Lessons from the past help guide
the present and the future.
by Yvonne Kays
Pointing the remote at the television, I clicked the set off. I couldn’t bear more of the clamor and chaos. After over four weeks of sheltering in place, hearing about the pain of death and loss resulting from the pandemic felt overwhelming. Prayers for the sick, for those mourning, for those losing their livelihood, and for those fighting the disease on the front lines flew up several times a day.
At high risk, my husband and I chose social isolation from the outside world. Thankfully, we had each other and stayed connected with family and friends on social media and email. I tried to call at least one person every day and used old-fashioned snail mail to stay in touch with others.
The shock of change and uncertainty reverberating through our nation reminded me of 9/11. Glued to the television that fateful day, I phoned family just to say, “I love you.”
Stories of survivors and heroes filled us with hope, and we believed our nation would pull together to overcome the enemy, just as we are doing in the darkness of today.
Now as I hunkered down in my home, I recalled another time in my life when all light extinguished in my life. God sent a message of hope to me back then.
My first husband’s diabetes had led to kidney failure and then dialysis. We learned a kidney transplant was not an option, due to the shocking results of his heart test. He had suffered two or three “silent” heart attacks without any awareness or treatment. His heart was so badly damaged, even bypass surgery was not a consideration.
We struggled to accept these life-threatening events, knowing that we lived with a time bomb that could go off at any time.
Courageously and with his indomitable sense of humor, my husband faced each day without fear, savoring each moment. Somehow, step-by-step, God guided us through the next three years of dialysis, the amputation of his leg, and finally, the fatal heart attack that came on a Memorial Day morning.
My world shattered; my heart ripped in half. Indeed, two do become one, and half of me was gone. After twenty years together, I was alone. The whole world turned gray.
Dealing with grief
After a month off, I returned to work, going through the motions and struggling to make decisions through a fog. But work was rewarding and proved to be an anchor, keeping me focused and able to pay the bills. My golden lab’s enthusiastic greeting each night made coming home to an empty house more bearable. Still, darkness engulfed me.
Surrendering to the need for help, I attended a hospice grief group and shared with others also suffering. My supervisor recommended an Employee Assistance Program counselor, and books helped me understand this wasteland called grief.
The news of the world left me overwhelmed, so I unplugged the television. Turning to the Psalms for comfort, I recorded encouraging scriptures in my journal and found a gratitude to record each day. I remember writing “I must face the darkness.” But as summer turned to fall and the hours of light decreased, my darkness only increased.
Friends prayed with me and encouraged me to attend our church’s regional women’s retreat with them in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. So, in late September, we drove from Oregon to a conference center on the Columbia River.
A prayer walk was the first activity the next morning. We were instructed to go out by ourselves, pray, and seek a message from the Lord. Following the walking path that wound along the Columbia, I found a rocky point jutting out into the river.
Perched on a boulder, I observed the murky water swirling with colorful fallen leaves and bits of debris. Everything seemed to be dying and falling to earth, being swept away. My eyes filled with tears.
Crying out to God
My future felt misty, uncertain without my husband. We had done everything together. I felt so alone. Pain seared my heart, and I found myself sobbing as I poured out my heart to the Lord.
Heaven was silent. No words of comfort came.
Wiping my eyes, I glanced at my watch and saw that the time to return was near. No message from the Lord. But as I approached the door to the conference center, a voice spoke in my heart. “Will you accept?”
Kind, yet convicting, the question startled me.
Acceptance. A gentle, subtle reminder that I was not alone, for Jesus was with me, even when I heard no voice and didn’t feel His presence. He knew grief; He had wept (John 11:35). And He companied with me in my pain.
The Serenity Prayer flashed into my mind. Ask. I needed to ask for acceptance while waiting for my heart to heal.
As I found a seat and continued to mull over this message, the speaker was introduced.
A pastor’s wife shared her testimony. She and her husband had been traveling to a new pastorate in a distant state when he suffered a sudden heart attack. He was life-flighted by helicopter to a hospital, where he died.
With him gone, she had no home and, without health insurance, was suddenly thousands of dollars in debt. Overwhelmed, this woman cried out to the Lord.
The Lord spoke: “I am always here, and I will meet all your needs.”
Unbelievably, someone stepped up to pay the $25,000 bill for the life-flight. Someone else provided an apartment. A job opportunity opened up.
Then she read words written by Andrew Murray that encouraged her in her trial. They brought tears to my eyes as I listened, and they helped me understand the acceptance the Lord had spoken of.
Now while sheltering at home, I pulled out my journal to reread Murray’s words she let me copy later that day:
He brought me here. By His will, I am in this difficult place; in that I will rest.
He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child.
He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
In His good time, He can bring me out again; how and when, He knows. So I am here by His appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time.
I recalled God’s encouragement from the next speaker that day that I had recorded: “The Lord instructs us to ‘Be courageous’ (Joshua 1:9). You can do hard things with God’s help.” She reminded us of Paul’s exhortation to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3, NKJV).
Today, in the face of the pandemic, the same choice lay before me. Will I accept? I can ask — for the serenity to accept each day, for courage to take the next step, and for wisdom to know my part, trusting that ultimately the victory is God’s.
Hope budded and blossomed in my heart. He is enough.
Great faith is simply surrendering to His will and resting in His peace. He will bring good out of these uncertain times too, in His time.
About the Author