(If you haven’t already, be sure to read When it Hurts, Hold Still: Part 1 before continuing…)
That night at my kitchen table, I felt the Lord speak to my very soul. He had me in a “holding pattern.”
Now, a holding pattern is the flight path maintained by an aircraft awaiting permission to land. It is also a state or period of no progress or change.
As I took inventory of the last thirty-two nights of experiencing my daughter’s night terrors and my own sleep-deprivation, I could agree that I was in a state or period of no progress or change.
Yep, I was in a holding pattern!
I sensed that until I learned what He was trying to teach me through the pain, there I was going to remain.
Now, I knew that God didn’t send the fear that tormented Lydia for over a month; because the Bible instructs us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)
I also knew that He could use that same painful situation to accomplish His purpose in me.
I had to believe that Romans 8:28 was not just a promise, but my promise: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I didn’t want to be like the stubborn Israelites that wandered around the wilderness for 40 years - never entering the Promised Land. I wanted to learn my lesson and pass my test. And in order to do so, I was in need of a heart adjustment and a perspective shift.
If you’ve ever attempted to remove a sliver from a small child, the closer you bring the tweezers to the actual sliver, the louder they cry and the more difficult they become.
They yell, “It hurts!” in which you firmly respond, “Hold. Still!”
And that’s exactly a picture of my behavior that last month. I had been kicking and screaming and whining to God how badly it all hurt, when ultimately, I just needed to hold still long enough for Him to address my heart.
In my brokenness, I came to understand that the pain wasn’t even about me. It was about what God intended to do in me – while making myself available to Lydia.
I stopped thrashing around long enough to realize that God wanted to work something in me that I couldn’t have worked out myself...
When life gets painful, when things are tough, when the load is heavy - we beg “Uncle!” and cry out for “Mercy!” We scramble to find the eject button, the exit door, or the escape hatch. We long to throw in the towel and quit.
In those moments we have to realize that, so often, it is our very pain that draws us closer to Him. And that same pain is oftentimes the very process that He uses to produce fruit in our life.
I prayed and (like Daniel) got thrown into the lion’s den anyways. But even in that dark, scary den, God was with me!
That night, I felt the Lord refresh my spirit in a way that not even 13-hours of uninterrupted sleep could have offered me. If I slept or if I didn’t no longer mattered. I was going to be Lydia’s constant.
James implores to, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 2:2-4)
I decided that I was no longer going to call my trial "a problem” but "an opportunity.” An opportunity for God to work out my maturity.
After some very clear marching orders from the Lord, I went to sleep on Lydia’s bedroom floor that night. She woke up terrified and screaming (like she had been doing all month long) but something was different... Something had changed...
That night when she woke up, instead of being frustrated and dreading her middle-of-the-night cries, I was ready for them - even joyful - as I got to be the one to comfort her.
She cried out for me and I called back, “I’m right here.”
And that’s what God does with us. When we call out to Him in our darkest hour and scariest night, He answers us.
I spent the next seven nights on an air-mattress on Lydia’s bedroom floor and we quoted Proverbs 3:24 until we were blue in the face: "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." One week later, I returned to my bed as her terror had ceased. (Praise the Lord!)
This story has been unforgettable and its lesson, powerful.
I was reminded of it last week when my husband was in Alabama for a pastor’s conference and I was left to mother all four children by myself for four "sleeps.” Halfway through the week, my oldest came down with a fever that spiked at 105 degrees (not 100.5 mind you).
He was hot, I was worried, and my other half was states away.
All I could think of when I went to sleep on his bedroom floor that night was, I’ve been here before.
And since I had, I recognized the need to hold still.
Yes, sometimes we pray and get thrown into the lion’s den anyways. But even in the lion’s den, God is present. And whatever the outcome may be, we must believe that He has a plan and a purpose for it all.
We can take a cue from Daniel and trust God because God is trustworthy: "The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God." (Daniel 6:23)
Last year I faced weeks of fear and torment. This year I'm facing months of fevers and sickness.
I choose to consider it pure joy because I know that the pain is producing fruit in my life.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
So while I wade through more sleepless nights and unanswered prayers, I will confidently and boldly say: