By: Cheri Fuller
"Just as saving faith comes through hearing the gospel, so also the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone. Only in scripture do we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances. Only from the scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, do we receive the grace to trust God when we are afraid."
When Cathy’s daughter Susan was going blind, she agonized over what was happening. Susan had a car in the driveway she couldn’t drive, her boyfriend dropped her suddenly, and her college roommate moved out the week before finals without saying a word, leaving her alone the last eight weeks of the spring semester. Susan’s family had prayed with and for her, trusting God with the situation. But their struggles continued with a vengeance as her blindness progressed rapidly that summer.
As a mother, Cathy had never gone through an experience as painful and worrisome as this one. She would sleep at night but upon awakening, tears would already be streaming from her eyes. Worried thoughts would rush in. . . . Will Susan be able to finish college? What about her dreams? What about marriage and her future? Who will marry her if she’s blind? She cried and then washed her face and picked up her Bible and began to candidly talk to God.
“Lord, You know I’ve taught women in Sunday school for years that You are my comfort and hope; I feel nothing but sadness. I need Your comfort just now.” As she read, verse after verse soothed her aching heart and strengthened her to face the day and minister to her hurting daughter, her family, and the women in her Sunday school class. Each morning as Cathy read the Bible, God gave her a different verse of His hope, His security, and comfort. From this, she learned she must let Christ set her heart mood for the day from His Word and focus on what God said instead of what she felt. If she looked at worrisome circumstances or why something happened, she’d spiral downward to depression and fear.
One morning when she read Isaiah 26:3, “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord” (TLB), Cathy had an idea: to write these verses to carry with her everywhere she went to focus her mind on throughout the day. As she did, she found not only did it keep her from dwelling on the dismal what-ifs, but her thoughts were gradually transformed from worry and sadness to a confident sense of peace.
Charles Stanley once said, “The most valuable item you can own in the time of trouble is a Bible.” Cathy found hers indispensable. The Word of God was alive and powerful as she learned not to keep her attention riveted on a constant rehearsal of what had happened to her daughter or all the whys, for that would make her easy prey for Satan—but on the truth. Day by day with her “Peace Packet,” as her collection of Bible verses in a small ziplock bag came to be known, she focused on Christ and His promises.
Verses such as “I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:8 NIV) and “Jehovah himself is caring for you!” (Psalm 121:5 TLB) dispelled fear. Psalm 112:6–9 became a passage that strengthened her faith: “For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries, He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor” (ESV).
As the summer went by, Cathy began to type up these verses on cards because women in her class were going through their own trials and they asked for them. As they noticed what peace, comfort, and strength came, her collection grew and so did the demand for it. The little Peace Packet that came from one family’s grief has been used to help many more: a man whose wife was critically ill, a young woman whose husband left her with two children, a missionary in harm’s way in South America, a family in the emergency room awaiting word on their teenager who’d been in an auto accident.
To share the rest of the story: though Susan’s vision did continue to deteriorate, she finished college, even traveling to Finland on a student exchange program. She pursued many of her dreams and married. She, her husband, and their son run a horse ranch in a western state, and God has truly done more than she could have asked, thought, or imagined. It doesn’t mean this one experience was the end of their suffering. But over and over Cathy has seen that God’s promises are as fresh and real and glorious to them today as they were in their darkness over twenty years ago.
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”