura and Martin fell deeper and deeper in love and finally married. But marital bliss was interrupted by the terrorizing fear of sudden loss. Martin had developed a brain tumor. A healthy and handsome man in the prime of youth was hospitalized with no assurance of a future with his new bride.
When we arrive at unexpected crossroads, when our own happiness is threatened and we learn that his plan for us includes a direction we did not choose and pain we did not want there are only two directions we can go; we will become embittered and get angry with God and perhaps even hate him or we will discover an enduring and sustaining grace we never thought possible.
Laura Story chose the path that led her nearer to God. When I heard her song and read her story I couldn’t help but think of the verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Laura’s unexpected trial took her to a place where she could write the song “Blessings”. It is a song about responding with faith and hope when life takes a bad turn. Laura says, “Life is filled with things you don’t expect, but the Bible tells us to respond by trusting God and continuing to worship him. Martin hasn’t received complete healing—and that can be hard at times when we view God as all-powerful and all-loving. But here we are now saying, ‘Yes, this is how faith works.’ God has proven to be faithful. We have been truly blessed out of a circumstance that at first didn’t seem like much of a blessing at all.”
How many of God’s children have found comfort in his words? “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." (Hebrews 13:5) It is often during the more difficult times that we discover “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
God doesn’t promise us a rose garden. Sometimes he sends his “refining fire” to purify us and awaken us so our senses are prepared for a deeper revelation of his glory. The suffering He allows and the subsequent grace has a transforming affect on us. Laura says, “We have a voice that wasn’t there prior to this suffering.”
Recently we saw many of our greatest warriors shot down in Afghanistan. They gave their lives for their country and for a cause they felt was bigger than themselves. I wondered when I read about this tragic loss if they would have signed up had they known the outcome. When we choose Christ’s way our commitment to the journey does not depend on our own contentment or happiness. We press onward for Christ whether the path leads through the valley or to the mountain heights. Laura reinforces this truth when she says, ““Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for him as a savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it. This is a good place to be.”
Laura writes a wonderful song about the mystery of how God can bring blessings through tragedy.
Nathan Hale was hung as a traitor by the British during the Revolutionary War. His last words mirror the feelings of many Christians, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” We have all been given but one life. We must make the most of it. Laura expresses it well, “The world supports an idea of self-centered living because ‘I just have this one life,’ but we need to look at it the other way. We only have one life to give to God. I don’t want to have held anything back. I don’t want to be a conservative Christian; I want to give with abandon, to be spent, to truly give my life away for the cause of Christ.”
Might we, like the Apostle Paul, learn to “be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11)
“'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?