I do not ask my children to endure what I will not endure with them.
When they've been stuck with needles, or had surgery, or endured far worse, I've insisted on being there, sometimes observing procedures that would cause the most stout-hearted to faint. I've always believed that I could not ever tell my children that they must go through anything alone. I thank the Lord that He has always empowered me to follow through on that belief.
Before the last year, the worst trials of my life had involved watching my children suffer what I would have gladly endured had it been possible to trade places. Each situation has brought me greater appreciation for Christ's suffering—and greatest appreciation for the Father's pain to watch His Son suffer. I do not mitigate in the least what our Lord Jesus endured on our behalf. But as a parent, I believe that the Father's suffering was greatest.
In the intense trials of the last year, I have been brought to my knees, and I have been brought to what seemed like the very end of myself. (I know all too well, however, that Self was only broken and yet lives. Drat!)
I would not wish the last year of my life on my worst enemy (though I know no person I count my enemy). Even so, I am grateful that the Lord put me through this, and did not force me to watch my children go through it. That, I think, might have been too much. I might have finally seen the place where I could not accompany another. (Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy.)
Yet I wonder how will they know what I now know. I can ask, "Have you not heard?" and they may say they have. But if I ask "Have you not known?" they cannot fully know it until the day they themselves test it:
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
~ Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)
I fainted. I became weary. I found myself weakened beyond what I thought it possible for a Christian to be.
And this is what I now know. The Lord renews strength not as the reward for waiting upon Him. In the waiting upon Him—in the going back to Him, depending upon Him, turning to Him in every moment of utter and hopeless weakness—He gives not the strength for a lifetime, but the strength for the hour. Renewed strength is not the goal to attain as a lesson one learns and moves on. Renewed strength is the sustenance for the life hidden in Him.
He will not ask me to endure what He will not endure with me. And He asks me to do more than endure.
In the hour when I cried out to Him that it was too much, He was faithful and did not allow testing beyond my ability to stand. For in that hour He gave the strength to not merely endure, but to persevere with Him. He is the Everlasting God. I cannot outlast Him.
I understand that strength will always be available to me. I need fear nothing. The Everlasting God does not leave me—He leaves me renewed.
How I love Him!