A Guest Writer Series
He Sets a Table for You In the Midst of Hard Times
“So what is your plan? What are you gonna do when the house sells?” I pause for a brief moment before replying. This thought rushes in, “This is just absolutely nuts-I must be either crazy, avoidant, or completely full of faith in God.” To be honest, there could be a mixture of all three mixed in with my ever changing emotions in my journey with the Lord. “Well, I don’t know…we’ll figure it out when we need to,” I replied to her. I’m relying on the faith and hope that He will sustain my family and me as I lean on Jesus and what He says to be true.
Have you ever been there, friend, wondering just how in the world you are going to keep it all going? Well, grab a tea or coffee or the last bit of energy you may have and let’s chat for a bit.
When my sweet friend, Daisy, asked me to provide a piece for this blog series, I immediately laughed probably a lot like Sarah laughed when God said she was going to have a baby by the following year. I started wondering, “What can I write that could possibly bring some encouragement to someone during a difficult season?” Honestly, the well felt like it had run dry. What I can offer is simply part of my story-a little snapshot into this “desert place” we are facing and just how beautiful gathering around a table has been and will be during uncertain and difficult times.
“I just received a termination letter,” my husband says over the phone. In short, he lost his job without any reason, any cause, or any explanation. This news blasted into our lives on the heels of the passing of my dear cousin and my husband’s loss of his aunt, who was like another mother to him. My parents were staying long term with us each dealing with newly diagnosed health problems. Meanwhile, my mother in law struggled with her health while trying to care for her husband in and out of the hospital. I felt and,quite honestly, still feel like I’m on a battlefield. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of our children began struggling with some serious issues and the other was simply not fitting in at school- and needing additional help with studying and focus. My prayers during all this became fragmented, cries for help and strength. There are days where the only prayers I can muster are simply calling out to God His characteristics and His promises…because honestly it is all my spirit can do. Meditating on His sovereignty and faithfulness while recalling the promise of never leaving me has been a source of strength. “Be still and know that I am God”, “in the presence of the Lord is the fullness of joy”, and “I will never leave you” have been breathed into my soul and as I repeat them back, I feel the strength for that moment. While this practice has proven to be healing and transforming, it isn’t all the Lord is using.
The table in the desert place is really what this is about. My desert place today looks like losing a close family member, losing a job, uncertainty about children, and health concerns while also wanting to remain faithful in the work the Lord has called me to. Your desert place may look different but I wager you can relate to this list. While I still struggle at times to rely on the Lord completely, I am always amazed to find He has been preparing a way for me all along. A group of us had committed to gather at the table for a meal each month to listen to each other, and care for one another’s hearts. Let me be honest…while all of this has been happening in my life, the last thing I have wanted to do is gather together, listen to, and be there for other people. My plate is full-I am a wife, mom, daughter, daughter in law, bible study leader, bible teacher, volunteer, and substitute teacher….how in the world can I do anything else right now?! Although I’m not proud to admit these feelings, speaking them outloud to Jesus primarily but also to friends who will listen without judgment is freeing. The encouragement I have received from them pushes me past the limiting and intrusive thoughts, and this has been an undeniably significant part of this journey.
As I went to the table one evening, I arrived hungry, exhausted, and frustrated. I even remember saying, “I may only stay for a little while, gals.” But as I crunched down on the most delicious candied apple, my erected walls began crumbling. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to open up fully about the circumstances I was walking through. That night as we ate and poured out our hearts to each other, we ended up petitioning the Lord for what was heavy in each of our lives. It was sacred ground; a holy moment that just an hour before I wasn’t willing to receive. But isn’t this the beauty of gathering together around a table with your friends who love Jesus more than themselves or their agendas? Our food wasn’t elaborate that evening and the table wasn’t elaborately adorned, but the unforgettable beauty of that night was a group of women on their knees before their Creator crying to the One who heals, the One who provides, and the One who fights for us.
The table became an altar on which we reminded each other that only King Jesus can satisfy us in a way that lasts. While my physical body has experienced hunger since then, my spirit continues to draw encouragement even now from His miraculous gift that evening. As I write this, I’m planning to have them at my home in a few days. I’m smiling because even though nothing has changed in our uncomfortable and stressful situation, there is something that remains-Jesus. He is my source of strength. He is giving me the ability, energy, and excitement to plan a meal and prepare my table for our next meal. Setting the table is not just one more thing to do during the holiday season. Instead I want to remind you that gathering around the table is a gift one through which miracles happen with eternal repercussions. Remember, He sets the table first for you even in the midst of arid desert places and it is only sweet, King Jesus who provides in the midst of what feels impossible.
Amber writes in Dayton, OH from her dining table in front of a large bay window, always looking for the light. As a Mother, Writer, and Bible teacher she encourages women to open the word and befriend faithfulness. When she is not chauffeuring her children you will find her enjoying good food with her husband, reading, or setting the table for an impromptu lunch!
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