Testing God’s Promises
What God says He will do is more than just words.
by Karen Foster
I sit among strangers in a sterile hospital room, waiting. We each wait for our loved one to come out of surgery. We wait in our own little worlds.
Read a magazine. Check a smart phone. Stare straight ahead as though hypnotized by sand trickling through an hourglass. Can they hear my heart pounding? We do not smile or interrupt the silence while we wait — and pray.
A surgeon enters the room like a celebrity walking onto center stage. Everyone’s eyes turn, ears alert. Well? I don’t know the man, but I wonder. Is the verdict good news?
I remember when my husband and I first heard the news alert that interrupted the routine of our normal lives. The words came from an emergency room physician: “The CT scan revealed a spot on your kidney. I can’t urge you enough to get that checked out.”
The kidney stone, the culprit of my husband’s excruciating pain, turned out to be a blessing. Further tests revealed a tumor in his kidney, most likely malignant. Thankfully, it was small and slow growing. Better to discover it now than later.
We left the urologist’s office holding hands, but we held our tongues as we processed the gravity of the situation and privately dealt with our personal feelings. With our youngest son’s high school graduation on the near horizon, surgery was delayed till the summer. We kept the news to ourselves until the last minute.
Silence didn’t prevent the C word from haunting me. Like a seesaw, one minute I was in the air, fearless and optimistic. The next, I was down on the ground, clothed in a widow’s garb. Tears streamed down my cheeks when I least expected them, my heart heavy as granite.
Seeking the Lord
Alone with my thoughts and unable to include others to pray, I leaned on the Lord, who had allowed this current event in our lives and knew the rest of our story. Who, other than the Lord, could calm the storm and heal a fearful soul?
“But when I am afraid, I will put my confidence in you. Yes, I will trust the promises of God” (Psalm 56:3, 4, TLB).
This wasn’t the first time I’d been afraid for my husband’s life, nor the first time I had to trust God’s promises.
In August 1990, the Air Force activated my husband’s military unit to prepare for Desert Storm. The same knot of fear in my gut for his well-being, the same question mark hanging over our future, kept my eyes on the Promise Keeper who would never leave nor forsake us.
Attired in a green flight suit, my husband kissed me goodbye and embraced our five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter before he left for duty in the Middle East. Those were the days before cell phones and Skype, so we purchased an answering machine for the landline phone. I didn’t want to miss my husband’s call if I wasn’t home.
One night, soon after he left, the distant siren from a police car awakened me. I tossed and turned for an hour, filled with impending dread. Enough, already! I turned on the lamp and went to my desk that stood in front of our bedroom window.
Lampposts lit up the street below me. Is that my cat prowling the neighborhood? I looked at the cookie cutter houses and their manicured lawns. Tears spilled onto my cool cheeks as I thought of married couples snuggled in bed, oblivious to our plight. I feel so alone.
I grabbed my Bible, desperate to drown out “what ifs” screaming in my head like a siren: What if Dan doesn’t return? What if something happens to me while he’s gone? What if he’s not home for Christmas? What if . . . ?
And then another Voice whispered. Karen, what if you believed God’s promises?
A few months earlier, I had read Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography The Hiding Place. Corrie and her sister Betsy were arrested and sent to a German concentration camp for hiding Jews during World War II.
Betsy died there. Grief-stricken, Corrie clung to Psalm 31:14, 15: “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hand” (NASB).
Inspired by her faith, I had claimed that verse, not realizing a storm — Desert Storm — would sweep into our lives and demand I trust God with the number of my husband’s days. Take me, Lord — not my husband was not the voice of someone who claimed to trust God’s promises.
Concern for my husband’s safety and fear I’d become a war widow with two young children held me hostage until the reality of Psalm 31:14, 15 enlightened my heart. That night, I mustered the faith to acknowledge, “Lord, my husband’s times are also in Your hand.”
Using my Bible concordance, I turned to Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (NASB).
Is there a theme here? I couldn’t add a single day to my husband’s life. However, I could entrust him to the Lord who loves him and ordained the number of his days.
God reminded me of another promise: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34, TLB).
I stood at a crossroad: worry or trust? Worry resolved nothing. But trusting God’s promises soothed my nerves and fortified my heart against anxious “what ifs.”
Lord, I choose to put my confidence in You and trust Your promises. Increase my faith to make it possible.
When my husband’s parents phoned from the East Coast to check on me, they were amazed at my calm demeanor. “Karen, you sound so brave.”
Fast-forward twenty-four years. I’m waiting in a sterile hospital room among strangers. I wonder how my husband’s procedure is going and what the future holds. But God’s peace prevails because I remember the past when His promises came true.
Like the lyrics from an old hymn, I’m “standing on the promises of God my Savior” when my husband’s surgeon, dressed in blue scrubs, enters the waiting room. He makes a beeline toward me.
“No worries,” he assures me. “The procedure went well and took less time than we expected.”
I rise from my chair as though lifted on angels’ wings and listen to more words. The prognosis is good. Soon, I’m by my husband’s bedside, holding his hand.
In the same way, I hold onto God’s promises. They are the same, then and now.
Scripture quotations are from The Living Bible (TLB) and New American Standard Bible (NASB).
Karen Foster writes for Christian publications, speaks to women’s groups, and serves as a jail chaplain for women inmates. Her passion is to share the satisfaction that only God can bring. Karen lives in Auburn, CA. Visit her website and blog at KarenFosterMinistry.wordpress.com.