Thanking God For My Sisters

The weeks and months since our arrival in Oregon have passed by. There certainly have been some good moments, but there have been far too many dark and sad moments. Months of looking for a job …with little-to-no success. Only sporadic contact (by telephone, not face-to-face) with old and trusted friends…and not enough time yet to have made deep new friendships here. A husband who is busy and enjoying his work, but often is absent…after we’ve had 15 months of almost constant time together during our sabbatical. Personal finances that are not yet in balance, due to the length of this ongoing transition…leaving little room in the budget for a variety of new experiences in our new community.

As the months have gone on, at times I have felt abandoned by God and unclear about “the next step”. I found myself crying way too often and much more moody than usual. I struggled to be thankful for all that God has done, and instead sometimes felt like running away.

I have known God since I was a little girl, but I suddenly did not have enough faith to sustain myself. I certainly have faced plenty of challenges in my life, but this one confused me and made me feel in a darker place than ever before. Where was God? What was He doing in my life? Where did I fit? I was feeling “soul sick”, but did not realize how much this thinking had permeated my days, until just before I left for my next session of schooling in southern California.

I went off to my residency, hoping that God would show His face to me and meet me in the midst of my brokenness and distress. I ached to believe that He had plans for my future and that He was with me. Within a short time after I arrived, I felt like God was pouring His love into me and onto me and over me. The process started as soon as I got off the plane and into the presence of one of my oldest and dearest friends. She knows me so well that she was able to minister to me and help me begin to break out of my spiritual and emotional bonds. And throughout the week, close and trusted friends ministered to my soul and brought me to Jesus, the precious Lord who heals broken hearts.

I felt as if my experience was like the paralytic described in Mark 2. In that story, a man who has been paralyzed a long time is carried to Jesus. Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven and then heals his body, setting him free from both his physical and spiritual paralysis.

I know that physical disabilities and diseases can affect the soul and mind. I’ve often thought that the paralytic suffered not just from physical paralysis, but also from feelings of hopelessness, brokenness, and sadness. But – because of his friends – this man receives the gentle touch of Jesus: the touch of endearment, as Jesus calls him “my son”…the touch of forgiveness, as Jesus removes his sins and pain…the touch of healing, as Jesus restores his body and his soul. This man is brought to Jesus, and receives the gift of His touch, through the faith of his friends.

In my case, I felt like I had no way to even get to Jesus. My body was weary; my heart was in great pain; I was at the end of myself. But my loving friends helped to carry my sorrows…and they carried me to Jesus. As they did, my hopelessness began to fade away and my weary heart began to revive.

Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all times and a sister is born for adversity.”

I feel so deeply indebted to my friends. Their love was a reflection of God’s love. They helped me to regain my bearings so that I can navigate all that lies ahead in our new home in Oregon.

- Julie