“And provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV2)
It was 5pm Easter Sunday 2011. The phone rang. It was the hospital where I had just been with my husband in the Emergency Ward. My husband’s heart was failing and the doctors offered little hope. For most of the time they asked me to wait in the Family Room but relayed to me that my husband said over and over to tell me that he loved me. When my husband seemed somewhat stabilized, I came home to feed my pets before planning to return to the hospital. The phone call came as I was just resting in God’s promise to me, given several years earlier.
It was 1998. I was on my way to my weekly Bible study and talking to God about my husband who had accepted Jesus almost 20 years previously. However there were areas of his life not given over to God. This had caused many problems for us leaving me feeling extremely discouraged and particularly so that morning. I walked into the room where the Bible Study was to take place. Suddenly my eyes were drawn to a banner on the wall. It seemed as if the letters on it lit up and glistened. They read HE IS FAITHFUL. The Bible Study began and as always was precluded by a worship song. The song the leader chose was “Great is They Faithfulness”. After the song, prayer was given for marriages and husbands. I was awed and encouraged and eagerly anticipated the fulfillment of my promise. I expected it to happen right away. Instead things became worse. Yet God continually encouraged me especially on days when I just wanted to give up. Scriptures about God’s faithfulness or songs about God’s promises would flood my mind and encourage me to hang on and wait for the promise to be fulfilled.
My husband had been a diabetic for many years and his health really began to deteriorate from 2005 on. In 2010 he was in the Emergency Room a few times, barely hanging onto life during one of them. Each time he recovered as I was always confident that he would.
It was Easter Sunday 2011. My husband had been rushed by ambulance to the Emergency Ward in the early afternoon. At about 4pm I was sitting alone in the Family Room when suddenly I felt a tremendous burst of peace envelope me. At the same time I heard so clearly that God had fulfilled the promise to me regarding my husband. I was filled with joy and excitement. This was the day I had been waiting for. My husband would recover just like all the other times, be home soon, and we could progress forward with God’s plans for our lives.
Now at 5pm, I answered the phone and the nurse at the other end at the hospital asked me to come back there right away. She said things were not looking good for my husband. I asked God for a word of encouragement and opened my Bible randomly. It opened to Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” I was perplexed and did not know what to make of this. I returned to the hospital and went in to see my husband. “He’s gone” the staff told me. “We’re sorry.”
I went home dazed and shocked. The phone rang again. It was a friend’s daughter. She said “God did not lie to you. He has fulfilled the promise that He gave and He will explain more in the days to come.” As I prayed I felt that this was true, and I looked to the Holy Spirit for comfort, but still felt a great depth of disappointment in how events had unfolded.
One day in the late spring of 2012 I went with a friend to a spot not far from me, where a beautiful ocean inlet meets a lovely park. I had been there many times just enjoying the ocean breezes, assorted flowers and various wildlife including the Canada Geese. Many people complained about the geese, but I enjoyed them, especially when it was “nursery time”. I loved seeing the little yellow balls of fluff follow their parents everywhere into their brand new world. What fun it was watching them tread along little patchwork type trails, filled with so many new delights of little flowers buzzing with bees, and shafts of new grass intertwined amongst soft mud slides for them to run and play.
On this day I packed two beach chairs with me and I sat on a blue one while my friend sat on a red one, which used to be the one my husband sat on. We had just sat down when feelings of great sadness poured over me. I began to wish that God’s “faithful promise” had come to pass the way I expected and instead of my friend sitting there, it would have been my husband.
Suddenly I saw several pairs of webbed feet come out of the water below and head towards me. There were parents and baby geese. They came to my side and all looked at me intently over and over again. Then they sat down on the ground beside me. I enjoyed them all afternoon. About 3 hours later my friend and I stood up and began to pack up our chairs. The geese then got up and waddled back into the water. On further trips to that place, I found that the geese had gone. I saw very few of them again the rest of the year. I thanked God for that day for I know He had brought the geese to comfort me.
One day in Eternity I will see the complete fulfillment of the Promise. In the meantime I rest in God’s comfort and know also how very Great is His Faithfulness!