In 1999, my dad suffered two severe strokes within a couple of weeks. The first caused him to fall from the ladder on which he was standing and resulted in a fractured skull and several broken ribs.
I lived about 800 miles from him and my mom at that time. I remember the day the phone call came bringing the sad news and compounding our already topsy-turvy situation: We’d just moved into a house that desperately needed to be cleaned and painted. Boxes filled each room, waiting to be unpacked. I’d committed several weeks prior (before the move was scheduled) to accompany an editor to Texas for a week-long conference. That trip was only a few days away, and I’d return just in time for my youngest daughter’s surgery.
My extended family encouraged me to fulfill my commitment to the editor with the understanding that I’d make an emergency trip home if Dad’s condition failed. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but he suffered the second stroke a week after my return. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and drove the 800 miles to be with my parents.
Challenging? Oh yes. I remember falling to my knees in my girlhood bedroom and crying out to God on my dad’s behalf, begging for physical strength for myself, and asking Him to presence Himself with my family. To say I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. So what kept me going? Keeping my eyes on the One who is invisible.
As I sat at my dad’s hospital bedside far from my husband and children, I disciplined my mind to focus on the character of God. I reminded myself that He was sovereign, fully in control of this situation. I reminded myself that He was good…all the time…even when my dad suffered paralysis from his second stroke. If I’d allowed my thoughts to wander into fear-filled places or self-pitied spaces, I’d have succumbed to exhaustion and hopelessness. But keeping my eyes on God enabled me to keep going through those unforgettable weeks.
Keeping our eyes on God in the hard places of life is vital to our ability to keep going. Moses knew all about it: “It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). Defying Pharaoh’s anger and chased by an army as he approached the Red Sea with nearly 3 ½ million people in his care, Moses focused on God and did what He told him to do in the face of incomprehensible odds. If he’d focused on his fears instead, he surely would have faltered and probably failed to obey God’s orders.
How do you get through life’s challenging places? If focusing on the invisible One is your method to survive and thrive, what specific actions do you implement?