Thought of the day: During trials, l will wait expectantly on God for a sign that He is working in my situation.
“At the seventh time he said, ‘Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.’”
1 Kings 18:44 (NRSV)
Three years ago, l was diagnosed with burnout, anxiety and severe depression. Formerly a full-time teacher, my days suddenly revolved around doctor’s and psychiatrist’s visits, taking medication and trying to cope with mental lows and fears.
I felt weak and frustrated, yet I was determined to make a full recovery. I prayed and praised God for my deliverance. I believed that l would get well. Yet months went by and l saw little progress.
Did l get discouraged? Yes. Did l wonder secretly in my heart if things would ever get better? Sometimes. However, l remained insistent that God would heal me.
Furthermore, I started to get severe headaches. In response, I delved into scripture, l fasted and kept on praying. I concentrated on keeping my eyes on Jesus and thanked him for healing me. I imagined myself being well and whole again.
Then, one day, the headaches suddenly stopped.
It was my little cloud of hope, a small but significant sign that carried a loving assurance from God, that more healing was coming. Since then, l have been making continuous improvement in my recovery.
God pours out great blessings from small beginnings. And it all starts with a little cloud of hope.
Prayer: Wonderful Lord, thank you that when we wait on you in faith, you will send us a little cloud of hope: the beginning of a great outpouring of your blessings. Amen.
Delve deeper: Friends, if you are deep in the midst of strife and don’t see any end in sight, ask God in prayer to show you His presence. Let Him guide you to that little cloud of hope, that assurance that He is moving in your situation.
Published on PresbyCan Daily Devotional on the 8th May.
Written by Madeline Twooney
“Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand.“
Psalm 37:23-24 (NRSV)
Education was always an important theme for my parents when l was growing up. I was born in England, but my parents, who are Sri Lankan, moved with me to Melbourne, Australia, when l was three years old.
From an early age, my parents instilled in me the significance of studying hard and acquiring good grades. It was their fim belief that the only viable career path for me was to become a doctor or a lawyer; not only would these professions assure finanicial succes, but they would also bring prestige to our family.
However, my dream since childhood was to become a writer. Netherless, parental pressure obliged me to view writing as a hobby and pursue their dream instead.
When l was 13 years old, my parents took me out of the government-funded high school l had been attending and enrolled me at an Anglican private school. My father was a chef and my mother an artist, so their earnings were somewhat modest. For that reason, l appreciated their financial sacrifice in investing in my education and was determined to study hard and make them proud.
For the 2 years l visited that school l was very unhappy. The other kids in my year level either bullied me or completely ostracized me. What made my time in that school more bearable was the kindness my teachers showed me and the interesting lessons they taught.
One subject l particularly enjoyed was Religious Education. The lessons were taught by the school’s chaplain, Reverend Mc Chrioch. The chaplain was funny and entertaining, and I looked forward to his weekly teachings of the Bible.
Apart from teaching, Reverend Mc Chrioch fulfilled other pastoral duties at our school. Every Monday, when the entire school gathered for its weekly assembly, Reverend Mc Chrioch would speak a prayer over us and lead us in singing hymns. Over the course of two years, l learned a variety of beautiful hymns such as “Amazing Grace”, “Be thou my vision”, and “Jerusalem”.
On one particular Monday, Reverend Mc Chrioch asked us to sing a hymn titled “One more step along the road l go” by Sydney Carter. As soon as the lyrics reached my ears, they resonated with me immediately:
“One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go;
From the old things to the new,
Keep me traveling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me traveling along with you.”
That Monday morning, God became very real to me. He was more than the omnipotent, omnipresent Almighty l had read about in class – the God who had released a great flood upon the earth, made the walls of Jericho fall, and spoke from inside a burning bush.
Instead, He was a sympathetic God who knew l was feeling rejected and alone in school. He was my Father who saw how my parents tried to make me into being somebody l wasn’t and could never be.
And yet, God accepted me for who l was. In fact, He loved everything about me because He had created me and declared that His work in me was good, right down to the last hair on my head.
Sitting in that school auditorium, with the hot December sun streaming through the large paned windows behind me, l learned who God was to me: He was my comforter in my pain, my guide through the darkness, and my hope for a better future. l believe that it was on this day that God sowed the seed that led to me giving my life to Him 20 years later.
I left the school at the end of that academic year. Though my time there had been fraught with trials, my parents were content with the extensive knowledge l had acquired through my studies.
However, the most important lesson l had learned was the revelation that God had given me about Himself through the words of a song. That information was life-changing, not the training l received for a life of financial prosperity and prestige.
As a further outcome of my encounter with God, “One more step along the world l ago” became my means of seeking Him when l was confronted with change and adversity. During such times, I would sing the song and walk down the street, imagining that Jesus was holding my outstretched hand as l took one more step on my life journey.
I ended up finishing my secondary education at another private school, where l was very happy. However, in my senior year, I didn’t make the grades to qualify for a place at a law or medicine faculty at university. Instead, l ended up studying German, English, and English literature at a university in Melbourne, which l enjoyed.
My parents were disappointed that l wasn’t going to become a lawyer or a doctor, so l did a minor in Economics to appease them, but it wasn’t what l was really interested in studying.
I never ended up using that Economics minor, though my languages degree proved to be very useful. I moved to Germany where l reveled in immersing myself in a new culture. Additionally, God provided me with a position as a German teacher at an English private school. As l stood in front of my first class, Jesus was by my side.
“Round the corners of the world I turn,
More and more about the world I learn;
All the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me.”
Being a teacher was rewarding, however, 14 years of working 80-hour weeks under immense performance pressure took their toll on me. Three years ago, l had a breakdown and was diagnosed with burnout and depression. I was forced to leave my job in order to convalesce. Again, Jesus was there, comforting me when my life as l knew it irrevocably changed.
“Give me courage when the world is rough,
Keep me loving though the world is tough;”
Today, as l go through the ups and downs of recovery, God is with me. He pulls me out of the dark, miry pits of depression when they want to envelop me; His love is my shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head when l feel overwhelmed and afraid. He guides me through the valley.
“As I travel through the bad and good,
Keep me traveling the way I should,”
Furthermore, God has given me a new direction for my life. He has put it in my heart to spread His Word by becoming a Christian writer and blogger. I may not have met the university requirements to study medicine or law, but God has qualified me, as He has qualified all of us, to be a disciple for all the nations (Matthew 28:19).
“Where I see no way to go,
You’ll be telling me the way, I know.”
Looking back, l can see how God has been guiding my steps throughout my life, to get me to where l am now. My childhood dream of being a writer has come to pass, something that l would never have had the courage to pursue in my own strength.
How glorious that God had set my path before l was even born, and neither man’s expectations nor societal pressure could deter me from it! How reassuring to know that all things work out for good by Him! For when God is for us, who can be against us?
May God continue to guide me, and may l continue to travel along the world with Him, for He is a good, loving, and merciful Father!
“You are older than the world can be,
You are younger than the life in me;
Ever old and ever new,
Keep me traveling along with you.”
About the author:
Madeline Twooney is a Christian writer and blogger. She has written articles for SheLoves, Converge, and Ruminate Magazine and is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and YMI Magazine.
In her spare time, Madeline gets creative as a freelance Special Effects Makeup artist, and she loves dancing to Sister Sledge and Stevie Wonder whilst cooking. Madeline is British but lives in Germany with her husband and their one-eared pussycat. You can contact Madeline at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her at @MTwooney.