How many times have we tried to fight the battle ourselves? We think that if we just pray harder or work longer or come up with a better plan, a solution will present itself just around the corner. We will overcome, we tell ourselves. We will be conquerors. But eventually a battle comes along that we do not have the strength to fight. This is the struggle KariAnne Wood shares through her transparent and honest discussion about her daughter’s illness and how she discovered she was not alone in her battle. Because in the valley, in the darkness, in the overwhelming moments…God is there. It’s a grace to welcome KariAnne to the farm’s front porch today…
Have you ever climbed a mountain?
Literally or figuratively?
Did you notice that when you stand at the bottom of the mountain and look up . . .
. . . it all seems so overwhelming?
There are steep cliffs and crevices and many vertical miles to go. You try to climb. You put one foot in front of the other, and then, somewhere along the way, you lose your foothold.
You look up at the mountain, brace your shoulders, and shiver slightly at the road ahead.
I can’t climb this, you tell yourself. I’ll never make it. I don’t have the strength or the energy or the willpower for the journey. That mountain is unclimbable.
But the truth?
To climb a mountain, sometimes all you need to do is stand.
I’ve never climbed a literal mountain before, but I do know what it’s like to stand at the base of a problem that looks insurmountable.
Last November, my fourteen-year-old daughter Whitney had eye surgery for a detached retina.
When she was born, she and her twin sister were three months premature, with all the complications that come along with an early birth. Unbeknownst to us, her blood vessels never developed properly behind her eye. The eye problems didn’t present themselves when she was younger. She had eye check-ups every year, with great reports and twenty-twenty vision.
Until one day she noticed that her vision in one eye was blurry and that there were dark spots in the corners of her peripheral vision. We rushed her to the doctor’s office, where tests revealed that she had a detached retina. The next day she had emergency eye surgery to repair it.
She was so brave. She didn’t flinch. She grabbed my hand and held on tightly and stared up at me with big blue eyes full of courage and determination. They put a cap on her blonde curls and a patch over her eye, and then they tucked her into the hospital bed and rolled her into surgery.
I stood there watching the doors close behind the cart and dissolving into tears . . .
. . . grasping for understanding.
Why? I sobbed. Why? She is so small, and I’m so scared. I tried to pray, but I couldn’t find the words.
I was under attack from the enemy. I tried to lean on the Lord for patience and understanding, but my sorrow and fear got in the way. I tried to search my heart for a Scripture passage so I could find comfort in the promises of God.
But the mountain was too high, and somewhere along the journey, I lost my foothold.
My daughter healed quickly after the surgery. The doctors told us everything looked optimistic. We were hopeful. Her sight returned, and the blurriness faded, and her smile was back bigger than ever.
Six weeks after the first surgery, we went in for a follow-up visit and discovered she would need another operation. And then another surgery four weeks later. It was heartbreaking. Her smile dimmed a little, and her blue eyes clouded over, and her heart was sad. I watched as my tiny, four-foot-nine-inch fighter struggled. She couldn’t go to school. She couldn’t play basketball or jump or leap or cartwheel or dance . . .
. . . or climb.
Ever so gradually, in the middle of the valley, as I watched my daughter struggle, I realized I wasn’t fighting alone.
Scripture tells us to put on the full armor of God. We are to buckle the belt of truth around our waists and take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.
I wish I could tell you it suddenly became easy, but the truth is, it was hard.
It’s one thing if you struggle, but to watch your child suffer is almost unbearable.
It was painful and sorrowful and gut wrenching, and there were days I felt overcome by the sadness of it all. But over time, painstakingly, with God’s help . . .
. . . I took on that mountain with every tiny step.
Every foothold. Every minute. Every hour. Every day.
And then I watched as the impossible slowly became possible.
I got my foothold back. My steps became stronger. The hopeless became hopeful.
My daughter’s sight returned in her eye, albeit blurry and out of focus.
God carried us to victory.
Mountains appear around every corner.
Sometimes they are higher than we ever could have imagined.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and to take our focus off of Him. In the darkest of hours, He teaches us to rest on His promises.
And when we can’t fight—when we’re weary and we’ve lost our foothold on that mountain path—we are simply to stand.
Stand against the schemes of the enemy.
Stand firm on the Word of God.
Stand on faith, with our feet ready.
And let God take our steps for us.
With joy and an exuberant heart for the un-finer things in life, KariAnne Wood writes her books and the lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms from her project-filled historic home in Dallas, Texas. She recently followed God’s call and jumped back “home” with her family from the middle of the country to the busy Dallas Metroplex, where she lives with her husband and four children.
Her second book, You’ve Got This (Because God’s Got You), features fifty-two devotionals that are full of joy and encouragement, with Scriptural reflections, personal stories, and prayers to remind us that God is always by our side. He loves us when we feel unlovable. He lifts us up and gives us a peace that passes all understanding. And in the midnight of every dark moment, He is there.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale House for their partnership in today’s devotion ]