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Stephen and Katie share their experience through sickness and disappointed hopes! An experience that taught them to trust in God's faithfulness as they walked through the valley of the shadow of death.



  • October 28, 2017
    9:30 AM


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Dear Father in Heaven Lord we thank you for this happy Sabbath day we thank you for your goodness and we thank you for your faithfulness and we pray that you would speak through us this morning that your words would be heard and not ours we love you amen. We're standing up here today not because we are good but because God is good and he has been good and faithful to us. And we feel compelled to praise him for that this is a difficult story to share for a couple reasons it's very personal and it's also very emotional it is a continuing journey I would like to say that it's all neatly wrapped up and in the past but it's not so you'll probably see some tears I prayed that I wouldn't but it's just reality so we have learned that repeating a lot of God's goodness helps build our faith and. So here we are. God's goodness. Has been different than the goodness that I usually Or maybe we usually think of God when we think of God's goodness we often think of some thirty seven for that he will give us the desires of our hearts right or Psalm twenty one two you have given him his heart's desire and have not withheld the request of his lips or even James one seventeen every good and perfect gift is from above. But as I have reacquainted myself with the promises of God lately I've actually found that most of them don't promise the desires of your heart or that you will get what you want when you want it the vast majority talk of a God who is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. A god that will Dana as we cast our burdens on him a God who will hold us and that the righteous will never be forsaken. Through our experience we have been introduced to a God who has shown his goodness not by giving us our version of the. Good in perfect gift but through disappointment last sickness and an uncertain future. And if we had not walked to do this valley of the shadow of death we wouldn't have the experience of god proving his promises of being our refuge and our fortress of upholding us and never speaking out and this experience has taught us the importance and City of an abiding and continual surrender on to God waiting on him to make all things beautiful in his time and placing our full confidence in a God who is faithful and looking back to see how he has worked and trusting that he will continue to work in the future. We know that in a room this size there are a lot of stories of loss. Pain sorrow disappointments. In fact in Christ object lessons page thirty three says none who are see God's Word are exempt from difficulty and trial but when affliction comes the true Christian does not become restless distrustful or despondent though we cannot see the definite outcome of affairs or discern the purpose of God's providence says we are not to cast away our confidence remembering the tender mercies of the Lord we should cast our care upon him and with patience wait for his salvation. Through Conflict the spiritual life is strengthened trials Wellborn will develop steadfastness of character and precious spiritual graces the perfect fruit of faith neatness and love often matures best amid storm clouds and darkness. One of my favorite paintings. Is this painting by Rembrandt titled The disciples and middle of the Sea of Galilee the disciples in the middle Sea of Galilee and early in our experience. I drew a lot of strength from from this portrayal of that. Parable or that story in the gospels it was a it was a god it was a story in the Gospels that I that resound had with me and that I read over and over and if you get a chance to you know Google this later and go to images get a high resolution one and blow it up I mean that the details X.P. absolutely spectacular the colors the expressions on the faces I think Rembrandt did a really good job of capturing that biblical story and so if you'll turn with me to that story in The Book of Mark. Chapter four. So if you'll turn with me to Mark chapter four in verse thirty five. Chapter four in verse thirty five I will read that together. I'll have it up on the screen too if you mean. On the same day when evening had come he said to them let us cross over to the other side now when they had left the multitude they took him along in the boat as he was and other little boats were also with him and a great wind storm arose in the waves beat into the boat so that it was already filling but he was in the stern asleep on a pillow. And they woke him and said to him Teacher Do you not care that we are perishing. Then heroes and he rebuked the wind and he said to the sea Peace be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But he said to them Why are you so fearful How is it that you have no faith. And they feared exceedingly and they said to one another who can this be that even the wind and the sea obey Him I want you to notice in verse thirty five This story starts with Jesus' command to go on to the lake to cross to the other side he called he called them to get into the boat even though he knew a storm was coming. Jesus didn't send them in the boat alone though he went with them to ride out the storm by their side. But Jesus soon fell fast asleep and the disciples found themselves fighting to stay afloat without his aid. Why didn't he wake them up and help them. Didn't he notice that this was a life and death situation a life and death matter. Why did it seem Jesus did nothing to stop the stone I'm sure the disciples asked questions similar to these as they frantically scooped water out of their boat and tried to manage the sails just like we saw in that painting. So well portrayed Interestingly the disciples almost lost their confidence in Jesus yet at the point where they felt most desperate they ran to Jesus and there pleading for help woke him up and he calmed the sea and they exclaimed Who is this man. We could have probably already we can all probably relate to that story we assume that since we are with Jesus everything will go well for us right. And then the storms whip up out of nowhere we can felt feel tempted to think that Jesus doesn't really care. We we may ask where God was and such and such a situation or when such and such happened but this story illustrates that Jesus is always with us in calm seas as well as in The Tempest. It also reminds us that as we read earlier we are not to cast away our confidence and with patience wait for his salvation. One of the attributes that. Has brought us a lot of hope and comfort of God in His faithfulness God is faithful and He does not change and as we choose to place our confidence in this God and trust his love and mercy. We have to trust and believe that he will make all things beautiful in his time at this point we've just seen hints of beauty we haven't seen the full beauty but I know that it is coming and I know that it is already in the works and so I today we're just going to share the hints of beauty that we have seen and we hope that encourages you to also look for the beauty in your own trials as well. So you've heard of opposites attract. But that didn't work out in our case we're both very similar in most areas and this has worked out well for us mostly but then when two clean freaks marry each other they become kind of German phobic. And then when two slightly compulsive people marry they become neurotic. And when to type a planners Mary we get a little do. Who addicted to a schedule and a time table and that's the way it is with us we're very much Type A planners we do things like we get together like sometime Saturday night and we schedule out are we we plan are we like where you going to be where you know all these kinds of things. And we'll go months in advance you know. Sometimes we just really get into it and we've got everything planned so anybody else out there like us. In this room I probably I think we're pretty safe to say yes. So then you can understand how important it is that those plans that you planned out come to pass exactly as you planned them we don't want. Any deviation from the plan Well I grew up only nineteen months younger than my sister we were one grade apart in school we had the same friends we did the same things we had the same interests and I just loved growing up with this built in best friend and so it was part of my plan always growing up to have children and try to read reproduce what we had growing up and have children close together in eight so you can imagine how glad we were when we found out we were going to have another baby just a few much I have Savannah turning to. Me and I also found out that two of my other best friends were having babies within a week of me so we're very excited because not only well were we happy to have a baby but this was going according to our plan. Not long after I found out I was pregnant I had started having some bleeding and I waited for a few days to see if it would resolve and when it didn't I decided to call my doctor and I assumed my doctor would just say why don't you just wait until your upcoming scheduled appointment and I assumed that because that very thing happened to a friend of mine who was also going through some early. Bleeding and she kept calling her doctor and they kept putting her off like you have an appointment just wait just wait but I was very blasts that my doctor did not do that in fact they sent me for blood work right away and the same day I went for blood work I got a call and they had scheduled. For that afternoon. I figured that it probably wasn't good I asked why and you know I was just talking to the and they and so she couldn't tell me much she just said that my H.C.G. was high Well this point I didn't know even really what that H.C.G. existed OK I'll be honest. So I immediately went to Dr Google and looked up high eight. And I found out that it could be one of three things a mole or pregnancy twins or a baby with a chromosomal abnormality so I decided to go with. Twins right well we went to the ultrasound that afternoon and there was no baby in my belly we were told that I'd had a spontaneous miscarriage and while of course we were sad about that I was glad it wasn't anything more serious However I did find it curious that my doctor called me again that day after the ultrasound and wanted me to come talk to her the next morning. I went in to see her and we found out that I was the lucky one percent of people who get pregnant to have a mall or pregnancy you know for those few in this room that don't know what a miller pregnancy is it's when tissue that usually becomes a fetus and said becomes an abnormal growth in your uterus. This growth can grow very quickly and the best way to monitor that and monitor that growth is by tracking your H.C.G. levels and my initial draw my age. It's basically your pregnancy hormone it's a long term that I'm not going to say in front of all of you. So in my initial H.C.G. my H.C.G. was one hundred forty thousand now in a normal pregnancy usually I mean they can. Fluctuate a little bit but when you're at the height of pregnancy usually your H.C.G. tops off at one hundred thousand so you can tell for as early on as I was in pregnancy one hundred forty thousand was abnormally high. So you can understand that we're pretty devastated at this point. For many of you I mean you sometimes you're going along in life here status quo and you get bad news when you go this way well we were thinking that we were pregnant you know so we're up here so that drop was even greater was even steeper was even more devastating so at that moment not only were we introduced to what a molar pregnancy was but we learned that it could turn malignant or metastasized or turn into a new year plasm. And because of this danger Kate is obstetrician immediately ordered a chest X. ray and a brain M.R.I. to check for metastasis and this is according to the World Health Organization recommendations it's kind of a Standard Work up in protocol and so we were quickly also referred to a gynecologic oncologist and the treatment for the for a molar pregnancy is a D. and C. surgery dilation for move the molar tissue and then weekly monitoring of her H.C.G. levels through blood work for the next year or so between my diagnosis and my D N C The only other symptom I really experienced other than the bleeding was incredible Najah and it was a week between when I first met with my doctor and learned that I had a miller pregnancy and when I had my D.N.C. and by the time by the morning of my D.N.C. They took my H.C.G. again and it was so high it couldn't even be recorded it was just it just said greater than two hundred seventy thousand through it all we were disappointed with this diagnosis no doubt but we started to feel positive because after the D.N.C. my H.C.G. numbers were dropping very rapidly and we were praising the Lord However just three weeks later I ended up in the emergency room hemorrhaging in right here I'd like to posit the story because God's goodness is truly seen in little and big ways and this happened on a Monday morning and as most of you know Stephen is a surgeon and Mondays are his surgery days at the hospital and he always has a seven thirty case but today he didn't and so he was home when I started hemorrhaging. Another miracle was that my mother answered her cell phone trying to see if she isn't here. And so she was able to come up and watch Savannah while we sped off to the E.R. and it was such a blessing to be close to family during this time we had recently moved back home to where my parents are and I can't imagine how it would have gone not being close to family. So we learned on our way to the emergency room that my H.C.G. level from a couple days ago we hadn't heard the results but it had again spiked. In the emergency room I was sent for a C.T. scan to check for metastasis and right before I was wheeled into the operating room for my second D. and C. to stop the bleeding we were given the incredibly bad news that the molar tissue had in fact turned malignant and was seen on C.T. in my lungs and my liver. So However during this shock God blessed us with wonderful and godly gynaecologist at such an emotional and scary time Katie's gynecologic oncologist that we had seen was over an hour away and Katie was hemorrhaging briskly I mean as a general surgeon I see hemorrhage tell the time this was hemorrhage and so we didn't have time to get anywhere but minutes away where I where I practice at Sierra Nevada and so I called ahead they had a bed waiting for Katie and and then this physician met us bedside and in two months he was retiring he was winding down his practice wasn't even on that day he was just finished golfing and spending time with his grandkids and getting ready for the retirement life but I called him and he came in right away and he was just exactly what we need this time he was the perfect combination of like a knowledgeable capable grandpa like he knew what he was doing but he also really showed care and concern and it was just exactly what we needed and not only did he pray with us before surgery but he stood in the O.R. and held my hand as I fell asleep. Which gave so much comforting courage to me and looking back God Pads our trials doesn't. He really gives us as much hope and comfort through every step that he can so over the next two days Katie had more tests and appointments at this point we are working with a gynecologic oncologist in Sacramento as I mentioned and our medical oncologist in Grass Valley where we live so they're going to collage colleges in Sacramento is leading the diagnosis in the treatment at this point and it was calling it just ational blasted neoplasm or G T N and stage Katie as high risk so think Stage three or four in the age of A C C and them that were that were more staging system that were more familiar with so this high risk was mainly because of the metastases to her liver and as seen on the C.T. scan so because of this stage it was highly recommended that she quickly start intensive chemotherapy and so after consulting with several other trusted physicians and setting up second opinions console and Stanford we felt comfortable not wasting any time and aggressively treating this aggressive malignancy and so two days after her cancer diagnosis or the you know sis she became began a regimen called Amoco which some of you may be familiar with some of the components of that it's an acronym for a top a side method track say hi to my Cindi cyclophosphamide and been Christine and so as some of you know these are pretty powerful drugs as five drug cocktail so neither of us were thrilled that she would be taking these five potentially you know harmful drugs and they had some serious side effects. X.. Media. Pair lost neuropathy in fertility and then some twenty years down the road like leukemia. But we are firm believers in evidence based approaches to medicine using the very best in current scientific evidence and we wanted this a scientifically proven methods to fight the cancer so that Katie could have the best chance to stay alive and to raise Savannah. I did determine though that I wanted to help my immune system and body as best I could and so while I did do conventional methods to treat my cancer I also incorporated evidence based lifestyle interventions to help build up my immune system and have the healthiest body to fight this cancer alongside with the chemotherapy. This was an incredibly scary and dark time for me not only did cancer just come out of nowhere but it seemed like every time we met with another doctor at the news seem to only get worse I remember being absolutely terrified to check into the hospital for my first dose of chemotherapy and even when the chemo for finally went through my veins after being poked six times it was all I could do to keep it together because I didn't have any time to plan any of this it just came out of nowhere and I felt so out of control but we truly felt uplifted through many of your prayers and love God work tangibly through so many of us were so very thankful for that. I felt like everything was going so fast and it was very overwhelming I don't think we had a ton of time to process all that we were going through but I do remember telling God I don't want to do this I don't want to do this I don't want to do this but I don't want to do this without you please carry me through and little did I know how God was working already to turn the course of events in such an amazing way it was at this time that I felt the stories of the. The story of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee was you know especially relatable to our situation. And when I read a quote from the desire of ages page three thirty four says those hearty fishermen had spent their lives upon the lake and had guided their craft safely through many a storm but now their strength and skill of bailed nothing they were helpless in the grasp of the Tempest and their hope failed them as they saw their boat was filling and I have to admit that during this experience I also felt completely powerless I was supposed to be the man of the household the house band The father able to fix any situation for my family but this was completely out of my control and why goes on absorbed in their efforts to save themselves they had forgotten that Jesus was on board he trusted in the father's might it was in faith faith in God's love and care that Jesus rested and the power of that word which still the storm was the power of God. And that was my experience I wanted to fix the situation myself and only when I was on my knees during prayer. Audibly said to me those experiences when you have those While that's pretty clear crystal clear he said to me you are not going to be able to handle this one. I'll need complete trust from you and nothing else. Going on how often the disciples experiences hours when the tempest of temptation gather and the fierce lightning flash and the waves sweep over us we battle with the storm alone. Forgetting that there is one who can help us we trust to our own strength to tell our hope is lost and we are ready to perish then we remember Jesus and if we call upon Him to save us we shall not cry in vain but a promise. Though he Starfleet reproves our unbelief and self-confidence he never fails to give us the help we need whether on the land or on the sea if we have the Savior in our hearts there is no need for fear living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life and will deliver us from danger in the way that he knows to be best in. All of this happened fairly quickly it's hard to convey a timeline but. Not long after this we had a certain twin physician friend whom some of you might know. Who got word of what was going on and they were not satisfied with our course of action and so they decided to do a little bit of their own research and they found that actually there was a center that specialized in gestational plastic neoplasm in Boston or one of them works and they actually made a connection with one of the doctors whose name is like one or two on most of the research papers on G T N And so he amazingly agreed to look at my chart and. Upon initial review he said he didn't think the cancer really was in my liver and furthermore he didn't think that I was a high risk case. So if these two facts were true then Katie wouldn't need the Amoco that five drug cocktail in fact she would only need one of those med medications the methotrexate. So when we heard this we I mean we couldn't believe it it seemed almost too good to be true but at this point several physicians in Grass Valley and in Sacramento. That were on the case had all concurred that Katie was higher as and had metastasized to her liver and should start chemotherapy as quickly as possible. We developed a plan. To get our things. We developed a plan we felt comfortable with the plan and we had already begun to carry out the plan. Now again our plan was being upset and to say the least we were confused we were so confused I wanted to believe the Boston doctor but he was like the lone wolf saying something completely different. And then what everyone else had been saying and so we decided to pray at this point we had two other second opinion consulate set up one at Stanford and one at Mayo Clinic and so we decided to pray that our upcoming appointments with these other two would agree with what the Boston physician was saying so we got on our knees and I prayed first and I said you know Lord please help everyone to have consensus all these. Opinions help them to make sense so that we know which way to go and then I blurted out and Lord please help our doctor here in Sacramento to change his mind to agree with the doctor in Boston and I did not plan on saying that in fact I was shocked that it came out of my mouth because let's face it doctors don't change their minds they don't change their treatment plans and they definitely don't let the patient know that they had made a mistake right I can say that because I'm married to one. Nevertheless I had prayed it and not two days later not two days later I was talking to one of our physician friends and her sister had given my radiology images to a G.I. radiologist at Harvard this is someone who looks at pictures of livers all day and he had said that he was one hundred percent sure there was no liver metastasis while I was getting this news from her my doctor in Sacramento texted me and asked us to call him when Steven called him he said he had again reviewed my case with several other colleagues and changed his mind that I did not have liver metastasis nor was I a high risk case talk about an answer to prayer what a faith builder I could not believe that God had me pray a seemingly crazy and impossible prayer only to answer it two days later in such an amazing way and at this point I knew that the second opinions were going to agree with the Boston physician I knew that I was going to be OK that God's hand was in this that he was my. My personal god. And I started a single agent chemotherapy in December and I did it until December three months I was finished and we're very thankful for God's goodness I mean this was a crystal clear. Message from the Lord. This is similar to the disciples experience this situation a Christian Christian we think we're alone we're wondering what's going on we're confusing confused and then he answers the prayer like. That was God signature that was that moment when we experienced his presence in our lives in our marriage and with Katie's health in a way that we had never experienced before it was incredible. So we're very thankful and when I think back on these days we do remember the heartache and sadness but we also remember God's goodness and I want to share a couple of the things that really stand out in my mind. Like I said before they had trouble finding my vein for my first dose of chemotherapy and the pain they did eventually find didn't last through my whole dose of all that all the medications I needed so we decided after that first dose that I should have a portacath place for future chemo doses. All of this change before I ever had another dose of Amoco and I changed to methotrexate which was actually. Administered interim muscularly And so when I found out that my new chemo was going to be a shot in the arm I to be honest I really had trouble that I was really struggling with the fact that I had a portacath place because now I had three ugly scars in a very visible place that I had to see every day that I didn't really need to have my portacath was actually used for just two doses of iron to help me feel better after my hemorrhage and. Her blood draws but we never actually used it for chemo and so one day I was struggling I feel tempted to get angry and discouraged about that and God clearly said Katie those scars are your Ebeneezer. And what a beautiful thought. Every day I see those scars in every day I have a visual reminder that God is good and that he is faithful. My chemo regimen didn't have a set date it was very much controlled by my levels so once my H.C.G. got back into the normal range I would have three more doses or cycles of chemotherapy and then I would be done so you could imagine every weekly draw I would always calculate and see when I would be done with chemo and on my thirtieth birthday last year my was three and I was pretty disappointed because I thought it had to be two or below to be considered normal so at that point I calculated that I would be finished on Christmas Day. So I went in my chemo cycles were every other day for a week and then I'd have a week off and that was a complete cycle so I went in the week before Christmas for my last one of that week and my oncologist came out and said congratulations this is your last dose and I just sat there and I argued with him because I you know that wasn't a calculation. And then I went home and I checked with Steve and we checked with our Boston physician who graciously answered every email whenever we had a question and they all agreed that I was done with chemo because I had to be five or below not to or below and so I just thought that was very sweet of the Lord to even give me Christmas off he is so good in many ways. It's hard to believe that this all happened a year ago sometimes it feels like just yesterday and sometimes it does feel like a lifetime ago yet our story does not end here. And I were. Just to give savannah a sibling as the one year mark approached we had many discussions about the timing of it all. When we originally heard we had to wait for an entire year to try again after the initial disappointment we probably thought from a medical standpoint it was good to let my body rest and recover we had no idea how much time we would need to recover emotionally. The fear of relapse before every monthly blood draw would cause physical distress in the even though you don't maybe aren't conscious of the fear it definitely manifested itself physically and every time we discussed growing our family or trying again. Emotions would become very very raw and very real so we decided to pray that God would give us peace about this. So in August I went for my monthly lab but in July all of our local labs had switched to Quest Diagnostics and so when I went in I usually have a standing order from my oncologist but they didn't have it anymore and I had been there for an hour already by the time they called me up and they only had an order from my oncologist my gynecologic oncologist in Sacramento and so I said just use that one and draw my blood and so a couple days later he called me and I didn't have my phone with me so he left a voicemail and my numbers were good again and for another month we praise the Lord and then he called me again the next day and I was with my phone this time and he and we had a little discussion and then he said on his own accord he just offered this up he said you know you know I know it's not quite a year yet but at this point it's very rare for the cancer to come back so if you'd like to start trying again go ahead and it took me a while to realize how maybe that was God answering our prayers because I didn't ask him that and he called me twice to get a hold of me to offer up that information. And so on the one year anniversary of finding out I had cancer invading my body. I found out that I was pregnant. Thankful and yet fearful we made a plan with my obstetrician and started following my H.C.G. every forty eight hours and scheduled several upcoming ultrasounds. Within a week. My H.C.G. started dropping and my body started the process of miscarriage. Not many days later. My H.C.G. plateaued and my body stopped the process of miscarriage and to complicate matters. My ultrasound started looking eerily similar to my molar ultrasound the year before. For me this was the real test of faith this is the real test of faith. Yes Last year I was blindsided with a horrible diagnosis when all I wanted was a baby. But clinging to the promises of God and the love of family and friends. Rode out the storm and God brought peace. And when the storm was calmed. I was then asked several times to account of God's goodness and faithfulness how he spared me the awful chemotherapy drugs how my prognosis jumped from seventy percent to ninety seven percent. How he answered prayers in such amazing ways I repeated over and over again the god was good and that with God was faithful and I think subconsciously I thought I would be like Joe who also went through trial but was blessed doubly in the end but here I was. Staring at the possibility of a second ruler pregnancy. God was not blessing me with a healthy baby. God was not blessing me with what I thought he should have or would have. God was blessing me with an opportunity to see all the lessons I had learned the year before. At this point I was tempted to spiral to despair deeper than the year before but I had a recent experience with God's faithfulness that would not allow me to go there. And so it was here that I had to again lay down my preconceived ideas of who God is and how he works and where the desires of my heart fit in. It was at this time that I had to practice surrender and waiting on God like I never had before. I now had the opportunity to place my full confidence in God a faithful God who had not changed from last year and would continue to be faithful to me. And I was also blessed with perspective from a book. All the insanity of God I was so excited when I came here and realized that every registrant is going home with this book and I encourage you if you haven't read it please read it several days after my initial cancer diagnosis we already had plans to see this documentary of this book and it was so life changing and so a couple weeks before all of this recent thing happened. Steven saw this book on Amazon or something and decided to order it for me and at first I was kind of disappointed because I already watched the documentary and I thought I knew you know the story line and that it would be redundant but I was so so wrong. Looking back that God really knew what he was doing when he tempted it when he prompted Stephen to buy this book for me and I read this book as all of this what I just described to you was happening and every time I was tempted to feel sorry for myself or tell God that this was too much to bear or that my life was so hard my mind immediately went to the stories in this book and I was reminded that my trial truly was a light affliction and thanked God for being so gentle. The insanity of God is written by a missionary who worked for several years fifteen years I think in Africa and several years in Somalia and he became so disheartened at the evil that existed there especially when an entire generation of believers was annihilated in one day and this led him on an extensive research mission as he visited countries and churches in highly persecuted and repressive areas of the world to understand how Jesus works in places where it seems that only evil dwells the first place he visited was Russia and one of the stories he chronicles struck a deep chord inside of me that resonated with what I have currently been struggling with and I'd like to share with you. One pastor was arrested and placed in prison while. His wife and children were sent to live or die in Siberia one wintry night in their remote dilapidated wooden cabin which now serves as their home the three children divided their family's last crust of bread and drank the last cup of tea in the house before climbing into that still hungry kneeling to say their prayers they asked Where are we going to get some more food mama were hungry. Do you think papa even knows where we live now. Their mother assured them that their Heavenly Father knew where they were and for now he was the only one that would have to provide they prayed and ask for God's provision thirty kilometers away in the middle of the night God woke up the deacon of a church and instructed him to get out of bed harness your horse hitched the horse to the sled load up all the extra vegetables that the church has harvested the meat and the other food that the congregation has collected and take it to that pastor's family living outside the village they are hungry. The deacon said But Lord I can't do that it's below zero outside my horse might freeze and I might freeze. The Holy Spirit told him You must go the pastor's family is in trouble. The man argued lord you've got to know that there are wolves everywhere they could eat my horse and if they do then they'll eat me I'll never make it back. But the deacon said that the Holy Spirit told him you don't have to come back you just have to go. And mentioned in the beginning that we often focus on parts of the Bible that tell us of a God who keeps his promises promises that tell us we will have the desires of our heart promises of good and perfect gift promises that disease and pestilence will not come near us. But what happens when God doesn't seem to fulfill these promises. What if God tells us to go without promising a safe return. What if we find ourselves with a disease that's and is death. What if the gift God gives us are only presented through trial and heartache and disappointment. What if God asks of us more than we are willing to give. I am learning that it's not about whether or not God fulfills the desires of my heart my life is not about everything working according to my plan my life isn't even about building a perfect little family and making me happy my life is about following where God leads without being promised a safe return even to the Valley of the shadow of death. My life is a continual daily hourly surrender of my will to his. Is this easy. Not at all is it pleasurable no. It's incredibly hard and it hurts. But is it what I need to be called higher to buy deeper and to trust more fully Yes yes. And yes. I wish that we had a conclusion to our story that we could share with you today. But unfortunately my immediate future is still uncertain. And while we don't know how our story will end we serve a God who does. And this God does not make mistakes. He could have prevented all of this he could have but he didn't and because he didn't I know that this is for my good and maybe even for someone else's. And for that I praise him because I know when I get to heaven I look back and realize that everything I went through here on earth was worth it. Paul says in Romans five. But we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance perseverance character character hope and this hope will not disappoint. In a world full of disappointment God promises of hope that will not let us down in fact six tells us that this hope is an anchor to our souls that leads us to the very presence of God This hope to lift our eyes from the dismal disappointments of this world and refocuses our perspective on a world where there will be no more sorrow no more loss and no more heartache where our plans will be God's plans and the desires of our hearts will be his desires and this hope we can cherish no matter what we walk through as we wait almost all nation of God and place our full confidence in his leaving. This morning I actually God gave me a quote that brought so much comfort I threw it in here I want to share it with you from prophets and kings. Says hope and courage are essential to perfect service for God These are the fruit of faith despondency is sinful and on reason. Will. God is able and willing more abundantly to bestow upon his servants the strength they need for tasks and trial the plans of the enemies of his work may seem to be well laid and firmly established but God can overthrow the strongest of these and this he does in his own time in way when he sees that the faith of His servants has been sufficiently tested. In the darkest days when appearances seem most forbidding fear not have faith in God He knows your need he has all power His infinite love and compassion never weary fear not that he will fail of fulfilling his promise he is eternal truth. Never Will he change the covenant He has made with those who love him and he will be stuck upon his faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. So as Katie mentioned we realized at this point. That God hadn't changed from last year he was still faithful. And as we were given another opportunity to trust him in an uncertain future based on his faithfulness in the past we really determined to surrender our worries and our fears completely to God placing our full confidence in His perfect will and timing. We reminded each other that this was none of our doing. And if God saw fit to allow this in our lives then we had to depend entirely on him to see us through if God product brought this into our lives it was his responsibility to help us through it and in fact that's what he wanted from us. And I read a quote to you from review in Herald. One thousand nine hundred four says trials are essential was that word essential in order that we may be brought close to our Heavenly Father in submission to His will and we may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. God's work of refining in purifying the soul must go on until his servants are so humbled so dead to self that when called into active service they may have an eye single to the glory of God Wow. The Lord brings his children over the what same ground again and again. Increasing the what the pressure until perfect humility fills the mind and the character is transformed then they are victorious over self and in harmony with Christ and the spirit of heaven she goes on to say it is by close testing trials that God brings his people near to himself for in trial and temptation he discovers to them their weaknesses and teaches them to lean upon him as their own as his as their only help and safeguard. When this result is the taint his object is accomplished and his tried servants are prepared to be used in every emergency to fill important positions of trust and to accomplish is accomplished the grand purposes for which their powers were given them. God takes men upon trial and he proves them upon the right hand and upon the left until they are educated trained and disciplined for his use. And doesn't that sound like the story that Katie and I have shared this morning our testimony and the church deacon in Siberia our lives are to be strictly for God's use we are called to follow where he leads no matter the consequences or the outcome. And something we learned through this in our experience was. An answer to prayer we all pray or we want to be close to you. Do you want to be close to Jesus. You will go through trials. Do you want to know your own heart every nook and cranny of your own deceptive heart. Go through trials and lean on Jesus and lean hard and at the end you'll be able to answer this question Who is this man that calms the winds and the waves there's a similar story to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. The story of Jonah. Jonah also claimed he was a follower of Jehovah but he didn't weather the storm as well as of the disciples he saw death in the sea as a way to stop the storm. But all was not lost Lord had mercy on Jonah and he eventually learned the lessons as he shares with us in Jonah the Book of Jonah chapter two. Which I think are some of the most comforting words that are found in all the scripture to those going through trials here it is on the screen if you can follow along I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction and he answered me out of the belly of shell hole I cried and you heard my voice for you cast me into the deep into the heart of the Seas and the flood surrounded me all your billows in your waves passed over me. Then I said I have been cast out of your sight. Yet I will look again toward your holy temple the waters surrounded me even to my soul the deep closed around me. We were wrapped around my head and went down to the moorings of the mountains the earth with its bars closed behind me forever you have brought up my life from the pit Oh Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord and my prayer went up to you into your holy temple. Those who are guard worthless idols forsake their own mercy but I will sacrifice to you with the voice of Thanksgiving I will pay what I have vowed salvation is of the Lord. So the Lords spoke to the fish and vomited Jonah on to dry land so. How is it with you this morning are you going through trials. Do you feel the waves and the wind do you question of Jesus cares or hill even save you. Are you feeling overwhelmed and in distress get to know the man Jesus. Trust him to find the solution to calm the storms in your life you know I believe that Jesus is coming soon. And I believe that. His trials. Have to be more severe because of the shortness of time. And the Lord knows what each one of you need he has yourselves ation at the forefront of his mind. And so if it's your desire. To say to God Lord I want to know who is this man that even the winds and the sea obey Him I would just invite you to bow your heads with me. Every head is bowed and every eye is closed. The Lord some of us are struggling with trials temptations we feel overwhelmed and we feel like we have been called to go with out the promise of a safer turn and father we know that you are coming quickly you are coming soon we see it all around us we see it in our patients' lives we see it in the the news we see it in our own lives there is a sense of urgency. And father like no other time in earth's history in no other time in our own individual lives do we need to know who is this man Father it's our desire to know you in a new way but. We know that we are not ready to handle the waves that are beating against the ships of our lives and that we need you and so Father we just pray in a very special way for each attending here for each that may hear our voice that if that's the case we we want to lift our hearts to you and say Father we don't know how that's going to go but we recognize the emergency of the times and we need to be close to you and so Father answer that prayer Father sustain those who may be called to go through trials and give them that hope that Paul talks about it Romans five. And so Father as we go from this place we pray that you would continue to bless our Sabbath service continue to bless each one here in the families that are represented to fully trust in you and to know you and so that we can lift our hearts to your temple and to say you have answered and you have brought to us we pray these things Jesus made. 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