By Mary Wenzl
I have been on a journey for several years now, one of “Restoration.” I believe most people have rough periods in their lives where things don’t go as they had hoped. My rough spots involved being married to an alcoholic husband, getting divorced, and then raising two children as a single parent. My ex-husband died about two years after we had divorced, which sent me and my two teenagers in a tailspin for several years. They proved to be very challenging children to raise. It did not help that I suffered from severe depression, developed health issues, such as diabetes, and had financial problems. I was self-employed but ended up having to close my business because my health would not allow me to continue working. A very rough spot for me was when I had to declare bankruptcy.
None of these life events were how I had envisioned my life transpiring when I was young and dreamed about my future. What has gotten me though the rough spots is learning to trust God; I have leaned on him for comfort, strength, and peace of mind. My ability to do that, lean on God and to trust Him, did not happen quickly. The process was slow and had to be learned through practice. None of us is born with this skill, but I found that my daily sanity was not possible unless I exercised my trust.
One of the bible verses I have leaned on through the years is found in the book of Joel:
“I will restore (or pay back) to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”Joel 2:25-26,
I interpreted this verse to mean that God could restore me to a better place; that I could eventually be made whole again. I may not have gotten the biblical interpretation exactly correct, but it still gave me hope. Restore is the theme for this month’s blog. It means ‘to give back or return; to be in possession again of something that was lost; or to return something to its original or former condition.’
I have spent a lot of time isolating at home for the past year due to the Pandemic. I have seen God’s hand on my life countless times during this time period. This last year has really highlighted for me the areas of my life that God has been restoring. My journey actually started several years before the Pandemic began. In 2017, my health was pretty bad; I had lost a lot of mobility due to severe osteoarthritis in my hips. I could not bend over to put on shoes, had balance problems, had severe problems with walking and had to use a cane. I had trouble doing just basic activities of daily of living and self care. I had little energy to do normal, daily tasks, and lacked motivation to make changes in my life. I did not think my life would get any better and had resigned myself to being handicapped.
I had financial struggles also due to my health limiting my ability to work. On October 13, 2017, things changed for me. I had what many people would describe as “a God experience.” The details would take too long to explain in this blog, but the end result was that things crystallized for me, and my daily relationship with God changed. I regained my hope. Since then, God has been restoring my life. Giving things back to me that I thought were gone for good.
God has restored my health, energy and motivation. My health has markedly improved. I had both my hips replaced in 2018, and I have had other health conditions treated as well. In the three years since my hip surgeries, I continue to notice the return of numerous physical abilities that I have not had for 15-20 years. The pandemic allowed me to have a lot of unstructured time at home with no expectations to be someplace by a certain time. This freedom of time has given me the opportunity to regain my mental focus and my physical energy. I started experiencing the motivation to do new activities, like hobbies, that I had long ago abandoned. I also found again the motivation to make changes in my life, including taking on cleaning tasks that I have put off for, literally, years.
God has even restored my financial health. In the past year I have been able to make purchases for personal and home items that I wondered if I would ever be able to afford again. This has even included replacing my car. God promises to meet our daily needs if we trust Him. This last year has been amazing, at times seeming miraculous, in how He has fulfilled this promise. One of my favorite passages on this subject is found in the book of Matthew. These words were particularly helpful to me during the past year of uncertainty.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Matthew 6: 24-34