It was Easter Sunday morning and I was eagerly longing to gather with our church, as is one of our family's habits. Instead, I found myself holding our youngest son through a drawn-out and severe seizure, watching him endure a trial I wished I could take away. This was one of several seizures that he had in early 2021. Only this time it was happening on the morning we Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. And this time, none of the emergency medicines were working to stop the seizure. It was three hours before doctors could get it to stop—after inducing a coma and giving more rounds of meds.
This was not the first incident that had us practically tasting death on behalf of our son. It was as though the bitter pill had been raised to our mouths only for us to eventually receive permission to set it down again. It’s quite natural, in moments like that one, to feel wobbly—as though you’ve been spun around several times and are trying to walk a straight line of faithfulness. Yet, having now lived through several previously unthinkable scenarios, I can say with a measure of confidence that it’s the things that you don’t have to think about doing that carry you through the worst of times.
A Witness to Faithful Habits
Every summer, we travel out west to visit family and enjoy the mountains for a few weeks. And every summer, we attend a small rural church while we’re far away from our own church family. This church has become our home away from home—our church away from church. One wonderful thing the church does each Sunday is pass a microphone around to hear prayer requests and praises from her people. On the Sunday we visited, a woman raised her hand to speak and started praising God for the kindness of the people around her, how they’d supported and helped her over the past several days. It took me a little while to understand that this woman’s husband had passed away less than a week prior. He had clearly been known and loved by the congregation, as was the dear woman sharing her thankfulness through her tears.
As I listened, I noticed that as the woman wept, there was something clear and beautiful in her voice. It was the sound of certainty. Certainty of her husband’s union with the Lord, of God’s love for her even though she faced loss, and that she would walk through the painful days ahead with the help and love of God’s people around her.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we should not neglect meeting together. Rather, in our meetings, we should encourage one another. This meeting together helps us prepare for “the Day” of judgment drawing near (Heb. 10:25). I witnessed such a meeting and such encouragement and such preparation for judgment that Sunday. You see, when trials come, our habits remain. That fresh widow was in church that Sunday to share her sorrow and thankfulness because that was her family. Meeting with them was simply what she did week after week.
Habits Help in Extraordinary Trials
Oh, there are plenty of things that will challenge your abilities and stretch you beyond reason when faced with a trial—but reading your Bible every day isn’t one of those things. It’s the thing that we do without needing to decide to do it, like eating lunch—it’s a habit that sustains us. Praying in the midst of the trial isn’t part of the trial. It’s the lifeline to the throne of grace that keeps us afloat. Gathering with God’s people isn’t a burden added to our burden. It’s the place where we go to have our burden lifted as the body of believers—God’s ministers of peace and grace—cares for us.
It’s the godly habits that have worn a deep groove of normalcy that make the abnormal and extraordinary trials bearable and survivable. Those habits are what keep our Christian sanity and wits about us. They are God’s means of grace for walking through every circumstance we will ever face.
Praise God that those habits can be cultivated right now—before the next trial hits. Praise God that the best preparation for whatever is to come is to habitually do what will serve your soul right now, regardless of what the future holds—that is, listen to God in his Word, speak to him in prayer, and gather with his people regularly. The certain trust that I heard in the widow’s voice in our church away from church was not a fluke or a strong constitution. It was not someone who was gutting it out. It was the evidence of a life full of grace that had flowed to her through godly habits. Let’s not neglect them, sisters.
Meet the Author:
Abigail Dodds (MA, Bethlehem College & Seminary) is a wife and mother of five children. She is a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities where her husband, Tom, serves as an elder. In addition to tending their bustling home, she writes for desiringGod.org and occasionally blogs at her personal site, hopeandstay.com.