We are again entering a new year. We have left 2020 behind. 2020 was a very difficult year in many ways with COVID fears and trials. Some of us also experienced other serious trials in 2020. Yet God was also faithful to us during the long months of 2020. We may experience new trials in 2021 as well, but we can face 2021 with joy in the Lord and with a certainty of His faithfulness.
In this blog post I would like to remember and testify to God's faithfulness to me in the past years. I will speak of the illness and death of my first husband, the events that occurred in the following years, and my eventual second marriage to my current husband, Bob.
Ten years ago in 2011 the new year ushered in the death of my first husband, Wayne. He turned sixty-five years old on January 1rst. The next morning on the 2nd, my son and I found that he had passed away sometime during the night. This was after four and a half years of him becoming more and more disabled due to his neurological disease. At the end he was completely dependent on my son and me for everything. During those four and a half years of caring for Wayne, I also fought my own eight month battle against breast cancer.
Those years caring for my husband, Wayne, were difficult years. The years as a widow following the care-giving years also brought grief and sometimes loneliness. Yet I also experienced so much of God's faithfulness. I further grew in my love and personal relationship with my Lord. I grew in my dependence on Him.
During those years I discovered that "the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;" and that His "love endures forever (Psalm 138:8). Difficult times does not change that. God can bring good even out of tragic and difficult things (Romans 8:28). In fact, He can "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). He further promises "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
A few months after Wayne's death I started working at a volunteer job which helps caregivers and their loved ones. Later I wrote my book to encourage caregivers, called Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers. https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482027543&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver
At one point an article about two other caregivers and me was published in the New York Times online. https://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/after-the-caregiving-ends/ Later I was also able to have an article written about my experiences in Guideposts. https://www.guideposts.org/caregiving/hope-and-inspiration/stories-of-hope-for-caregivers/the-gift-of-caregiver-respite
All these experiences had nothing to do with any capabilities on my part, but they were all because of God's grace to me. They showed that God can use incredibly difficult circumstances for His glory and even for our ultimate good. They showed that He is always a faithful God.
Then in September 0f 2018 I began dating my present husband, Bob, and in July of 2019 we married. This was after over eight years of me being a widow, and it was something I never anticipated happening. It was one of those "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" experiences." It is part of God's plan and purpose for my life now.
We had the song, "I will Never Leave You," sung at our wedding. This song is based on the Hebrews 13:5 passage mentioned above and is a testimony to our belief that God will always be with us in the days ahead, as He had in the past. A rendition of this song can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWxbYzAUYPA God's purpose, grace, promises, faithfulness, and love in our lives are amazing.
And now later this month it will be 18 months since Bob and I wed. We did not anticipate not having even a whole year of marriage before COVID issues hit our world. Yet we have been together through it all. We also have been a support to each other through difficult extended family issues, and we pray about these issues together. We have had to adjust to each other's expectations and quirks as well. Establishing and maintaining a godly marriage requires effort and prayer. Yet this marriage too has been a wonderful love gift from God to us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is always faithful.
This also reminds me of another song sung at Bob's and my wedding. The lyrics of the chorus of this song as sung that day were this, "Through it all, through it all, we've learned to trust in Jesus. We've learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all we've learned to depend upon His Word. Yes, we've learned to depend upon His Word."