We asked our next door neighbor, Elissa Hawley, to share with you her testimony. Two years ago she found out she had kidney failure, among other health problems, at the age of 24. Her choice to have a biblical perspective through it all has been so encouraging to everyone here at NTM Canada (she is on staff and serves in the childcare department), and we hope you are blessed by what she has to share!
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
God has been teaching me so much over the past two years. I have grown significantly in my walk with God and that is because they have been some of the most difficult years of my life, but also a great blessing, too. God’s word says that we will grow through trials (James 1:2-3).
In December 2010 I found out that I have kidney failure and an underactive thyroid, which was just the beginning of finding out all the health problems that I have. By that time I had already been dealing with fluid retention for more than a year and a half. I was planning to head to Interface in Papua New Guinea by June 2011 to serve on the campus there, but God has way bigger plans for me than I do.
Psalm 127:1: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
My plans need to match God’s plan for me.
God is ALWAYS good! Think about what that means. During my hardest days as I wondered if I could keep going, I had to keep reminding myself of God’s unchangeable character, He is always good. There is a song that encouraged me during those hard times. I would sing it over and over again when I was feeling discouraged. The chorus is, “You are good always and in all ways, you are working all things together for our good, you are good always in big and small ways, I know I can trust you in everything you do”.
Through this trail I have dealt with many different emotions, but God eventually brought me to the end of myself. I could no longer rely on me (there was nothing left), but on Him alone. It was a process and did not just happen overnight. I still struggle with wanting to have more control over my life than I do, but I am learning to rest in God’s plan for me. For the first six months of my health situation I felt like an emotional rollercoaster as I slowly watched my dreams shatter before my eyes. The kidney specialist said there was no way to cure me and the treatment could be worse than what I already have. I have sought help from help from a naturopath as well, but with not much improvement. At the beginning of this trial I felt like I deserved my health, but was reminded of something I heard a few years ago.
“If God never does anything else for me or never answers another one of my prayers, He has already done more for me than I deserve by taking my place on the cross and giving me eternal life.”
This helped put things into perspective, I do not deserve good health, but that is one of God’s blessings. We feel we are entitled to certain things and if God takes them from us it makes us angry. The only thing to which I am truly entitled is death because of my sin, but God has saved me from that punishment and has given me eternal life with Him.
When I was going through the hardest time with accepting my situation I asked a lot of “why” questions, but I felt like if my faith was grounded I should just accept what God allowed and not question His plan. I just wanted all of the sickness and the stress of it to be over. It felt like a nightmare and I was hoping I would just wake up from my dream. I wondered why I was born, what’s the purpose if I die before I am 30? Then I would think, what is wrong with me that I think that way? At that time I was reading through Job and realized I was not alone in my questions. It is encouraging to know that Job had some of the same questions I did. Other questions I asked were: Why did God allow me to go through all my missionary training before I found out how sick I was? What is the purpose of all of this? I know that I am created to glorify God, so how can He be glorified through this? I kept thinking, why me? I had plans for my life, but are they God’s plans? I realized it is not wrong to ask why, but in the end I need to trust that God’s plan is perfect and whatever He allows is for His glory.
I got to the point where I wanted God to take me to heaven; living was too hard, facing these daily struggles. I am okay with dying since heaven is where I am ultimately headed anyways. God was working on my attitude in this too and after a few weeks my thinking began to change. Now when I wake up I think, “God has given me another day. I do not know why I am alive today, except that God wants to use me today”. God worked on my heart to where I started praying for opportunities to share my testimony of what God is doing in my life, because if I live or die I pray that God uses me to bring others to Himself (Philippians 1:20-24). Now each morning when I wake up I praise God for a new day to live and ask what He has in store for me. I know that each day He gives me is for a purpose. I want to keep glorifying Him and sharing all the blessings He has shown me.
Another Bible passage that has encouraged me is:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
This life is so short and what happens here is not as important as eternity. It is my prayer that my testimony remains strong even with all that is happening in my life and that my focus stays on what is important.
Ten months after my diagnosis God gave me a peace that passes all my understanding. It was like all the things I knew in my head about God, finally rested in my heart. It is so freeing to have peace in my soul, knowing that God has everything under His control. I still have tough days, but God’s peace is always there. Others can see the peace God has given me and to many it makes no sense (it does not make sense to me most of the time). I then have the opportunity to share how I do not rely on my own strength, but it is God at work in me; He is sovereign over every situation.
John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
We are so thankful for Elissa and that she is cheerfully serving through working in childcare! Because of what she is doing, moms, wives, and single ladies are able to attend and take part in classes every day at the Missionary Training Centre. Please keep Elissa in your prayers!