Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Trusting God with Your Spouse’s Future

Dannah Gresh: Today on Revive Our Hearts we’ll ask some difficult questions: Do you ever feel like you wish it were terminal, like, the pain could be ended?

Kimberly Wagner: You know, Dannah, I want him to be out of the pain, but I keep thinking, Lord, but I still have him.

Leslie Basham: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for September 18, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you or someone you know is going through an intense period of physical suffering, you will want to be sure to listen in today. And even if life seems fine for you right now, you still need to listen to today’s program, because most certainly the day will come when you encounter this kind of difficulty either in your own life or in the life of someone you love.

Now, I warn you: You might want to have some tissues handy, too.

Yesterday, we heard the first part of a sweet conversation between two of my dearest friends, Dannah Gresh and Kimberly Wagner. Kim told us how her husband LeRoy suddenly collapsed one day a couple of years ago.

He suffers from a rare disease that has caused paralysis and keeps him in constant pain. Kimberly is his primary caregiver, so every day is really difficult for both of them. If you’d like to hear yesterday’s program, you’ll find it wherever you get our podcast or at our website,ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, when we left off yesterday, Kim was explaining that she recently taught a women’s Bible study through the New Testament book of James. She mentioned two particular passages in James that stood out to her.

In chapter 5, James talks about “confessing your sins to one another so you can pray for one another so you can be healed.” She said she had to wrestle with that passage and what it means because, for whatever reasons, after much prayer and waiting on the Lord, God has not yet chosen to heal LeRoy.

And then Kimberly mentioned that familiar passage in the opening verses of James where we’re told to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).

As we pick up this conversation between Dannah and Kimberly, Dannah explains that she’s learning some new things even as they’ve been talking.

Dannah: You’re teaching me from James right now. I’m seeing something I haven’t seen before by what you just said, and that is the unique and contrasting bookends of the entire book of James.

Kimberly: Right.

Dannah: At the beginning, he says, “Submit to this trial, submit to this testing. In fact, go ahead and count all the reasons why you can be joyful.” 

I can remember a time when my husband was in a life-threatening accident. I found that passage, and the Lord said, “Write the list. Stop sitting on the pain. Sit down and write down all the reasons why this is a painful time.”

Kimberly: That’s it.

Dannah: I was only a nurse to my husband for about one month, Kimberly. You have done this for two years.

Kimberly: But, Dannah, let me just step in and say. I want to hear what else you’re going to say, but there will be people listening that they feel bad in comparing their struggle with whatever I’m going through. I’ve noticed that with friends who don’t want to share their prayer requests because they think it’s miniscule compared to what I’m walking through. It’s not miniscule. That’s the challenge God’s given you at the time, and it’s hard. It’s hard.

So I beg people: Don’t compare what you’re walking through. I want to minister to you, too. I know what you’re going through is hard.

Dannah: So no matter how big your trial might be or how small it is right now, Kimberly’s story is for you. James is for you.

So at the beginning, James says, “Embrace this pain.” And then at the end, it’s like he comes in and says, “Now that you’ve been submissive and obedient, it’s okay to pray for the miracle. It’s okay to pray for the healing. It’s okay to reach out for the hope.”

Kimberly: Yes. And we know when we pray in faith, we’re praying just as Paul did, in faith, three times for that thorn, whatever it was, to be removed. And God’s answer to him was the same as it is to us, whether there’s healing or not, “My grace is sufficient for you. My grace is sufficient, and My power is displayed through weakness” (see 2 Cor. 12:9).

It’s tied to the prayer of faith that Jesus gave in the Garden of Gethsemane. It has to have that as its foundation, where Jesus was praying in faith. When He said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39).

Dannah: And consider the agony of those prayers, that He was sweating blood.

Kimberly: Yes!

Dannah: Have any of us ever been in that kind of agony?

Kimberly: Facing something none of us will ever face, bearing the guilt. I know how bad I feel over my own guilt. He’s bearing the weight of the guilt of all He would go to the cross to forgive.

Dannah: I was thinking about that—bearing the guilt part of the cross—recently. For three hours, I believe, the earth was dark while Jesus hung on that cross and the guilt of the world hung upon Him.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dannah: For the first time in my life, I thought about it as my dark nights of shame. You know those nights, I think many of us have experienced, where we’re fully mindful of how sinful we’ve been. It’s not just a fact of, “I need to confess this.” We are in the turmoil of the pain and the shame and the guilt and the condemnation and the lies ringing through our head that Jesus felt what I felt that night times—what?—billions?

Kimberly: Billions! Yes! Over all of the thousands of years since and before.

Dannah: Oh. (Heavy sigh.)

Now, I want to share a piece of how the darkness of this earth has really touched your husband LeRoy. That darkness, that despondency, he describes it in Nancy and Robert’s book . . . I have to say, when I got to these sentences, I just had to close the book and cry a little bit because I considered you. And so, I want to ask you what you feel and what you think when you hear these words.

The book reads, “What did LeRoy do in the face of his despair?” 

And he answered, “I cry a lot. I think tears are good.”

Kimberly: Yes.

Dannah: And he continued, 

Then I began to think about the goodness of God and all the ways He’s been so good to us. I counsel my heart, going over Scriptures that I know are true. Some day that exercise helps take my mind off of the pain. Other days the pain is so intense, all I can do is cry out to Him.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dannah: And then Robert asked him a really brave question, from the book: “Are there times when you wish it was terminal?” 

And LeRoy replied, “I would welcome death. Many times I wanted the Lord to take me instead of continuing in this condition.”

Kimberly: Yes. I can understand that so much because, as you watch him wracked in pain and wondering, How many more days can I survive this pain? And then you think, How many more years? Because it isn’t a terminal, life-threatening condition that he has. There is no looking out and saying, “Well, the doctor’s given us four months, or six months, or a year.” It’s the unknown of, “How long will I endure this pain?”

He fights for joy in the pain. He said, “I may not any longer be able to stand and preach and minister in the same way I have as before, but three things I can do while I’m in this chair.” Most of the time he’s in a reclining chair where he tries to get a little bit of relief. And he said, “I can pray,” which we do a lot together. “I can worship, and I can read Scripture.” And he does that.

Dannah: I want to ask you a question—well, I don’t want to ask you this question, but I feel like there’s probably someone listening that’s caring for someone—an aging parent or a spouse or even a child—and maybe feels some guilt based on what I’m going to ask you.

Kimberly: Okay.

Dannah: Do you ever feel like you wish it were terminal, that the pain could be ended?

Kimberly: You know, Dannah, I want him to be out of the pain, but I keep thinking, Lord, but I still have him. Sometimes I feel like that’s a selfish thing.

Dannah: So there are hard emotions.

Kimberly: Oh, there’s very hard emotions. Because LeRoy is dealing with so much, I don’t want him to have to deal with my weeping—not that he couldn’t, but he already feels so bad. He at times struggles with the fact that he has sidelined our ministry or our lives. Now, he knows, theologically, he knows in his head, that he hasn’t. God has done this for God’s good purposes. But I don’t want to add to his heaviness by just weeping in front of him all the time. So I slip outside.

It is a good practice for a good caregiver to step outside and to breathe in some fresh air. And I slip outside. I take a walk. I cry. I talk to the Lord. I bear it all to Him.

I have some good friends. I have the sisterhood that I call on. I have another dear friend whose husband, shortly after LeRoy began having nerve issues, had debilitating issues. He’s in ministry, and it’s affecting his ministry. She and I communicate frequently. She is a mature believer. So we are preaching truth to each other in a way that’s not like preaching. We are sharing truth. But we can encourage one another knowing that—she’s in about the same place I am, and I’m in the place she is—so that’s with understanding.

Dannah: It’s really important not to isolate, isn’t it?

Kimberly: It is very important to have a network of believers and friends—I’m not saying a lot of people, but those who are truth speakers—in your life, encouragers, prayer warriors. And that’s one of the things I thank God for.

It is so important, Dannah, to begin the morning—and I do begin the morning this way: Thanking God for so many different things. Because in those times of thankfulness—for one thing, that’s being obedient to Scripture—but it turns your heart to what’s true. Because the danger in being a caregiver, one of the biggest dangers, is the sin of coveting.

Dannah: In what way?

Kimberly: You can covet, “Oh, if I only had what she has. That woman has a man who can walk hand-in-hand with her. That woman has a man who can take care of her.” Or, if it’s the mother of a child that can’t run and play athletic games, she can covet having something that right now God hasn’t given her. And that is a dangerous place to be as a caregiver. You can become bitter. Resentful. Bitter towards God.

Dannah: And you combat that with gratitude.

Kimberly: With gratitude because you thank God for all of the good things He’s doing. Gratitude and the knowledge of who God is.

Dannah: I was reading the other day, because I think it can sound trite when you’re in the midst of a deep trial to tell someone to be grateful. It doesn’t make sense to have gratitude out of the tragedy and the brokenness and the despair.

But not only does God’s Word tell us that that’s what we’re supposed to do, but there’s some really interesting new neuro-science that tells us that when we’re grateful that our brain responds differently.

The book of Philippians says that “whatever is good, lovely, true”—this is a Dannah-paraphrase because I always get them all mixed up.

Kimberly: Philippians 4:8

Dannah: Right. Do you get the order of the verse right when you say it?

Kimberly: No, no, I don’t.

Dannah: So “whatever is good, lovely, true”—all those things—“think on these things.” And then the next verse, which we sometimes don’t include, says, “And the God of all peace will be with you.” And it really does work.

Kimberly: Oh, I’m so glad you brought that out, because science is just now catching up to the Bible.

Dannah: That’s right.

Kimberly: And it is true. There is an actual physical feeling that is—neurological, whatever—that happens when we do what Scripture says, “to give thanks in all things.” Give thanks in all things, and there are ways to do that.

Dannah: What are some practical ways? Because, I think there’s probably one woman listening right now who really needs to write that list of gratitude, express that gratitude, but it does seem really impossible. It’s hard for her to believe in the state that she’s in that it could help. So, what are some practical ways for that woman that you think she could put that into practice and see that it really does help?

Kimberly: Let me just give you an example of just some things that I do.

Of course, there’s the thankfulness in the morning of just, “I thank You for that beautiful sunrise.” And those things that everybody can be thankful for.

But in my situation, like someone is taking a vacation to Hawaii, which I would love to go on with LeRoy but may never travel on an airplane again. I don’t know. But what I do is, I thank the Lord for all of those times that we have traveled together in the past.

Dannah: You remember.

Kimberly: I remember. I know that many people have not had the privilege to do those things we’ve done. So there’s a lot of things I can be thankful for.

I’m thankful that in the new heaven and the new earth LeRoy and I can explore much more than we ever had before.

I’m thankful for friends.

I’m thankful for the fact that LeRoy still has his mind. I know he may not always have that. I’m thankful for that.

Dannah, there are so many things we can be thankful for.

I’m thankful for color.

I’m thankful for smell.

I’m thankful for, when LeRoy does have a better day than normal, I’m thankful for that.

Dannah: That’s beautiful.

Kimberly: But, when you’re mentioning telling others they should have gratitude in the midst of that, I think—and I’ve seen you do this, Dannah—it is good to be that example rather than telling people to do it.

I remember a time when a friend of ours had a very, very difficult day—very difficult season. Through a group text message, you just began to pour out gratitude for her, specific ways that you had seen her characterize the Lord or helpful things she had done. You put out this long list of gratitude.

By you doing that to every woman who was on that text message, you were giving the example of how to give thanks, how to show gratitude. I think as we do that, model that, that will be picked up more than us telling people they should do that.

Dannah: You’re right. And that might be an encouragement for pastors’ wives who are listening and are ministering to women who are in similar situations such as yours, that we have to be very careful. We can hurt people that are going through hard things when we tell then what they should do or where they should go for help or the diet they should eat. Have you heard some of that?

Kimberly: (laughter) I’m laughing because on my blog, when I first started sharing about LeRoy, you should see the great, vast number of medical advice, comments we received with medical advice and all kinds of links, and “Do this,” and “Do that,” and that’s really not that helpful at the time.

My friend who has had a physical therapy clinic, her words were helpful because she was knowledgeable, and we had a long-term friendship. She was able to come alongside and give some helpful input.

But if you’re trying to preach at someone what they should do when you’ve never suffered like that, that can be very . . .

Dannah: Like rubbing salt in the wound.

Kimberly: Yes. That is not “weeping with those who weep,” which is what we need to do.

What did Jesus do? He wept at the grave of Lazarus. Even though He knew He was about to raise him from the dead, He took time to weep with those who were weeping because that’s important, and also because He was showing us the example of doing that.

Dannah: Yes. We don’t have to be afraid of our emotions.

Kimberly: No. God gave us those.

Dannah: They are a gift from Him, but we can’t let them drive us.

Kimberly: No.

Dannah: I guess that’s what you’re doing when you’re turning to gratitude.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dannah: As I have been praying for you and LeRoy, someone I thought about a lot is Amy Carmichael.

Kimberly: Yes. I read her almost every day! I have so many books by Amy Carmichael, and there are so many similarities.

Dannah: For those who that’s a new name, Amy Carmichael was a missionary in India. She was really ahead of her time in terms of being a fighter against human trafficking.

Kimberly: Exactly. Before that was a term, she was doing it.

Dannah: Right. She was rescuing little girls out of brothels, teenagers out of brothels.

Kimberly: Temple prostitution.

Dannah: Yes. And what a fruitful ministry she had. So fruitful. And yet, she spent so many . . .

Kimberly: Twenty years, the last twenty years of her life she was bedridden from a horrific accident there in India where the doctor told her that in eight weeks she would be walking again, she would be fine. But, no. The pain continued. It continued for the last twenty years of her life.

Dannah: How does that story speak to you?

Kimberly: Do you know what God did through her in those last twenty years?

Dannah: Tell us.

Kimberly: He had her write things. He had Amy Carmichael write words that would so minister to this heart, to LeRoy’s heart, in the early morning hours of our suffering, of our wondering, of our pain. She’s written I don’t know the exact number of books, but multiple books in that last twenty years, far more than she would have been able to do if she hadn’t been bedridden. They minister to countless numbers of people throughout these more than sixty years now since she’s been passed.

Dannah: God’s produced unimaginable fruit in those years. I wonder if she looked at those years and said, “Lord, but You were using me. And now, how am I being used?” I wonder if she ever asked that question? I wonder if her family and friends did? Or those girls that were rescued, who loved her so dearly like a mom, I wonder if they did?

Kimberly: They did! And she did at times. But she trusted. She writes about that. She writes about the difficulty and the hardness. 

Dannah: That makes me wonder this: What fruit will we look back on in ten years, twenty years, maybe sixty years, and say, “Look what God did in Kimberly and LeRoy Wagner during those hard years”?

Kimberly: I pray. I pray God does.

Nancy: Wow! The divine Scriptwriter takes our lives through various unexpected twists and turns, ways that honestly we would never have directed the plot if we had been writing our own scripts. But in the end, as we’ve been hearing from Kimberly Wagner and Dannah Gresh, God knows best, and we have to stand back and wonder and worship.

Kimberly will be back to pray with us in just a moment, but if you’re having trouble trusting God as your Scriptwriter, I want to encourage you to get a copy of a book that my husband Robert and I have written called, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. The subtitle is: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence.

In this book, we look into the stories of various people who are facing some tough situations, including our dear friends Kim and LeRoy. The various people whose stories we tell in this book are learning to trust God in the midst of various trials that they are facing.

I think this book will be a great encouragement to you or to someone you know who is in a difficult season. And throughout the month of September, this book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, is available to you as our way of saying, “thank you,” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

To make a donation, you can visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. Be sure to ask for the book about trusting God to write your story. I want to thank you so much for your support at this important time in our ministry.

Now, tomorrow we’re going to see what hope God has to offer those who feel despair because they’re childless or because they’re widows. We’ll take a closer look at the 54th chapter of Isaiah. I hope you’ll be with us to listen in.

Now, here are Dannah and Kimberly to close our time together.

Dannah: Kimberly, you have been praying the prayer of faith over your husband, and I believe there is probably somebody listening right now that needs someone to pray that prayer of faith with them because they might not have the same trust that God has graced you with. Would you pray over her?

Kimberly: I’d be glad to.

Oh, Father, we want to just stop right now and acknowledge Your goodness and thank You for Your graciousness. You have a kind and tender heart, and all good gifts come from You.

And I thank You that in our wondering over the difficulty, and for this listener, this woman, this individual who’s listening today who may be so struggling, maybe walking a different path than what I’m on, but huge obstacles, maybe suffering in a far greater way than I could ever imagine; I thank You that You are the same God. You are able to rescue. You are able to deliver. You are able to do abundantly beyond what we could ask or think.

And yet, I ask for this one in the same vein of faith that the Lord Jesus lifted His prayer to You, Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to say, “Not our will, not my will, but Your will be done.” Your will be done.

I lift up that woman who’s not yet reached the place that she can say, “Oh, God, Your will be done.” Oh, draw her close to know You more so she can understand that everything that You do, You are the Judge of all the earth, and all that You do is good and right. All that You bring, You are the Life Giver.

And although we now are in a world full of sickness and evil and depravity, You are our Rescuer. You are our Deliverer. And You are able to give grace that is sufficient, and I ask that You pour out Your grace on her today. Give her hope because You, Lord Jesus, are our Hope. Give her peace.

And, Holy Spirit, would You draw her to Your Word and open her eyes to understand just who You are in Your Word. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your promise that You will never leave us or forsake us. You do not turn Your back on Your own. Help that woman to remember that and to remind herself of that at times when her feelings and her emotions are driving her rather than Your Spirit and Your Word driving her.

I want to ask for deep comfort, because You are the Father of all comforts. Would You comfort her in her distress? In Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah: That was beautiful.

Share your story with #TrustGodToWriteYourStory. Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speakers

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner’s passion is Christ, and she desires to ignite women's pursuit of God's glory. She's the author of Fierce Women, and is a frequent guest on the Revive …

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