And the hardest part is…

Because of her asthma problems my wife had been on high-dose Prednisone for a very long time. One of its side effects can be avascular necrosis where the blood supply to the hips or the ankles can be severely diminished, killing the bone. For my wife, that happened in both of her hips. So, by the time she was 35, she had to have them both replaced. Our tenth anniversary was celebrated in the hospital family room following Jane’s second surgery. Friends had coordinated with the nursing staff to put together an impromptu steak dinner in that room because it looked the least like a hospital. Jane and I both chuckled and said it would be an anniversary we’d never forget. And it’s true. It was a memorable anniversary.

I say all that because, for me, the hardest thing to do was to learn to accept help. Our church is very loving and giving and our deacons saw to it that things like meals were provided for us when Jane got home from the hospital. By her second operation, I had learned to be better about accepting help than I was following the first, but it was still a struggle. All our kids were elementary age at the time. I needed the help. Do you know how hard it is to do girls’ hair? I tried. Our two youngest were easy. They had straight, short hair. Our oldest, a boy, had easy hair, too. But our oldest daughter? She had a beautiful head of long hair with a slight curl to it. Impossible. All I had to do was brush it and try to put it into some kind of ponytail. What? The first time back to school under my hair care, and her teacher asked: “What happened to your hair?” My daughter replied plaintively, “Daddy tried to do it.” From that point forward my oldest girl just came to school with her brush and a scrunchy (?) and the teacher fixed her hair. That was at the teacher’s recommendation. I was thankful, if a little embarrassed. The embarrassment was just my pride.

You see, the Bible is full of verses like 1 Peter 5:7:

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”

That word “casting” means “to throw with a sudden motion, to cast forth.” Picture a rider throwing a saddle onto a horse’s back, or someone throwing huge sacks something onto the back of a mule. In either case, the person is putting his burden onto something else. Sounds simple. Have a burden too hard to bear on your own? Throw it onto God. He doesn’t mind. He cares for you. So, why is it so difficult? Because of the verse before 1 Peter 5:7:

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”

When Peter wrote this, he had the Lord in mind who had “made Himself of no reputation…humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8), and as he hung on the cross, “despising the shame,” He bore that shame looking forward to “the joy that was set before Him.” Jesus accepted the deepest humiliation and then God exalted Him to the highest degree. The exaltation would never had happened without the humility that had preceded it. That was one realization I had to struggle with.

The other was with how God supplied our need. Did you know that as needy as we were, God never sent an angel from heaven with a single meal? Not even manna from heaven? Instead, He sent people – His people – who showed up with lots of home-cooked meals. Things we really liked. But not one person was an angel with wings. They were just ordinary church people with a heart for us and a desire to serve God, and they served God by serving us. Most of the time God meets our needs through people. That’s the miracle. You can miss it if you’re not paying attention. The only way you can see it, is if you do 1 Peter 5:6. I didn’t see it until many years later. Must be a guy thing: “I’m the man! I’m the provider! I got this!” Sounds more like Lucifer in Isaiah 14 than Jesus in Philippians 2:3-8.

When it comes to trusting God completely, the hardest part isn’t yielding the burden, it’s yielding yourself.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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