“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes, the many good things He has done . . . according to His compassion and many kindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
This has been the worst year of our lives. It has also been the best year of our lives. Allow me to explain. This year has been one of the hardest I’ve ever endured. My husband, who had previously had surgery for a work-related injury, was unable to return to his job. His income was abruptly cut off when the doctor reported the status of his condition. He was devastated and his company added insult to injury because they were unwilling to pay him the benefits he was due. In addition to all that, he was in constant pain. The financial, physical, and emotional toll was severe and heart-wrenching.
In the meantime, I became increasingly unhappy in the new job I had moved into, and when my employer learned that I was searching for another job, they hired my replacement before I could secure another position. Now we were down to no income. I searched diligently for employment where we lived, but the silence was deafening. No doors opened, not even the slightest crack. With no income, we realized that we couldn’t continue to live in our apartment. Now we were jobless and facing homelessness. As we talked and prayed, we realized the only option we had was to go back to home – the place we left more than twenty years before. It was not our first choice, but it seemed there was no other way. God, in His leading, confirmed that direction through very pointed and precise Scriptures that kept coming up in my daily reading.
Where would we live? None of our family were in a position to take us in, so we began to look for an inexpensive place to rent and prayed God would provide both the place and the funds. And He did. He opened up a great place that fit within out very strained budget and even provided for moving expenses. We began packing in a flurry of boxes, but three days before we were to roll out I woke up with a high fever and a badly red and swollen leg and foot. But there was much to be done and I pushed on through extreme pain. We loaded up with the help of friends and rolled into our new place. I couldn’t go any farther. My husband, son and his girlfriend unloaded the truck as my sister-in-law took me to the doctor. I had a severe infection in my leg and would be on a long course of antibiotics and flat of my back for nearly a month. And did I mention that we had no health insurance through all of this?
When I recovered, under the good care of my husband, I began to search for a job. I put in countless applications and scattered my resume all over the area. I went on several interviews, but nothing ever opened up. Our meager funds were quickly running out. I didn’t even know if we would be able to keep this good place that God had provided. Oh, how foolish that thought was. I began to question this entire move. Had we done the right thing? Had we made a mistake? Ah, but God is so kind – one morning the rumble of thunder gave way to torrents of water and an unmistakable urge to go stand on my back porch to watch the rain. In the middle of my backyard, which is shaded by a wall of trees, a rainbow appeared. Not in the sky as you might expect, but low and nearly on the ground. In that moment I knew that we were right where God wanted us to be. This move was by His design and His hand was over us. Peace flooded my soul as the rain flooded the yard. I quickly snapped a picture of the rainbow and minutes later it disappeared.
That rainbow was the turning point for me. Nothing had been resolved, we were still out of work, out of money and fighting with Disability, but I knew in the deepest part of my heart that God had a plan and a purpose for us right here. My prayers turned from desperation to thanksgiving. Thankful for God’s leading and provision. Thankful for family and friends who prayed for and encouraged us. Thankful for an unmistakable assurance of His tender love and care. Thankful for His nearness. Thankful for His good plans that were yet to unfold. A few days later, we received confirmation that my husband’s disability had been approved and he would be able to draw his benefits. We have thanks again with a huge sigh of relief.
But God still had more blessings in store. Months before I had hand delivered my resume to a small, local Christian college. The day I drove out to the campus, I felt the Spirit of God so powerfully and I asked the Lord to allow me to be part of what He was doing in this place – training men and women to take the Gospel around the world. I got a call to come for an interview and a week later walked into my first day at work. I never believed that dreams could come true, but here I was – I still pinch myself every morning to realize I actually get to work in this place. And with this job came much needed benefits like health insurance.
I have so much to be thankful for – a good place to live, a great place to work, God’s good provision, His leading, our faithful, praying friends and family. But there are two things I am grateful for most of all. I am grateful for His sovereign control over my life. When I thought everything was falling apart, He was causing everything to fall in place. I didn’t understand why we lost our jobs, why we had to move back home, but God had a plan and these abrupt twists and turns were just bends in the road to get me where He wanted me to be. I am also grateful for His presence. When I couldn’t go on, He was my Strength. When I was anxious and worried, He was my Rock. When our resources we low, He was our Provider. When I was sick and in pain, He was my Comforter and Healer. When I couldn’t see past the confusion of our circumstances, He was my vision of faithfulness – in the colorful shape of a rainbow. He wrapped His arms of love and grace around me. He carried me. He cared for me. He cared about me.
This Thanksgiving season will be full to overflowing with all the reasons I have to be grateful. God came into the valley – no even deeper – into the pit – and carried me out with His own strong arms. What other “god” would do that? Only One – the God of Heaven and Earth, my Rock and my Redeemer. Thank you, Father, for the best year of my life.
Beth Andrews is a writer, Bible teacher and speaker. She and her husband live in Dothan, Alabama and she works at The Baptist College of Florida. You can check out her blog: Deeper Roots at https://dbethandrews.wordpress.com/.