Staying the Course in Times of Failure

by Rey Cooke

staying the course

Mom’s illness had worn me out emotionally and physically. My best prayer times were spent in the car traveling back and forth to her home. Sleep was interrupted with worry, fear, hurt feelings, guilt, and anger. Even though I shared the responsibility of caring for Mom with my brother and sister, I still felt overwhelmed and sad.

I longed to be at home with my husband and family; to watch my grandchildren play ball on the weekends. I listened to praise music and sermons online when I could, but nothing replaced my church. I felt as if I was slowly drifting away from my life. When I was with Mom I wanted to be somewhere else, and when I wasn’t with her I felt guilty and torn.

The hospital days were long. I didn’t expect her to make it out. We were given the worst news about her condition; almost every organ was in total failure!  “Why hadn’t she taken better care of herself?” Angry thoughts drifted through my mind driving a wedge between God and me—not because He moved away from me, but I’m ashamed to say, I moved away from God.

The tide turned, Mom slowly began to regain some strength and her heart function increased to 19 percent. We began to be hopeful that she would make it out of the hospital, but we knew her life would be radically different. She would no longer be able to live independently, which meant an adjustment for me and my siblings.

I wasn’t prepared for the roller coaster of emotions I would go through when she returned home. We began to make arrangements to put her home on the market and get her and her husband settled in a Continuing Care Community.

The volcano inside of me finally blew when I overheard my mother telling her friend that we were taking all of her things. I snapped at her, forgetting how sick she was and how the medication altered her perspective. I was surprised at what popped out of my mouth—not Holy Spirit led, but my flesh in all of its glory!  

I immediately called my sister and confessed what I had done; her response shocked me back to where I needed to be.  My sister gently said, “We are all tired and not ourselves, but I watch you because you always do the right thing even when it’s hard.” Continuing she said, “You have taught me how to stay the course in hard times.”  Wow! I never loved my sister more than I did at that moment. She verbalized how God had used my life to encourage her many times, and oddly enough, her words brought life back into mine.

I had slowly moved off course, but I was reminded that it doesn’t matter how many steps I take away from God, it only takes one step to get back to Him. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I had been avoiding people because I didn’t want them to see me struggling. I didn’t want to hear “churchy responses” that made me feel even worse. I was bleeding out, heart-broken and depressed.  Some of the kindest words I heard during that time were, “can I buy you lunch?”  I just wanted to sit and eat food that someone picked up for me and enjoy being nourished without any expectations. Even answering the question, “How’s your mom?” was difficult to answer.

When people are going through a crisis they are emotionally and physically bankrupt! Likely you have far more to offer than you know.  A brief “thinking of you” text is uplifting; a cup of coffee with no strings attached can be just what you need. Kindness goes a long way.

Mom is not out of the woods by any means, however she is far better than she was. It’s still a challenge, but I learned some valuable lessons through this difficulty. We do not get an exemption from hard times. As Christians, we get the promise of His presence in troubles. I would much rather have a companion in hard times than to be alone in them.  I found nights to be the hardest part of the day; that’s when my fears would surface. It seemed the darkness distorted my perspective and my husband wasn’t with me to talk through my emotions. But I know I am never alone because I have a Savior who is always present and His presence is my protection. There’s no guarantee how long we will journey in this life, but we can stay the course no matter what we face because of our Faithful Companion who promises to never leave us!

Rey Cooke


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