Where Strength Is Found
A devotional by Shellie Arnold
“But they who wait for 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 40:31 ESV
In August 2002, I was a homeschool mother of three (including one toddler), I worked part-time, and my husband commuted over an hour each way to work at a church that had seven services each weekend. I was pursuing a career writing and speaking on marriage and family issues. Busy doesn’t begin to describe my life.
I was also scheduled to have a much-needed surgery that included three procedures. I was nervous about that, and a bit unhappy about the recovery time involved, as well as the accompanying disruptions to life and schedule. Consequently, in the days leading to the surgery, I had trouble sleeping. I expressed as much to my doctor, and he prescribed something to help me sleep.
Unfortunately, I was highly allergic to that medication. After taking it, I had an anaphylactic reaction and almost died. My husband found me and called an ambulance, and I spent the rest of that night in the critical care area of our local emergency room.
That reaction fried something in my brain and left me with residual symptoms that increased over time. I experienced coordination issues, tremors in my hands, memory issues, and headaches. But the worst problem was intermittent paralysis on my right side. As days and weeks passed, my right side often looked like I’d just had a stroke—my right foot turned in, my right hand drawn up, my head falling over, mouth and eye drooping. Eventually, I had to take a medical leave from work, I could not drive, go to church, or do other normal life things to take care of my family. My career pursuits completely stopped.
To say I struggled with God during that time is an understatement. I could not reconcile a holy God who called me to write and speak, yet left me with a body that could not write or speak. Sitting in church while others sang around me, left me feeling hurt and abandoned.
As I sought God and He impressed upon me three things: Shellie, do not go to dark places inside. Do not tell yourself your life is over. Thank me for every breath.
With all my physical abilities nearly gone, I determined to be obedient to what I felt God saying in my spirit. And I decided if the only thing I could offer as a sacrifice to God was my attitude—not my writing or speaking or anything else—I was going to have the best attitude possible.
So, I waited for healing. I waited and waited, following what God had spoken to me, and maintaining the best attitude I could. Positive, hopeful, and thankful. And I learned the meaning of Isaiah 40:31.
It is in the waiting we find strength. Not when our needs are met. Not when we get relief from our burdens. Strength is found only when we wait on God. When we stay in His presence, listening for His voice, following His directives, and in total dependence on Him. That’s where strength is found.
God healed my brain on May 18, 2005, almost three years after the reaction. But I know it took more of God to carry me through those years than it did for Him to heal me. If I had not found strength in waiting on Him, I’m certain I would have lost hope, become bitter, and turned from Him.
I’m so thankful for this verse because it takes the pressure off. We don’t have to figure out the answers to our challenges. We don’t have to guess or figure out how God is going to take care of us. Rather, we simply have to wait in His presence with hopeful expectation as He does His work. Rest in Him, my friend, and find strength.
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily ever after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that.
She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources.
Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.
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