My Own Night Season -Part 2
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Nancy Missler; ©1999|
|How bad could it get before it started getting better? Nancy Missler continues her account of how she “walked through the fire” in the trial of her faith.|
Trial of My Faith
As I waited and watched for the fulfillment of those promises over the next few years, I began to grow impatient. After walking with the Lord for over thirty years, I knew I had to rely on His perfect timing, but I also was a twentieth-century Christian, and this was one of those times when I was desperate for quick answers. My world had shattered almost overnight, so I naturally assumed that the Lord would love just as quickly to bring all these new promises to pass.
Because of this assumption, the hardest part for me over the next seven years was that those glorious promises God had given me up there on that mountaintop never came true. As I experienced God’s Word coming true in all the circumstances surrounding the demise of Chuck’s company and the loss of our home, etc., the personal promises did not. Not only did they not come true, my life experiences proved to be just the opposite—everything in my world crumbled and crashed. So, instead of blessings, more and more trials just kept coming.
“…when I waited for light, there came darkness.” (Job 30:26; cf. Job 5:14; Isa. 59:9)
After the eventual loss of our home, we rented another house in Big Bear, not far from our daughter Lisa. In 1992, a year and a half after the bankruptcy, that rented house turned out to be on the epicenter of a 6.8 earthquake, in which most of our furniture and valuables were destroyed. Actually, we were the lucky ones. Houses on both sides of us twisted off their foundations by as much as ten feet, and even though our house sustained a lot of damage, it was miraculously still standing. There were, however, huge cracks in the walls and the foundation and everything in the house that could break, broke.
It took Lisa and me eight hours to shovel our way from the kitchen door to the kitchen sink. We had to wade through a “knee-high” sea of broken china and glass, shattered appliances and unidentifiable pieces of the house. Most of our furniture and precious family momentos that had survived the bankruptcy were now reduced to rubble—in addition to all the goblets and china from our “millionaire” days. As I surveyed the buckling sidewalks and shattered windows, I couldn’t even bear the thought of starting all over again. As far as I was concerned, our life in Big Bear had finally come to an end.
After the earthquake and through a series of God-directed circumstances, we ended up moving to Northern Idaho. Although we loved the Northwest, we ended up having to move another six times before we were finally able to find a home where we could stay permanently. All of this moving and all of this devastation happened in less than two years and took a tremendous toll on me in every way.
“…my strength and my hope is perished from the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:18)
Even in our new situation in Idaho, God allowed all my hopes and dreams in every area of my life to be frustrated and destroyed. Every arrangement I tried to make blew up in my face. All my expectations went unmet and my plans were continually confounded.
While clinging steadfastly to the promises that God had given me on the mountaintop, I kept expecting things to get better, but they only got worse. I’d somehow survived the shaking of homes, our finances and our friends, but now I began to experience devastating circumstances through much-loved family members, through respected pastors and mentors, through trusted partners and long-time confidantes and in my own personal struggle for ministry. I am not at liberty to relate all the specific details of my darkest hours, because it would offend these beloved people. Suffice to say, the “test of fire” that had forever changed my life on the outside, was now being turned up on the inside, causing incredible anguish and torment.
Some of the things that I wrote in my journal during this time are descriptive of my feelings: “God has abandoned me…” “My prayers are not being heard.” “…I fear I have lost His Love.” “Doubt and confusion are suffocating me…” “I’ll never be able to trust again.” “…I am overwhelmed with depression… discouragement… and disappointment.” “I feel like giving up.”
Some of the other descriptive words I used in my journal were: “destroyed,” “desolate,” “self-centered,” “self-pity,” “anxiousness,” “joyless,” “lost,” “coldness,” “bitterness,” “broken,” “dismayed,” “lifeless,” “betrayed” and “forsaken.”
Job 19:8-10 describes my feelings perfectly, “He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and He hath set darkness in my paths. He hath stripped me of my glory…He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone…”
My world seemed to be crumbling on every side, and yet I still clutched at the memory of those glorious promises. I waited for the Lord’s blessing, and yet that day never seemed to dawn for me. Each painful trial was followed by another trial, and as I waited…and waited…and waited for a break in the clouds, I truly began to understand the meaning of the word “weary.”
Had I Misunderstood God?
Had I somehow misunderstood God? Were those promises only meant to pertain to my spiritual life? No, the Scriptures I had received on the mountain top that day had been far too specific to be “spiritualized.” Then why the incredible delay? Why was I having to endure such a long season of sorrow and dryness? Would I ever again feel the joy of my salvation? I felt like the words of Ezekiel pertained directly to me: “[My] bones are dried [up], and [my] hope is lost: [I am] [completely] cut off…” (Ezekiel 37:11)
Up to this point, I had never heard of the “dark night” or “night seasons” as the Bible calls them (Job 30:17), nor did I fully understand the sanctification process or what God was trying to accomplish in my life. Thus, I fought Him every step of the way which, of course, only made matters worse and much more painful for me. Every time something else “bad” would happen, I’d come out fighting. At times, I felt like God had set me as His mark. And, in a way, I guess He really had. Only, it was because He loved me and wanted me to experience real abundant Life.
I had always loved and served God faithfully. Why would He allow all this devastation in my life? What was happening to me? I knew that I was not in rebellion against God. I had not given in to self-pity, nor was I holding onto unforgiveness, yet there was so much confusion growing inside of me. Although I had faithfully practiced confession and repentance for many years, sharp pieces of doubt were beginning to rise up from the depths of my soul. There seemed to be no answer for what I was experiencing.
I’d made it through the bankruptcy and the earthquake, but when the heat of adversity started affecting all my intimate relationships, my ministry, my personal expectations, and belief systems, I went into a tailspin. The candle of my faith was burning low, and doubt kept trying to rise up and take its place. I couldn’t see or understand what God was doing or why. Had I done something to deserve all this and when was it all going to end?