Faithfulness. It’s a word that bears so much meaning, surely mere letters cannot express the depth and weight it carries.
All our lives we look for it. Oh, we disguise it by other words we want. Happiness, security, love, success, and the list goes on. But what we long for, what is wired into our very DNA is a desire for this firm foundation. Something greater than ourselves to hold us, to stand fast when all around us is breaking loose. To keep us.
After my husband Alan’s 14-month battle with brain cancer, we knew we were nearing the end. Our hearts were wrecked, our bodies and emotions spent. We had done everything we knew to do – conventional, natural, experimental – to fight this beast.
We had prayed and petitioned and believed with all our hearts that our great God could, with a breath, change the course laid out for us. He chose not to. That sounds horrible and yet we know and trust that He is good.
It was at this moment of surrender, that our desire for our prayers to be answered the way we wanted was overcome by the desire for God’s will to be done. Not knowing what that will looked like, but trusting in it anyway.
I can honestly say that in the depths of grief, God is present. Only in Him can tears of loss become songs of praise and even hope.
The children and I soaked up my beloved’s presence by sitting by his side, curling up next to him on the bed, or combing his hair. We spent the last 2 weeks measuring his breaths, ears strained for any change. We stroked his face, whispering into his ear our thankfulness for a life well-lived. We praised him for the love he poured out on us and how faithfully he served our God and then we waited.
In the waiting was agony and also surrender. I begged the Lord to love him well through my actions, asking him to make my care tender, constant and faithful – an expression of the Father’s love.
Then one night in the wee hours, God woke me. Alan’s chest was still, but as I lay my hand on it, he exhaled one last time before entering glory. I roused the children and we gathered round his bed. With one last gesture of surrender, we praised our God for the gift Alan had been, and gave up a sacrifice of praise through singing. We worshiped, not knowing what the future held, but knowing that we only wanted to move forward with the One who knows all things, our lives directed to the One they call Faithful and True.
We marked two years this past February since Alan went to his true home, and I can say, it’s true. God has been faithful and I know that even on the hardest of days, he will be faithful. I may feel weak and doubt at times, but God’s faithfulness is not dependent upon mine.
2 Timothy 2:13 says,“If we are faithless he remains faithful.” (NIV) When my heart is overwhelmed with fear of the future, and I feel too weak to hold on, His right hand upholds me.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
The children of Israel used to set up altars of remembrance. These stones served as reminders that their God had shown up, that when all seemed lost, God was faithful.
Maybe we all need more altars of remembrance. Something to wake us from the slumber this world casts over our hearts. We are so often lulled to a state of apathy and hopelessness, feeling overwhelmed by the state of our own hearts or the things around us. The enemy whispers to us that God has left us alone. That there is no one faithful, not even the Lord.
We must wake up, beloved! That starts with God’s word. We must go to it and let our hearts be put back together. We must look again at just how great and sovereign He is and hope.
Study the way He always does what He says He will do and let your feet find that firm ground.
Be reminded that your citizenship lies somewhere beyond what you can see with your eyes, and be strengthened to press on toward that place.
Altars of remembrance can also be physical. We can place things in our homes that speak truth over us or remind us of the times we have seen God personally part waters for us.
When I stopped wearing my wedding band, my kids knew it was hard for me. I still had a ring on my right hand that Alan had given me on our last Christmas, but it felt untrue to declare to the world I was wed when I was no longer.
So, they gave me a ring. It was two turquoise stones stacked upon one another, an altar. It was my own personal altar of remembrance that God had been faithful and He would be still. It was something I could see every moment of the day.
Wherever you find yourself today, whatever your battle is, your God is faithful! Take some time today to build an altar of remembrance. Ask someone you know what one of their altars of remembrance is. Speak truth over your hearts, and watch the Faithful One make all things new!
Tara Dickson became a widow when her high school sweetheart and husband of 24 yrs went home to Heaven after a 14 month battle with brain cancer. She is the mother of four grown children and “Nana” to Ava Rose and Aria Violette. Tara began writing to share her journey of “grieving with hope,” to encourage others that God is present in the midst of our darkest days and she found a treasure in the process as God moved her to “Lift Up Your Eyes,”. She writes regularly about what happens when we fix our eyes upon Him: we find that in Christ the broken can be made beautiful and the empty places filled. You can connect with Tara at her blog Bruised but not Broken or follow her on Instagram here and on Facebook here.