Preaching Truth to Ourselves in the Midst of Trials

Sometimes I feel a little selfish in that I’m primarily the one that gets to read and benefit from Sarah’s past journals and old Facebook posts – so I feel compelled to share from time to time! It was shortly after our move out west more than two years ago that Sarah’s health trials deepened and I became her full time caregiver assuming all of the household responsibilities as Sarah no longer physically could. She turned some of her attention then to journaling which I now get to read and consider how to use going forward.

I love what Sarah wrote in this post two years ago because behind these brave words was a woman who struggled greatly at times to believe and live them out. I had a front row seat to intimately watch as her body slowly faded away, yet by God’s grace her mind and spirit remained unbowed though greatly wearied. Hindsight can have a tendency to whitewash our past memories of the most painful elements and those on the outside can overlook or miss those realities in favor of a focus on the noble struggle. Sarah and I were both human replete with all the failures of us fallen image-bearers of God. I could tell you of the countless tears of anguish, crushing physical, emotional, and mental weariness, endless quest for answers that never fully came, the nights of depression where the darkness did not lift in the morning, the slow but steady loss of independence as Sarah became mostly homebound, and the shadowy fade of hopes and dreams for the future. So consider that context when Sarah wrote what she did.

Sarah’s life verse was Galatians 2:20 which she quoted here. She preached truth to herself asking God to give her the faith to live it out. Sarah looked ahead in faith to the day she had no idea was coming as soon as it did when her faith would become sight: “I’m thankful that someday, He will take me to Heaven and I will spend eternity face to face with my risen Savior, praising Him, with a perfect body, and there will be no more suffering or sorrow – that is ultimately where I place my hope and longing.”

If I sound endlessly repetitive on this one point about preaching truth to ourselves, it’s because that is what made all the difference. Our volatile feelings, frail emotions, and finite understanding ought not be the basis on which we live our lives. However, the cacophony of those voices threatens to overwhelm us along with the world all around us. Each of those is preaching a worldview to us, and the vast majority are diametrically opposed to the truth of God’s Word. If you aren’t daily reading, meditating, and memorizing Scripture, how can you hope to hold back the tide of wrong thinking? May I also encourage you to journal and write down your own thoughts on what you’re learning and going through. We are very forgetful people! I promise it will be a help to you when you go and look back, and just might be able to be a help to others too even after you are gone!

For those that keep telling me to write more, I hear you and am humbled to know that what I share is a blessing to others. I’m working on a few series to be published right now as I dip my toe into broader writing projects and am considering a book/booklet project over my sabbatical this summer.

“We’ve shared this with some of our family already, but thought I would share with our extended family and friends…

I have been really struggling physically the last few months, but we thought it was mainly the stress of moving. However, I have continued to decline health-wise. Last month, we found out my body was no longer processing my thyroid medication effectively — so not just a simple dosage increase needed, but my body is having difficulty actually utilizing/processing the hormones correctly – which means I have profound symptoms of hypothyroidism, really too many to list…but the worst would be extreme fatigue, constantly freezing-cold, very poor sleep, and getting sick constantly, among other significant issues.

Unfortunately, the healthcare provider I was seeing was not able to determine a solution. The Lord led me to a new doctor this week and he is very gifted with diagnosing and treating more complex hormonal-imbalance issues, which is what I am experiencing. Not only am I dealing with basically zero thyroid function/severe hypothyroidism, but I have several other hormone levels that are practically non-existent. He needs to do more extensive testing which will take a few weeks to get back, and then he will hopefully be able to start correcting what is going on.

While we are very thankful to our Heavenly Father for providing a competent doctor who feels confident he can help me – although it will take at least a couple of months before I might start feeling better since we have to wait for test results, then start treatment, and then wait for it to take effect.

Physically I am very weak and discouraged – so having to wait one more day, let alone multiple weeks, to start working towards feeling better, feels like forever. Please pray for myself and Daniel, that the Lord will continue to encourage our hearts, and strengthen me spiritually and physically, as we wait on Him to provide healing. Daniel has taken care of me in every way, and I am so thankful for his selfless, Christ-like love for me.

Our Heavenly Father has carried us through this all, and so much more in the past, and we know He is sanctifying us through this trial. We know His love and timing is perfect, and that we can trust Him completely with all of these circumstances, even when in our human frailty we don’t understand it all, we can still praise Him for His faithfulness, sovereignty, and wisdom.

We live in a fallen world, and physical suffering is a part of that. As Christians, God uses trials to draw us closer to Him, to purify us, and conform us to the image of His precious Son. I’m thankful that some day, He will take me to Heaven and I will spend eternity face to face with my risen Savior, praising Him, with a perfect body, and there will be no more suffering or sorrow – that is ultimately where I place my hope and longing. All because of what Christ did on the cross for me. If you do not have that assurance, or do not understand what Jesus accomplished on the cross, I would be happy to share with you what He has done in my life, and the hope that can be found in God’s word alone. Sorry this was so long! If you made it to the end – thank you for taking the time to read this, and for your prayers.”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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. -Galations 2:20

Pain and Affliction Are Merciful Gifts

Sarah candid

My daily prayer since Sarah passed away last year is that God would not let me forget the life-changing sanctifying things I have learned. He has been faithful in answering that through countless ways. Sometimes it has been when the walls of grief surrounded me threatening to blot out every ray of hope so I had only Him to turn to. Other times it is in the innumerable small joys of everyday life that I instinctively want to turn and share with her. Each moment like those is a gift because of how each one points me to eternal truths.

John Piper writes in “This Momentary Marriage” that “Being married in the moment of death is both a bitter and sweet providence. Sweet because at the precipice of eternity the air is crystal-clear, and you see more plainly than ever the precious things that really matter about your imperfect lover. But being married at death is also bitter, because the suffering is doubled as one watches the other die …. The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church. Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.”

Pain and affliction are merciful gifts from God though because of how they help refine me (James 1:2-4), remind me of transcendent eternal truths (Romans 8:18), and restore my wandering focus (Psalm 119:71). Every time I feel the pang of longing for marriage, I can rejoice even through my sorrow of loss! That emotion is calling my attention to the truth that this world isn’t my home. It’s reminding my heart of the greater promise hidden in marriage of the relationship between Christ and the church! Each sigh of desire is but a shimmery foretaste and fleeting glimpse of what we will all experience in eternity as the glorious Bride of Christ. In that longing I have for what Sarah and I shared in marriage is a far greater truth about the longing for Christians as a bride of Christ. In that search for oneness and intimacy between a husband and wife that includes such close friendship yet also transcends it, I have had just a small foretaste of the relationship with Christ I will one day experience perfectly.

BUT, God!

Daniel and Sarah candid

BUT God.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
– Romans 8:18, 26-28

Sarah wrote the following one year ago today as she shared many of the things God had been teaching her following her emergency surgery.

“I am beyond the words capable of fully expressing just how thankful, humble, and relieved I am. My Heavenly Father is so gracious.

His love, power, and faithfulness truly overwhelm us both – and the outpouring of His love has been abundant – through His feet and hands: the living body of Christ 

I will be transparent about the not-so-fun stuff: not eating or drinking by mouth for 12 days, not really sleeping (especially since coming to the ICU – even though I am indescribably thankful to be here!)….not having my pain level drop as fast as I was hoping it would….my legs/feet feel like they’re so swollen that they could easily weigh about 100 lbs each 😳 Plus some chest pain in addition to my lungs not “bouncing back” as fast as we/they would like, as well as needing supplemental oxygen (especially at night) – oh and why are nasal cannulas so obnoxious/annoying? Of course, then there is the whole fun aspect of being hooked up to what really feels like a MILLION tubes and other machines….so yes, it takes a tole on you, of course! 😢…before I came up to ICU I had nicknamed my IV pole “Big Bertha” 😂

BUT God.

He is sustaining us. I know when the surgeon and ICU nurses tell me I’m doing so much better that they REALLY mean it – and the fact that I could sit up in a chair yesterday for several hours, plus walk 2 big “laps” around the floor…that my kidneys aren’t in “temporary failure” anymore, and my white count is at a normal-ish enough level that they’ll even tell me what it is – instead of changing the topic because they don’t want to stress me out 😕 – so those are all huge gains!! 🙌🏼

That an incredibly–gifted and skilled critical-care float nurse who has done this for many years – just could not stop looking at my chart all day while taking care of me – asking me questions again and again about the last week, as well as my symptoms before coming into the hospital….and saying “WOW!…I just cannot believe what you’ve been through and that you are doing as well as you are…that you are doing so well just in general!”.

Then when another RN says over and over to me last night when I was constantly apologizing for not being able to remember certain things – “well, despite the many medications you have to be on, I honestly cannot believe how lucid you are, given how strong these meds are!” — so, to me it is “just” the power of the Holy Spirit and I want Him to receive the praise! But believe me – cognitive function is still a HUGE struggle right now (and wow, am I more thankful than ever for my husband who is exceedingly patient) – but again, that just encouraged my heart to know that it could be much worse!

All of these praises….these miracles and mercies….they are all due to our great and almighty Physician – who has done incredible miracles and answered very specifically SO many of your/our prayers. I am completely overwhelmed (and I know Daniel is too) by all of it.

Of course, then there’s my husband – who has really never left my side, or failed to care for me in any way. I think he has fulfilled more of his marriage vows to me in the last 4.5 years then many have in twice as long or more….and no, this is NOT a competition – but just what God has determined for us – and truly what HE can do in absolutely any marriage when you submit to Him and His biblical plan for husband and wife.

However – the last 2+ weeks, his Christ-like love and sacrificial-leadership have been overwhelming – without Jesus Christ and him, I could not be doing this right now.

The greatest outward-praise I can hope to give to God through our marriage during this trial – is that multiple nursing staff members have noticed his love/care/tenderness and have specifically asked if we are still newlyweds? 😊That fills my heart with praise that we can have a testimony of HIS love flowing throughout our marriage!

There is still a LONG WAY to go healing-wise….I find myself so very prone to battling impatience and anxiety at moments…just wanting to feel NORMAL 😐

….worried they’ll send me out of ICU before I’m ready, concerned about complications,
and wondering how long it will take to heal….WHEN I can eat and drink again and stop hallucinating about food?!? 😆😂🥛🍰🥓🍇🍎🥑🌽🍳🍜🌮

So, I really felt taking time this morning to give God ALL of the glory and point my affections and desires back to Him – where they belong – would help me fight this battle in my flesh – especially when I am feeling so very weak.

Also, to once again THANK every single person – young, old,
or un-categorized 😉 – for their boundless love, encouragement, and prayers ❤”


There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall, the cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow. And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel; We are tempted to believe God does not know. When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.
Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, in the presence of the King, bow the knee. – ‘Bow the Knee’

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills HIS purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness! – Psalm 56 + 57

Faith Grows Step by Step

Daniel and Sarah (1)

I am so thankful for how God used the progressive nature of last year’s trial to grow Sarah’s and my faith step by step. I’m grateful for those days when we had to fight for our faith in desperation and pain. That time illuminated then just as it continues to do now for me the stark contrast between the temporal and eternal. Each experience drove us in dependence to our knees, molded our characters, and made plain the reality of the firm knowledge this world isn’t our home. Gratitude for pain in the moment is hard and we struggled with that last year. As I look back though, I rejoice in what God wrought in both of our lives through Sarah’s trials.

Friends, you don’t have to face quite the same circumstances to reap the benefits of the Holy Spirit’s conviction though! Perhaps visualize yourself in similar circumstances as us last year and ask God to show you what ought to be changed. And when trials do come, be thankful for these gifts, what one of my favorite authors Vaneetha Rendall Risner called “gifts wrapped in black but gifts nonetheless,” because of how they can refine your faith and bring glory to God (James 1).

Sarah wrote the following in her journal one year ago today and these words now preach truth to all the rest of us still walking through our earthly journey.

“This weekend I found myself facing many life – impacting obsessions and concerns that I had refused to acknowledge – and/or I was just wilfullly ignoring that these sin-issues were a significant hindrance to my walk with my Heavenly Father….I have been continually consumed with my own needs/wants/selfish desires – much more than being consumed with what is most important to my Heavenly Father: simply trusting in, and obeying Him alone! In Christ alone my hope is found.

Even though we most often think we want to know what the future is going to hold … truly, it is trials like these that remind me how wise our Heavenly Father is, in *not* revealing what’s to come. Because I could never have been able to take in the knowledge of what these last few weeks would hold, all at once. He is so wise, gracious, loving, and perfect – He knows exactly how to care for each one of His children, and to lead us along the path He has prepared for us.” – Sarah Kopp

My Prayer for Today

My prayer for today from Psalm 78:32, 38-39 – Lord give me the strength of belief that I not “in spite of all this, [I] still sin; despite His wonders, [I] did not believe.” Yet, Lord when I do sin may you, “Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for my [my] iniquity and did not destroy [me]. He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. He remembered that [I] am but flesh a wind that passes and does not come again.”

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Daniel and Sarah - Hospital

One year ago today Sarah and I were sitting in the ER trying to process the news that she was in serious danger from a crisis health situation we had no idea was brewing. I can still hear the surgeon’s words “you both need to understand how serious this is.” My ears heard what he said and my brain thought it comprehended it, but I had no idea just how deep and long the valley of the shadow of death would end up being. Yet, the Lord was and is my faithful Shepherd.

As I continue to reflect back on everything that happened last year I recognize ever more clearly God’s mercy and grace. Had we known everything that was yet to happen we would not have been able to face it. Thankfully for us, God’s grace is sufficient for one day at a time and as James 4:13-15 reminds us of our limited perspective of time anyways. How much better it is to rest in new mercies each morning! At the same time too, each successive challenge and trial prepared us for one yet to come. I’ve written before about that especially in regard to our three miscarriages. Sarah wrote last year “God is the author of life” and I know that Sarah is now more alive in heaven than she ever was on earth. Going through trials can tempt us to have an egocentric perspective where it becomes all about us and “why me.” We should strive instead to have a theocentric perspective and recognize that our sovereign, all-loving God is at work for His glory and our good. Our trouble comes so often when we only think of what is “good” from our perspective, not from the eternal and omniscient perspective of God.

As finite humans we often struggle to understand an infinite God and His workings. Add in our feeble emotions and we can quickly lose perspective of what is right and true. This is where we have to consciously preach truth to ourselves from God’s Word.

Our heart says God must not love us to let us go through trials. God’s Word says in Eph. 2:4 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,”. Our heart says God must not be in control. Jesus said in John 9:3 about the man born blind “that the works of God might be displayed in Him” explicitly meaning every sickness and disability is under His control. Our heart says God doesn’t really care about me and my circumstances. Jesus says in Matthews 10 that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and “you are of more value than many sparrows.” Our heart says God doesn’t understand my pain. Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Our heart says “why?” God’s Word replies to “what ultimate end” in James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I could go on and on, but this is how I remind myself what is true when my heart and emotions struggle to remember. Whether we realize it or not we are always meditating on something. Much of the time it’s what might be called “self-talk” and much of the self-help world today tries to just tell you how to think positively to impact this. Christians don’t have to conjure up anything on our own because we have the “living and active Word of God.” This is how Ephesians 5 talks about the “washing of water of the Word” when our minds are so saturated with truth that there is little ability for lies and error to take root.

It’s been said before that either you’re in a trial or you’re getting ready to go into one. I encourage you to likewise consciously preach truth unto yourself. Only the words of God have the power to transform you and your circumstances.

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” – Psalm 119:49-50