The “Beast from the East,” Hospital A&E’s … and Strength in the Lord

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Ireland, with its temperate climate rarely gets much snow (if any) but the recent severe weather conditions, aptly named “the Beast from the East,” brought storm “Emma” and drifts of 7feet high -perhaps even more in many areas. Even the sea and waterfalls were frozen in some places! For a few days we didn’t venture out, as our local road had high hard-packed snow. All schools, colleges and places of work closed because of the arctic weather conditions. Directly after all of this I was confronted with another type of blizzard – frequent trips to different hospitals with two members of the family. It is at times like this that we really must cast our burdens upon the Lord!

I am very much reminded of an old phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men,” which has its origin in a verse of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” poem written in 1785…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men,

Go often askew,

And leave us nothing

But grief and pain,

For promised joy!”

It is said that the poet was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, which the poor little creature had built for the winter. Robert Burns was so touched by this that his brother claimed that he composed the entire poem while still holding the plough. As I surveyed the fields around our home recently, I felt sorry for any creature trying to survive the blizzards and freezing temperatures and also acknowledged that, really, we cannot make any plans for the future that we can be certain of. The apparent security of the material things we surround ourselves with, like the little field mouse’s nest, can be obliterated in a split second. With all our modern technology, both the weather and many of the circumstances in our lives are beyond our control. We just have no idea what a day will bring forth!

If anyone had told me last year what lay ahead in these first few months of 2018, I would have sighed and said: “You’re not being serious… really?” But the Lord has given me strength and great encouragement in the midst of unpleasant situations.

“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint: and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40v28-31)

He also deepens our faith and we live from moment to moment in His strength, with the assurance that when our lives belong to Him, He is in control – even through seemingly impossible situations. We “are not out of the woods” yet with regard to health issues but I rest in His unfailing love, remembering the little Bible that my father and mother gave me over 40 years ago. Perhaps she was thinking of the unknown future that night, when the Lord guided my mother to write this lovely verse in that Bible: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41v10) It seemed strange to me at the time, for I was young and had little to concern me, but the passing years have brought many reasons to rest on this unfailing promise.

Her now faded handwriting on the old Bible and the love with which she wrote the verse so long ago live on, spurring me on, challenging me, encouraging me to trust her Saviour and mine, in the knowledge that “…He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121v4)

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