Do you ever feel like "you can't see the forest for the trees"? Sometimes we get so close to a situation that we get bogged down in minutia and forget the bigger events being played out. This applies to parenting, marriage, ministries, housework, etc. For us, this applies to Dale.
Don't get me wrong---we love Dale and can't imagine our family without him. We are so thankful each day that we didn't have to find out how that would feel. But sometimes we as a family have to take a giant step backwards and look at the bigger picture God is mapping out. We get frustrated by daily struggles with Dale's unsteadiness, his constant memory problems (he acts like he has Alzheimer's!), the continual need for someone to be near him/hold his hand when walking somewhere or going up/down the stairs, the incessant jerking and falling, listening to his slower speech as he tells us some joke or story. I, especially, start feeling sorry for myself, as I feel I bear the brunt of Dale's care. Can't you just hear the whine in my feel-sorry-for-me voice? "I'm the only one who ever helps Dale. I'm the only one who walks around the store with him. I'm the only one who walks up the stairs behind him. I'm the only one who cares if he falls. I'm the one who has to be the mediator between the girls and Dale when he's being stubborn and they're fed up." Of course, this is merely my perception of events, but each of us feels that way. We each begin to focus on how much extra work Dale is causing us to the point that we forget: we're living every day with a miracle straight from God's hands!
Two and a half years ago, God reached down and changed the future I had all planned out for my family. God proved His might and His power, He returned life to Dale's body after all hope was lost, and He showed that He can and does still answer prayer "now in this time." Oh, the rejoicing and praise and extolling of God's power that was heard then! Our family, our church, our friends, and new friends across the globe joined as one in praise and worship of our God. We felt the Holy Spirit's presence as never before because we could actually see God working in our lives.
And then we had to go home. We left the hospital, returned to our house, and began the (sometimes) drudge of everyday life: therapies, school, church, home, repeat. We began to realize that, while God had answered our prayers to make Dale wake up, he would never be the same again---and neither would we. Every day we see just how different this Dale is from the one we used to have. Every day we are faced with the increasing knowledge that Dale's brain just can't hold on to information the way it used to. Studies are ever so much harder for him now. Every day we see Dale struggle with stuff that should be so easy, like walking, standing upright, writing. Every day we think about the fact that our girls are growing up and will head off to college before we know it, but Dale probably won't. He probably won't be able to hold a job. He probably won't ever get married. He'll probably stay with us the rest of our lives. One day we'll have to worry about who will care for him after we're gone. (His sisters will step up!)
You see? Like Peter, we take our eyes off Jesus and train our sights on what's around us. We become fearful or angry or judgmental or sour because of "what we have to deal with each day." Isn't that what we say? "You have no idea what I have to deal with." Instead, we need to refocus our thoughts, energy, and sight on the One Who will never leave us nor forsake us. God is bigger than all our problems. This does not just mean He can overcome them; this also means He is more important than them. At this point, only God knows the future. We make plans, but only God knows what will actually happen. When we take that step back and see again the miracle God has given us in our son, then we become thankful again for His goodness. We stop fighting and bickering and lashing out in anger and start praising God again. We remember that this life is temporal, but eternity lasts forever. I can't wait to get to Heaven and see Jesus, but the next thing I want to see is my son walking with no problem again. I want to see him running!
Our lives are a testimony to those around us about God. We can be a testimony of God's failure to do what we want or His lack of care for us or just how phony our "walk with God" really is. Or we can be a testimony of God's amazing grace, His love that covers all sins, His mercy and forgiveness, and His incredible miraculous power to save, heal, and keep. We get to choose.
Galatians 2: 20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me."