“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
Recently, I read a story in Emily Ley’s “Growing Boldly” that has been resonating with me. She interviewed her friend Christie about her family and the challenges they face. After years of miscarriages, Christie and her husband finally had the family they desired, two daughters and two sons. It’s easy to assume that the miscarriages were the “hard seasons” that Christie and her husband had to endure, concluding that their life would be relatively smooth from this point on. But the real hard was just beginning when they found out that their oldest son was diagnosed with cystinosis, a rare genetic disorder with only five hundred cases currently in the United States. After dealing with this diagnosis, they later found out that their youngest son also had cystinosis. This disease has no cure, only treatments, and the prognosis is terminal. Christie did not hesitate to share the hard details of her life because she believes that “this is our glory story” and she wants “to point people back to the Lord.”
Read that paragraph again and let the gravity of what this woman is saying sink in. Two of her sons deal with medical challenges that most of us can’t even begin to comprehend. Yes, medicine is making advances, but, currently, there is no cure in sight. She is not bitter or in despair, instead she is motivated to use her testimony to bring glory to God, no matter where this story takes her.
Barb Houston, the wife of one of our pastors, recently shared with our congregation something that God was speaking to her during a Sunday morning service. She said that it is one thing to know that God is faithful, but that God has more to reveal to us during hard seasons. She encouraged us to show gratitude, responding with this sentiment during hard seasons. “I know that this looks very dark, but I know who You are, and You will work in this situation. You will bring good. You will deliver, You will heal, You will glorify Your name and I will see it and I thank you!” By this very action, by choosing to thank God for the tough situations and know that His glory will be revealed, we will not only be strengthened, but we will be a testimony of His glory to others.
My story has not always been pleasant. I was repeatedly raped by my stepfather for over a decade. I hid my shame by stuffing food into my mouth, resulting in weighing well over 350 pounds. And in the past few years, I have dealt with some hard situations. Although I can’t change my past, I can choose whether it is my story or my glory story. If it is my story, I will identify with the brokenness, obesity, hurt and despair. If I choose to let it be my “glory story”, I will use it as a testimony to declare the goodness of God. And by seeing the goodness of God in my past, I can rest assured that in the future, no matter what happens, God is good, and His glory will be revealed!
In 1870, Horatio Spafford appeared to be a man who was on a path for a blessed life. As a successful lawyer, he had invested into real estate in the booming city of Chicago. In addition, he was a man of faith, married with five children. But like a modern-day Job, he soon lost everything. First, his four-year-old son died of pneumonia. Next, the Chicago Fire destroyed all his real estate holdings, leaving him in financial ruin. He slowly started to rebuild his life which included helping to rebuild Chicago. He also chose to invest not only in real estate but also in his faith by helping the evangelist D. L. Moody with some missionary work in Europe. In 1873, he sent his wife and daughters on ahead to Europe, while he wrapped up some business dealings. Tragedy struck again, when his family’s ship collided with an iron sailing vessel, killing 226 people. His wife sent a telegram with the simple words, “Saved alone.”
Spafford turned his story into a glory story while he traveled to Europe. As his ship passed the same spot where his daughters had died, he penned a poem. This poem would later be put to music, becoming one of the most famous hymns sung today. The first stanza ends with the words, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
My “glory story” is not over. I am still dealing with some of the aftereffects of the last few years. I still have loved ones who are experiencing some real struggles. I still have hurts and disappointments that I must work through. But even if these situations seem insurmountable or out of my control, my identity is not found in these situations. I am choosing to believe that God’s goodness will be revealed in these situations. And while these situations may continue to exist, I can say “It is well with my soul!”