(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 7 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
In Chapter 7, Never Give Up On What's Important to You, Joyce Meyer challenges us to identify and strengthen our resolve to not lose sight of what matters the most to us. For me, this was easy, the answer is recovering and healing my son from all that holds him back and helping him to live the best life he possibly can. This is the harvest I hope one day to reap and will continue to strive toward, regardless of what comes against me or how long it may take. It's nice to know that I don't have to give up on the possiblity of him having a happy, healthy and full life. Throughout the chapter, Joyce relates the story of Nehemiah, who persevered, battled and held firm in his faith to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, regardless of what his enemies said, did, or how long it took to accomplish. I believe that in this same way we are rebuilding our children's lives. We may not be laying bricks, but step by step, one skill, goal, and triumph at a time we partner with others make this happen in their lives. In the end, Nehemiah was victorious and I believe we can be too.
The journey through autism is quite a storm and Joyce gives us some great and practical strategies to weather this storm as it rages, not lose our strength or focus and remain faithful to the work God has called us to do. First, she recommends that we take cover. On page 94, she writes, "The first place you need to run when a storm hits your life is to the secret place of the Most High, the presence of God. Read His Word; pray; worship Him; tell Him you trust Him as the winds of adversity blow." She goes on further to say that when we do this, we are actually building a wall of protection against the enemy. When we praise God we are able to wield a powerful weapon that will render the enemy powerless against us. Nehemiah and his workers kept at the task of building the wall while wearing their swords. When we praise God and thank Him for every good thing He has done in our lives we are doing the exact same thing.
Expect Opposition: Joyce reminds us that we will often face opposition, ridicule and objections from others as we press toward our goal. Let's face it, being a mother invites judgement, weren't we the ones that were originally blamed for our children's autism ("refrigerator moms")? Thank God those days are behind us, but the fact is we still will face criticism from others who don't understand or support the choices we think are best. Joyce gives some great advice about how to handle this on page 98: Just stand through that storm; hold your peace; and keep doing what you believe in your heart to be right. I have a visual about staying in God's peace, as if it is an invisible shield that surrounds me. I will sometimes remind myself not to step outside of where God wants me, to stay in His peace.
Refuse to Settle: I find that it can be so easy to be sidetracked by the doubts that enter my mind when the going gets tough. In the "What a Mess" section, I thought about how many times I've thought, "What a mess my son's health is", "What a huge developmental gap he has to bridge". There have been times where the facts of his situation hit me particularly hard, as when I'm going into great detail about his medical history with a new doctor or specialist. These are from the enemy and are designed to get me off track, off kilter and steal my strength and focus. I have to consciously remind myself that there is often a difference between "the facts" and "the truth". The facts may be saying that I have an insurmountable mountain in front of me, but the truth is in God's word, and I am "more than a conqueror". (Romans 8:37)
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. "
-Ephesians 6: 13-17
"'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
"You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows."
-Psalm 23: 5
"For nothing is impossible with God."