Adversity challenges all of us. It seems to pinpoint our weaknesses and swallow our dignity until all we are left with are two choices: to cry out to God deeper than ever before or throw in the towel.
A decade ago, adversity struck our family in a moment when we least expected it. My normal routine flipped upside down when I received a call from my husband as he was on a ministry trip. He calmly yet firmly told me the doctors received the results from his biopsy. He had cancer. My husband, a dad, a Pastor, an evangelist, a man of God, my best friend, had cancer. Not just any cancer, but metastasized melanoma. The kind of cancer that has no cure and spreads rapidly in the bloodstream. In that moment, I was faced with those two choices. I chose to do what I had done for years and trust in God that His position has and will always be higher than any adversities we face in life.
My husband battled six years of horrific clinical trials and treatments until there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We stayed steadfast when there was no hope in the future. We prayed. When others told me to have a drink or take medication to calm the nerves, I chose to cling to Holy Spirit and listened to His voice for direction.
My husband passed away on March 9, 2014. Seven months later, I received the news that our only son had passed away from an overdose in his apartment. Can you imagine my agony as a wife and mother? The pain I experienced after losing the love of my life AND my son? I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God and asked Him to take my tears of loss and turn them into tears for the lost. I wanted to see His plan in all this and He was so faithful to let me know He wasn’t out to hurt me, but wanted to use what I had been through to touch others.
I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God…
As I was reading the Word, a story in 2 Kings, chapter 4 became alive to me. It’s the story about a widow and what was left in her house after her husband died. She began to tell Elisha that she had nothing left since her husband was gone, but what she didn’t realize was there was something in the house. There was oil. I came to a point in my grief when I cried out to the Lord and said, “I have nothing left!” But He quickly reminded me that I was full of oil of the Holy Spirit. God gave me two beautiful daughters and two son-in-laws full of oil of the Holy Spirit. He left me with the ministry that Steve and I began together years ago. He left me with people who loved us. I had oil in my home and that’s what would help me overcome these tragic, life-altering events.
So, how do we overcome adversity? Just as David said in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” I remind myself of where He brought me from, how He saved me and set me free from a life of sin. He took a girl who was born from a rape, never knew my biological father, don’t remember my mom’s first husband, then she was a single mom with three children on welfare and food stamps. Life had dealt her hand that she didn’t know how to play. She married again, an alcoholic, a very abusive man verbally and physically. I let hate and bitterness fill me which lead me to start drinking and smoking at age 12, which continued to escalate until I was 18 and in jail for selling drugs.
Going to church Easter and Christmas didn’t give me much of a foundation. I didn’t think anyone could understand the Bible and change. My mentality was that you had to be born into a Christian home to be able to have a good life, so I thought my lot in life was a life of sin. But then something happened, my mom got saved watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. She started reading the Bible, praying for God to do SOMETHING in her family.
An Assemblies of God pastor came to our house and invited us to church. My mom wanted to go but my stepdad wouldn’t let her. This pastor wouldn’t give up, he came back every Saturday for two years, even when my stepdad threatened to call the police on him and I told him we weren’t interested. He kept telling me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. I didn’t believe him, I told him and God I wasn’t worth it and they might as well give up on me. It took two years of his persistence for God to wear me down to a place where I would say, “Okay God, I am sorry. Have your way in my life, forgive me, cleanse me, make me new.” And He did!
I went into a program called Teen Challenge where they taught us the Word of God and to memorized it. to pray and have a love relationship with Jesus. For the first time in my life I thought there was hope and that if God could change me, He could change anyone. My heart’s desire was to let God use me to reach others.
I met Steve in Bible School. He had been touched, changed by God and wanted to share Jesus’ life changing power with others as well. I loved serving Jesus alongside Steve for 35 years. Now he is with his first love and I am still serving my first love.
I am still serving my first love.
How do we overcome adversity? Cling to the Word of God, hold fast to His voice, and never allow the enemy to diminish your purpose in Christ. I will never allow fear or grief to water-down God’s plan and purpose for my life. The enemy lies to us telling us we aren’t worth it or life isn’t worth it, but when we decide (And I believe it is a decision) to believe in God, His Son, Holy Spirit and let our thoughts be taken over by the Word of God, we can overcome any adversity that comes our way.