October 1, 2013

Living in the Desert

by Brittany Tedesco & Emily Coleman

Emily (whose face is next to her father´s) joined her siblings to celebrate their parents´ 35th anniversary in September.

Emily Coleman, manager of Christian Aid´s Donor Relations Division, is a people-magnet. Her easy laughter and good-natured teasing draw people in. And once they´ve gotten to know her, they discover she´s authentic, honest, and steady.

Characteristics like these make for solid relationships. Emily´s parents and six siblings are the same way, which explains why they´re so close. They share a rare familial camaraderie…which made the announcement in staff meeting a few months ago hard to comprehend: Emily's mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

We prayed, choking back tears, knowing how this would strike at the core of the tight-knit family.

Emily has cut back her hours at work, driving to Richmond several times a week to be with and care for her mom. She lives in that place between denial and despair–aware of reality but refusing to give up hope. In his book A Praying Life, Paul E. Miller describes this place as the "desert."

"God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden," Miller writes. "Desert life sanctifies you. You have no idea you are changing. You simply notice after you've been in the desert awhile that you are different."

In her blog, Emily writes about her experience in the desert. With her permission, I've included one of her posts, written in early August. She hopes it will encourage others going through painful circumstances.

But Even If He Does Not

As a kid I would read all these Bible stories and think of how silly the characters were for not believing in Jesus. Not believing He would provide a son, provide protection from the lion´s mouth, provide deliverance for His people from the enemy, provide food and water, raise the dead to life or even provide safety from the scorching fire. I would think, "Don´t they know that God is awesome and will save them? Why can´t they remember that He fed them yesterday?" I would almost laugh at the thought that God wouldn´t protect His children.

How naive. How awesome I thought I was, "God will always protect me and save me from pain and suffering." I already knew the end of the stories I read. I knew there was going to be a son for Abraham; I knew the fate of the three men in the fire; I knew the land was going to be handed over to the Israelites on a silver platter. I read through those stories in one sitting. How many years did they not know? How long did they have to have faith? How long did they pray for salvation from their enemies? Much longer than the 10 minutes it takes to read their story.

Those three men were about to be thrown into a furnace. A furnace so hot, the men who had to throw them into it died. And so they said:

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty´s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

Last night as I prayed, I acknowledged that with one touch of His garment, mom can be restored to full health. With one word, she can have years added onto her life. She can see her babies graduate from high school and college. With a simple command, she can see weddings, meet her grand-babies and be a part of our lives like she should be able to.

Then the passage in Daniel came to mind. I tried to push it out. I can´t think like that. He has to heal her. It´s the only option. But there it was, staring me in the face and haunting my mind. What happens if He doesn´t? Who is Lord then? Is the Lord still holy? Is He still mighty to save? Who is my Rock if not the Lord?

So I lay there, praying to the Only One who has control over this. The One who holds my mother in the palm of His hand. I might not believe it in my head, but my heart knows, Jesus is still Lord. He is still mighty, holy and worthy. And even if He doesn´t bring restoration to my sweet momma´s body, He is still worthy to be praised. And while I have moments of rage, or days of confusion filled with grief and doubt, I know the Lord cares for His children and I will daily pray for healing and restoration.

Read more on Emily's blog at:

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Mark- posted October 7, 2013
Thank you for posting this, I relate from a different place of grief and suffering but grief and suffering none the less. I just recently got yanked out of my silent wilderness to be placed in the middle of a desert oasis next to pure cool water and told I could not drink the water yet. A simple reminder that our Heavenly Father is our sovereign Lord and knows the beginning from the end is a needed refresher to pursue Him in the midst of the pain. I was ready to give up this morning on fighting in faith and hope till I read this blog. Much like Emily I grew up learning these wonderful stories and how amazingly God would come through, but at 39 I have gone through enough experiences of God saying no that I can get kind of cynical at our Lords intervention. Our God is bigger than the circumstance and blogs like this one are a perfect reminder to put myself in the right aligned perspective; He also is sovereign and His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts. He still is Lord and will always remain there I have to submit to His Lordship and be reminded to recognize that as absolute truth.