I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.
You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23 (which marks the day I became a widow myself) is by the same author. “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.” God wants us to pay attention to His words. God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad. The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company. God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.” As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well. God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hurt-filled world. I continue to be troubled, yes; belabored, indeed; disquieted—that has certainly been my state; but overcome—absolutely not! Jesus will not allow it! He is the rock on which we stand.
On my recent mission trip, we went out to visit women in the community. In order to get to the home of the last woman we were led across a stream of sewage. The only way to not step into the smelly, repulsive stew was to put your foot firmly on the rocks above the squalor. No one could hold your hand to steady you. You were forced to walk across the dangerous, smelly disgusting liquid all alone. To stay out of the muck you needed to plant your feet firmly on the rock. The rocks brought safety from the sewage created by living in a fallen world. We all made it safely across; and not even our shoes were not soiled because we stepped firmly on the rocks. We visited a widow who had built the home she lived in after the death of her husband and raised two daughters and now grandchildren. Her survival was yet another testimony to the troubling, belabouring, disquieting realities that God’s children face in this troubled world.
We live in a world plagued with troubles of death, divorce, disease, betrayal, abandonment, lost dreams, bankruptcy and more. These and many other troubles shock and stun us with their cruel unrelenting presence. Every person you encounter is bearing their personal load of hurt and pain. It is utterly impossible to avoid the hurt of sin. There is a way to overcome it. That way to is put your feet firmly on the rock. When your feet are placed firmly there, you will not overcome.
Eighty-year-old examples are the best. I couldn’t believe my ears when the daughter at one home we visited told us that her 87-year-old father was out working in a farm. I saw him with my own eyes when he returned home during our visit. He was surprised to see us there. I was impressed with his vigor and ability to work for his family including this daughter who had been abandoned by the father of her two children. What an amazing man who’s increasing family obligations drove him to work into his senior years. My eighty-something mother showed me similar faith during this trip. She was in the hospital and on the eve of finding out if her symptoms were due to cancer which would have meant imminent death she told me. “Debi, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. You think about your death when you get my age. I’ve had a good life and where I am going is better than this. I accept whatever the results will show.” She did not have cancer but I received a great example of faith and trust that every Christian can embrace.
Standing on the rock will lead you to the same reality Julian of Norwich describes and Paul proclaimed in Romans 8:37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I will not be overcome by the troubles that remain constant in my life because Christ is the rock on which I stand.