Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I am the wife-mother in our Baird nest of three. As the wife-eagle I love and care for Bob, who suffers from a debilitating illness called Meige Syndrome. As a mother-eagle, I love and watch over our daughter Elizabeth, whose mind broke over the sorrow of her dad’s condition. Her diagnoses: a psychotic-break causing visual and aural hallucinations. Crushed. That was me. Like an old car in a junkyard metal crushing device in a bad movie. A dark mist of misery hung thickly around my soul. I felt abandoned by joy. I knew God had not skipped out on me, but emotional grieving for our loss was not easily overcome. It lasted almost two years before I began to see clearly again. Now, joy washes in, most often in soft, cleansing waves.
In my present joy, my God-given desire is to share his beautiful qualities that rescued and succored me. In one profoundly life-altering lesson, I learned I might have endured our close-clinging tragedies in another way. My new morsel of wisdom: I should have sought a spirit of bearing burdens together, even when physical healing did not come for Bob, nor emotional for Elizabeth (and still hasn’t).
Why did I see only myself as the eagle God was blessing in the way described in this scripture? That blessing where you really do run and don’t get weary, emotionally or spiritually. Of course, I prayed for healing for Bob and Elizabeth, but the way I prayed for them put them one spiritual space and me in another. In my heavy responsibility, rather than acknowledging God as omnipotent, I strove hard to be our family’s everything. I had put myself in position of God. This was not a conscious choice, but certainly a bad place to be.
Hindsight is a great device. While the past is not a permanent place to dwell, the better perspective gained by recounting God’s gifts of power-not-to-faint and strength-not-to-fall is worth the looksee. For the last three years, since coming home from DR Congo for the last time, I have turned to the book of Isaiah. Bob’s syndrome has taken over his body, there will be no going back to Africa for Bob. I have lost the strong, independent man I married. Elizabeth depends on an anti-psychotic med, but her personality has changed and she sleeps 12 hours a day. My daughter is gone too. And with this, my personal purpose in life—36 years in missions—is gone. A sad vision in my rearview mirror.
So how have those gifts of power-not-to-faint and strength-not-to-fall sustained me besides maneuvering the maze of doctor appointments and dancing along the edges of a grim financial picture? Here’s how! In every way, in every moment, God has held me, sung over me, and through the Holy Spirit, comforted me. Like on a Congo morning, when expecting a flight bringing mail and good things from big-city Bukavu, but a dark mass of clouds hovers over the Bomili airstrip in the Ituri Rain Forest. And then, in a matter of hours, the junk clears away, leaving brilliant, jungle, sunshine and the plane can land. In this way, God has rolled back my grey, agonizing grief. The lesson: let God carry the burden, it is only God who, beyond all human capacity, heals and helps best. God gifted humanity with the choice to be ever in his presence. No excuses for me. I must always think of him, love him, and fully realize his inside-outside presence and power.
Recently, while rereading Isaiah 40 for the millionth time, the Spirit nudged me to notice his use of plural words: “youths, men, and they.” Wow! Not singular! Plural! God is speaking of a convocation of eagles, of the body of Christ, of our family—to Bob, Elizabeth and me together. God didn’t say he would choose just one eagle to soar, leaving that one super-eagle to care for the rest! I had it wrong. Did God cast blame, or make me feel shame? In no way! He lovingly taught and forgave, and may have intimated that with all this soaring, I might find another major prophet to explore as deeply as my old friend Isaiah.