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Our Anxieties, His Comfort

Kathleen Kohler

I jolted awake in the darkness, my sleep disturbed by images from the evening news. A suicide bomber in Kabul, forty people dead, oil prices on the rise, heating bills higher this winter … these headlines give us pause, one more thing to stress about in the midst of our crowded days.

The clock read two a.m. as my thoughts crept toward worries closer to home. Now out of bed, I made myself a cup of tea. I opened my Bible and read where I'd left off that morning. Confronted by his own struggles, the Psalmist wrote, "In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul," (Ps. 94:19 NKJ).

It soothed my spirit when I thought of the times God rescued David. And, I remembered the Father's faithfulness to my own family. Though I've never faced armies as David did, my battles are no less painful.

Twenty years ago when my husband lost his job, we made some tough decisions. After months of unemployment, odd jobs, and seasonal work, our finances ran out. For more than a year, we struggled to hold onto a lifestyle we could no longer afford. Reality slapped us in the face when we lacked the funds to pay our mortgage. A checkbook with a zero balance and a maxed out credit card bill screamed broke, and we felt desperate. We contacted the bank, who offered us a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

Grateful that the bank chose to forgive the balance of our mortgage, we prepared to move. We found a home for our son's beloved cat, Smoky. I sorted through the house and packed boxes. And we held a yard sale to help raise enough money to start over in a new place. Item by item, we watched potential buyers search through our precious belongings and drive away with our furniture.

As we loaded our three kids into the car, the house stood dark and empty the morning we left. I took one final look at our first home and tears streamed down my cheeks. I surveyed the snow-covered yard and thought about the bulbs I'd planted and the flowers I would never see bloom. With our van packed full, we drove west from Wyoming, to our home state of Washington. My husband had a job interview waiting, but we were uncertain what our future held.

The interview went well and, two weeks after we left Wyoming, my husband started work. We found a place to rent close to family, just miles from where we'd grown up. It took time to crawl out from under the mountain of credit card debt we'd acquired. But his new company provided benefits we'd never had before. By the following year, our income exceeded what he'd made with his previous employer.

Unlike David, I didn't understand all those years ago that God was the source of relief from a mind tethered by worry. Psalm 119:5 tells us our comfort is in His Word which gives us life. In all my grief, I couldn't see the rich blessings the Lord had for us when we said good-bye to that first home. All I could see was my loss.

Life is hard, but God is faithful even when He doesn't lay His plan out on display for my approval. I've learned that when you think things can't get any worse, often times they do, but because I'm His child He still guides my steps.

The benefits we received from relocating far exceeded anything we'd left behind. Our children had the opportunity to develop deep relationships with their grandparents and my grandmother. In the summer they played in Grandma's yard and helped her pick pears from her tree. In the fall she showed them how to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs.

My sons spent many Saturdays over the course of their growing up going to coffee club with my dad. They met his friends and listened to them tell stories from their own childhoods. And with Daddy they enjoyed sampling donuts and muffins from every bakery in the greater Redmond area.

Six years ago, when my dad lost a four-year battle with cancer, I was thankful for the time my children spent getting to know their grandpa. I thank the Lord that He knew better than my husband and I what our family needed.

Now when I face difficult circumstances and life seems out of control, I open my Bible. I search the Scriptures, and the Good News of God's Word helps me put life in perspective. As I read verse by verse, I find peace and the comfort to carry me through every trial and heartache.

© 2009 Kathleen Kohler