Editor’s Note: Evelyn Sherwood, today’s guest blogger, is a fellow writer and friend whom I admire. But she is more than an admired fellow wordsmith. She has also journeyed, like me, through some deep and difficult health struggles. Her honesty about her doubts and flashes of faith in that journey have been an encouragement to me. I hope they will be to you as well. As you will read, her health issues have not only developed her trust in God, but deepened her compassion for other travelers. Read on and see how God’s grace shone bright in her darkness.
“I love you,” was whispered a dozen times as we drove to the hospital. The hospital was still in lockdown, so I watched from the car as my dear husband, Steve, labored to walk the long corridor to the ER alone. I slumped over the steering wheel, watching until his frail frame faded from view.
I took a breath and whispered, “Oh God. Take care of my sweetie.”
When I arrive home, I slowly pull into the garage, hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel, Mercy Me playing softly in the background, my body shaking with sobs.
“Oh God, did I get him to the ER in time? When will I see him again? Will I see him again?”
And as I wept, the song playing in the background hit the mark on my heart. “I know you’re able; I know you can save through the fire with your mighty hand. But even if you don’t, my hope is you alone.”
Is God Enough?
These were not mere lyrics on the radio, but God’s invitation, “Will you praise me no matter the outcome? Am I enough?”
At that moment, when eternity kisses the earth, and one minute feels like forever, I came face to face with life-changing questions. Do I believe God is good? Can I trust God when I cannot see the light for the next step? Is God working and moving in more significant ways than my temporary trials? Will God’s extravagant grace and holy love breathe life into hopeless situations? Is He enough?
Tears flood my cheeks as I lift my hands and wholeheartedly reply, “Even if you don’t heal my husband, my hope is you alone. You are enough. “
God’s Grace Shone Brightest in My Darkness
Little did I know how my response to God’s invitation would impact the trajectory of the next eighteen months, flipping the switch for God’s grace to shine brightest through my darkest night.
In Matthew 5:3, we read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I grew up hearing that blessed means happiness. It does, but at a deeper level than experiencing warm, positive feelings. It is contentment and joy rooted in the person of Jesus. And those who are poor in spirit are recipients of this deep happiness.
But what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It is an awareness of our desperate need for God-knowing that every move we make, even the air we breathe, is through Christ at work in us. He alone is enough.
My declaration of God’s enoughness ushered in the palpable presence of God in my life.
Three days after I dropped my husband off at the hospital, I was back at the ER. But this time for myself. COVID-19 pneumonia robbed my husband and me of the oxygen needed for survival. So, while Steve lay fighting for his life in the ICU, I gasped for every breath one floor above him.
God Speaks into Our Pain
Isolated, stripped of all worldly securities and abilities to change our circumstances, we held tight to the gift of grace handed to us, the opportunity to lean in and discover God’s strength made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 came alive from my hospital bed as God whispered, “Write about my faithfulness in the darkness.”
I argued, “But God, I can’t even take five steps tethered to oxygen without gasping for air. How can I write?”
God’s reply was, “My daughter, it is my air in your lungs (Job 33:4). It is in me that you live and move and have your very being (Acts 17:28). Through your weakness, my strength and glory will be revealed(2 Corinthians 12:9). Tell of my faithfulness.”
Like a flower lifts its leaves to the sun for photosynthesis, I again raised my hands in surrender to God’s plan, whatever that plan looked like. Even now, when I look back on the words I penned during that season, I do not recognize them as my words but rather as evidence of God’s hand working to do more than I could imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Seven days after my admittance, we were released from the hospital together. That is when the long journey of recovery began. More dark nights of the soul lay ahead over the next several months: blood clots in my lungs, a cancer diagnosis, and my father’s passing.
But I am learning that the depths of God’s grace and glory shine brightest in our darkest times. For it is at night that God whispers, “I am with you. I will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:8).”
Let Go. Trust God Is Enough
And as we lean in, let go, trust, and offer up gratitude, the sweetness of God’s presence surpasses the pain of our suffering. God fills us with unspeakable joy and peace, filled with God’s glory that cannot be explained (Philippians 4:6-7). Though to the outside world, our circumstances appear bleak, our spirits are rich.
And we know God is enough.
Evelyn Sherwood is a trusted soul-care guide, speaker, and blogger who has served in pastoral ministry for thirty-five years. Sherwood serves an active and growing audience through her blog, evelynsherwood.com, and her bi-weekly subscription devotional Hope for the Journey, encouraging her readers to grab hold of hope in the trials by helping them recall God’s work in their past. Nothing puts a smile on her face more than sharing about the faithfulness of God with a friend over a steaming cup of cappuccino or iced peach tea. On a summer evening, you might spot Evelyn and her husband, Steve, driving through Indiana farmlands in a canary yellow ’47 Ford pickup
or enjoying an outdoor movie night in their backyard with their eight grandkids.
Evelyn has recently published a helpful and popular devotional Just Breathe: 30 Practices to Calm the Weary Heart.
You can find her here on social media: