This, by many accounts, has been the toughest year of my life. It's been humiliating, painful and testing on so many levels. No matter how I try to 'spiritualize' it, I just can't. It's just been a crap year. Let me give you a quick month by month summary of what's happened:
January - HCC suffers a split, friends and work colleagues leave. The pain, confusion and discomfort during this time and some of the most draining weeks I have experienced as my convictions and values were tried and tested. Some Friendships have never been the same since.
January - financial pinch is felt - very tight at home basically breaking even. No salary increase is possible as the company I worked for couldn't afford it.
March - SARS tells us that Mandy owes R7500 in unpaid undisclosed taxes. We challenge the decision, get R500 odd less, but still have to pay R7000 which we never had.
April - Our car, Renault Megane, suffers a mechanical problem. After diagnoses of brake pads, a service and something else - R4,800
May - Something doesn't feel right on the car - gearbox problem, clutch problem and it costs us R17,000
June - very good friends left to Jozi, Claire and Charl. Our kids were very close. It was tough.
July - Mandy and her mom in a car accident. Both taken to hospital and both suffered injuries that cost money to treat and both had pain for some time after. A very hard time, emotionally and physically for all of us. Annual medical aid savings almost drained; only half way through the year.
July - financially, we are doing really badly. We are taking knocks at every turn, no increases at work, we under huge pressure.
July - I find a new job. Comes with a company car, no increased salary so in order for it to be a 'better' option, we need to sell the Renault. To cut a long story short, because I didn't have an aircon in the car and that costs R19,000 to fix, I had to sell the car for R28,000 less than what I owed. Had to refinance the R28,000.
July - The new job was exciting but came to with its own set of pressures, time away from home in travel, around 5 nights a month.
September - Mandy parents have to leave - big thing for Mandy and our kids, no more support for her, no baby sitters, tough time for all of us. A real sense of loneliness.
September - My mom diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and given 6 months to live. Major effect on our family and Ross especially.
October - Michael falls ill, temperature hits 40, doesn't sleep for 5 nights, heavy on Mandy especially, and he is hospitalized. Medication costs are big.
October - geyser leaking and causes leaks in the one bedroom, dripping roof during funeral preparations. Bathroom is flooded, into the bedroom, geyser needs to be fixed - cost of over R5000
October - My mom deteriorates at an extraordinary rate and on the 23rd, she passed away.
The irony of this is that I began a small group at the very beginning of the year called "Supernatural Lifestyle Group" whereby we were, as a group, going to press into truths and experientially trust God for signs, wonders and miracles in our lives, whether they be healing, financial, whatever, but longed to see the stuff!!!!!! (Challenging!!!!!!)
Have you ever watched the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness"? It's the most amazing story of Christopher Gardner who got hit by so many obstacles in a period of 5 years, through no crime or dishonesty of his own, that sent him right to the bottom. Separation from his wife, no job, no money and he had to take care of his little son. No matter what hit him, he carried on fighting and persevering. To him the fight was never over. A defining moment was when one night he hid with his son in a toilet cubicle in an underground subway to sleep because he had no where else to go. No shelter or welfare could look after him and his boy that night. He held his son in his arms, kept his foot on the door so tight that no one could come in and discover them, and he cried. He had hit rock bottom.
I came to that moment in a way. Not as bad as Chris, but in a way, I felt helpless. Money was always short, sometimes not having enough to pay doctors or buy medication, credit card was maxed out on car repairs and hospital bills - not through careless spending. I felt as though life was hitting me to the ground and even when I was hit to the ground in pain, it carried on kicking me so that I stayed there and didn't bother getting up. One thing after another, one hit, one kick, after another...
The thing about life is that it is filled with facts. Whereas my life, as a son of God, is built and founded on truth. You see, facts change. All the time. The news reports the facts and those facts are changing. But truth is constant, truth never changes. You can bet you life on truth. The fact is, I'm broke. But the truth is, I'm loaded. The fact is, I'm bleeding from the exhaustion. The truth is, the joy of The Lord is my strength.
So, I want to share some truths with some of you, who like me, feel beat down, who feel shot down, who feel like the wind has been hit out of their sails....I have some truth which you need to stand on and shout out:
You are more than a conquerer through Christ Jesus
Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world
You are the head and not the tail
The joy of The Lord is your strength
When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Lord will raise up a standard against him
No weapon formed against you shall prosper
I walk through the fire and I shall not burn, I swim through the sea and I will not burn because The Lord thy God is with me
Life is tough. Yes. And we do go through valleys. Yes. It won't always be rosey and polka dots. The facts will change all the time. But the truth is that God is good, and He is good all the time. His mercy and favour follows me all the days of my life. Tough times is not his punishment. They're a part and parcel of this journey we call life. But it doesn't change the truth that we are His, His love for us in unchanging and that He delights in us completely. We can experience his peace that surpasses all understanding, know his supernatural love through the pain and feel his tangible grace as we walk through the fires. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the lifter of our heads and the lover of our souls.
Do you know what Jesus said to his disciples? "When I return, will I find faith in the earth?" Faith isn't just a feeling of "yeah, I believe God for this and that." Faith is an unwavering, unmoving, resolute firm stand on the very words of that what God has said, he will do. No matter what comes my way! Faith is perseverance for the breakthrough. Faith is standing and even when I want to fall, I still stand. Faith IS a supernatural thing! Given by God. When you flowing in faith, you flowing in the supernatural. I might not have seen my cancer stricken mother healed, but I want to tell you God heals cancer patients! I might not have seen my bills disappear and money coming out of no where, but I want to tell you that our Father is El-Shaddai, the God of more than enough. I might not have experienced angels stopping the car that crashed into my wife, but I want to tell you that God has commanded that his angels serve us, those that are inheriting salvation, they are with us and are around us, his ministering spirits.
There are times in our lives where we might not be winning or pressing forward, but by golly, the best we can do is stand firm and just STAND. Stand in the knowledge, that no matter how hard we get nailed, we know that our God loves us, He is with us and that we will come through it.
Stand my friend, don't give up....STAND.