Have you ever heard the idiom “Waiting for the other shoe to drop?”
This idiom figuratively means to wait for an event that we feel will definitely happen. According to Inc.com this old saying originated in the tenements of New York City in the late 19th and early 20th century. Back then apartments were built with bedrooms on top of one another. It was common to hear your upstairs neighbor take off a shoe, drop it, and then repeat the action. It became shorthand for waiting for something you knew was coming.
Our family has stood in the valley of the shadow of death for a month or more three times: once each when my mother and my oldest sister Bea were on a ventilator for a month and my sister Lillian was in a coma for a month before passing. Now my 47 year old niece, Dana was laying between life and death on a ventilator after being attacked by COVID-19. I spoke with the nurses and doctors often to glean what knowledge and information I could about her condition so I could pass it along to our huge extended family. The doctor had anticipated Dana being on the ventilator 10-14 days, we were at day 18. Things looked bleak.
When my mother and sisters were in the hospital I found myself feeling anxious and, as the saying goes, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Was I doing the same this time around?
In the early hours one Sunday morning I was doing my daily devotional reading which included James 1:2-8. The heading to the passage read: Faith Under Pressure.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind- whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
The passage of scripture really struck home for me. My faith was indeed under pressure.
I had heard down through the years that we should never question God but didn’t James say If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
I needed to know. I needed to know what to pray, how to pray. Yet all I could do was groan and moan, being reminded of the scripture saying:
And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26 TPT
After reading James 1:2-8 that morning I started to ask God what is the lesson our family needed to learn. Closer to home, what is the lesson I needed to learn? Why was our family going through this again? While in my heart I know God is sovereign but my head wanted to know if my faith or lack thereof had any impact on what we were going through, again. We read all the right scriptures, prayed all the right prayers of faith. I had joined my faith with that of my family, church family, and friends as we prayed and believed God. Yet my mother and two sisters had died. Why God, why?
Praying in those wee hours of the morning inspired me to search for the what rather than the why.
I knew I was on the right track after reading this ‘Uncommon Key’ from Tony Dungy’s book “The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge”
When God unfolds His plans in your life that you don’t understand, don’t ask why, ask what. What do You want me to take away from this, Lord? Trust that God will show you one day how it all fits together.
I felt in my spirit that our plight had to do with our testimony. Our testimony, our family testimony has been believing until the end. Believing until the last breath. But God, was I believing until the last breath or was I waiting for the last breath? Was I believing for what I prayed for or was I the weak link? Was I, as James admonished us not to do, offering “worry-prayers”
Was I believing but expecting the worst? Feeling dread every time the phone rang?
When there is a family medical emergency I always did research. This included a lot of reading and examining statistics. I worked in the histology lab, I helped with autopsies and I have seen some very poor outcomes. Also, my niece’s husband and son tested positive, and my brother and aunt had recently died from COVID-19. Could I even believe and expect for the best?
Could I, like David, ask God the hard question of
Psalms 139:23-24 (KJV) ?
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Was I afraid to ask God to search me? Well, YES. My faith life would be forced into the open if God searched me. I was afraid that it was me who needed work, needed the hard work.
Could I, like Jonathan McReynolds in the song “Situation” say —I’m not asking God for an outcome, or praying for results, or hoping that it all goes exactly how I want. Could I just invite God into the situation? https://youtu.be/U8A1YwM_jWc (listen here)
I found, after surrendering to God’s searching, that just asking God for help, asking Him to come into the situation, allowed Him the opportunity to do the work…the work of searching, seeing, and then leading me in the way everlasting.
So this time around I waited everyday for the good news, the GOD news, that no matter what the outcome, God has it in control and all things are working for the good.
We prayed patiently and believed for nearly another month before getting word that Dana was off the ventilator and upgraded to an aerosol trach, she was walking shakily with the assistance of a walker, but walking. She was on the way to recovery. It was another week before her COVID test came back negative after being persistently positive for nearly two months.
Then early one morning in late May I received a text-Hey Aunt Sharon, I’m coming home today.
Hallelujah!!! After having five members of my family affected by the coronavirus I learned I did not have to wait for the other shoe to drop. I can wait on the Lord, I can be of good courage, I can believe until God completes His work.