By Bobbe Brooks-Fischle
I recently overheard two retired professionals complaining. “Times are hard,” said the man. “I looked forward to retirement, but our shaky economy forced me back to work.” The lady confided, “We can’t make it on Social Security, we’ve used up our savings, and no one will hire us.”
Yes, times are hard, and we never know when the storms of life may hit. That’s what happened to us one morning. After eating breakfast, having my quiet time, and checking my email, I decided to share some inspirational thoughts with family. I typed a passage from Sarah Young’s devotional book, Jesus Calling: “I am your strength and shield. I plan out each day and have it ready for you, long before you arise from bed. My Presence watches over you continually, protecting you from both known and unknown dangers. Entrust yourself to My watchcare. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”
SIGNS OF HARD TIMES ARE EVERYWHERE. With the net worth of every American declining, foreclosures rising, and retirees returning to work, many clamor, “How can we make it?”
How comforting! I sent the email, dressed, and then zipped into the kitchen to rinse some fruit. Blueberries spilled everywhere. I squelched my aggravation and began to clean up. Soon my husband, John, and I headed out the door for a day of research at the library.
Suddenly, our life took a frightening turn. I watched in horror as John slipped on black ice and fell on his back. He cried out in agony as I struggled to help him up. Disoriented and moaning, we staggered into the garage where he fell a second time, banging his head on the cement floor.
I screamed for help, but no one answered. When John awoke, I was kneeling over him, whispering, “Please don’t die.”
Spilled blueberries and a trip to the library no longer mattered. We ended up in the ER with neighbors assisting, family calling, and friends from church rushing to join us. The doctors’ exams and tests confirmed a concussion and broken ribs. We were thankful he was alive.
One morning during those difficult and sometimes discouraging days of recovery, I happened upon a book of the Bible I hadn’t read in a long time — Nehemiah. It read like a description of our day — times were hard and there was a famine in the land.Nehemiah trusted God to help in the midst of dangers, devastation, and seeming impossibilities. He encouraged others: “Our God will fight for us!” (Neh. 4:20). The Book of Nehemiah was just what I needed — like an encouraging shot of faith.
Often I noticed my husband smiling when I asked others, “Have you read the Book of Nehemiah lately?” When they shrugged, I continued, “Neither had I, but it’s a story similar to our times. And as He did for Nehemiah, God will fight for us.”
Those truths were comforting as I watched John struggle to walk across the room and wondered about our future. While praying for direction, God’s answers were veiled amidst the difficulties. Sometimes heaven seemed silent.
Some say it can’t be done — don’t listen. With God — all things are possible!
Family and friends encouraged us. A 95-year-old friend said, “Honey, God is never early, and He’s never late.” With a chuckle, she added, “He’s always on time.”
Yes, but the uncertainties were scary. The life-threatening accident had left John needing more rest. He was no longer able to pastor his church, as he had done for 30 years, or pursue any other ministry we could imagine. We prayed, but I secretly wondered what we would do.
One day after John was stronger, we browsed through the public library. An unfamiliar book caught our attention as if to say, “Take me home.” We did.
While devouring the book, new ideas germinated. Amidst those pages, we discovered God’s plan for this season of life — online teaching and writing. We spent hours studying the book to learn a new career.
Out of the darkness into the light, we prayed as we created resume packets, job descriptions, and a business plan for our new ministry. We spent hours researching and contacting universities. I laughingly told John, “You’re the head honcho, and I’m your administrative assistant.”
He lovingly replied, “You’re my partner.”
One of our daughters said, “I can’t believe you’ve done all that. Some people would give up.” True, but there are others who wouldn’t.
We were encouraged by the movie “Gifted Hands.” Raised by a single mom, Ben Carson went from being considered the dumbest kid in class to graduating from Yale University, then medical school. He is now chief pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins. With a team of 70, he made history when he separated Siamese twins.
With faith fueled through daily Bible reading and prayer, Dr. Carson writes: “If we recognize our talents and use them appropriately, and choose a field that uses those talents, we will rise to the top of our field.” The God of Nehemiah inspired Ben Carson to lean on Him through the darkness and never, never give up.
We read Zig Zigler’s book, Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms. What a shock to learn that Zig Zigler had also suffered a fall, resulting in a serious head injury much worse than John’s. Zig’s faith and hope bubbled forth as Zig described God leading him through the storm and rebuilding his life.
We have learned when life throws us for a loop, with God’s guidance, we can rebuild. At a time when others are retiring, we are building ministries. I’m living my dream writing books and articles. From our home, my husband teaches and inspires students around the world, including military personnel in Afghanistan. We’re as happy as can be.
No matter how bleak times are, there’s a path, a purpose, and a plan. We can escape the darkness of discouragement, even if it means leaping into the unknown, taking risks, and reinventing ourselves.
The God of Nehemiah watches, protects, and cheers us on. He’ll fight for us, too. Partnering with Him produces miraculous results and great joy.
STAY AFLOAT IN A SINKING ECONOMY—
P.R.A.Y.E.R. is the Answer!
Prayer and planning — a day away promotes resourceful thinking.
Resist discouragement and expect answers.
Analyze new ideas and act.
Yield to change and grow.
Evaluate periodically and expand horizons.
Resources to guide and encourage:
- Make Money Teaching Online – Dr. Danielle Babb, Dr. Jim Mirabella
- The Online Teaching Guide – Ken W. White, Bob H. Weight
- The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2012 – Jerry B. Jenkins
- Thinking for a Change – John C. Maxwell
- Think Big – Dr. Ben Carson
- The Job-Hunter’s Survival Guide – Richard Bolles
- Article: “How To Build A Business From Scratch” – (Eric T. Wagner, forbes.com)
Bobbe Brooks-Fischle is living her dream, writing, mentoring writers, and collaborating with her professor husband, Dr. John Fischle. Bobbe invites you to follow her blog at http://trackingtreasuresthrutherockies.blogspot.com/.
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Mature Living. To subscribe click here or on the cover image.