Christian Women's Magazine | Trusting in God's Mercy and Grace

JBU Summer 2014

By Shelly Esser

Every couple of years I put together a family Christmas letter to send out. While it’s meant to keep connected to our long-distance families and friends, it’s also a documentary on our family’s life over the last several years – a family history, if you will. I always look forward to sitting down and reflecting very intentionally over the many ways God has showed up in our lives.

Of course this year’s letter couldn’t have been complete without the celebration of our daughter's health after a long medical crisis. In June we saw the surgeon for the last time and all of us rejoiced over this huge milestone. Anna’s kidney was finally completely healed! So even though, at times, I’m a little hesitant to share such victories too loudly because “you know who” might hear me, I needed to for all of us and for all those who have followed our journey these last five years. So there it was in print for all the world to see. We were beyond celebrating!

Now here I am a month later facing the temptation to doubt, panic, and relive that medical nightmare. Anna didn’t go to school today, because she is having kidney pain. (For the first time in almost two years!) To see that old-familiar-fear in her eyes this morning resulted in a pit in my stomach and that awful feeling of helplessness. To even write down those words sends a quick and cold chill throughout my body. When we had to drag out the heating pad last night for the first time in years (a regular ritual while she was sick) I could almost hear the enemy laughing in my face. “See, God didn’t really heal Anna. He didn’t answer your prayers. Why don’t you just get it over with and admit He didn’t work like you told everybody He did?”

“NO,” my heart battled. “I will trust God and keep choosing to trust Him; you will not shake my confidence in God!”

Isn’t it just like the enemy to masterfully slide in just in time to try and steal the show ─ to steal away some major victory, some major healing, some major spiritual progress we’ve made in our lives replacing it with doubt, fear, and discouragement? “But greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). What happens when healing doesn’t come, or a medical condition resurfaces, or the pain doesn’t subside, or our circumstances continue for years? Each day is a new day to respond faithfully to God because faith that moves forward triumphs.

So where am I at this moment? A part of me is trying not to go to the worst-case scenario. Like before I know I need to take a deep breath and trust God’s character and what I know to be true about Him. I am choosing with my will to put myself in the same trust mode that has held me for the last five years.

Like all of us, I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Maybe it’s just a fluke – Anna’s pain doesn’t mean anything – maybe it isn’t. I don’t know at this point. Maybe, it’s God’s gentle reminder to me to never forget the years in the wilderness. Maybe God never intended for me to breathe a sigh of relief, but rather has wanted me to maintain that same kind of desperate dependence on Him that was so second nature in the wilderness. How easy it is to let go of His hand when times are good, when the pressure is off, when in reality, His plan for us is to never let go of His hand. Whether I realize it or not, I am always in desperate need of God.

I have walked this journey long enough now to know that He is walking it with me and He knows the way ahead so I don’t have to be afraid. He sees around the corner of my tomorrow and my fearful mother’s heart and He is adequately prepared for it. 

And because of that, so am I.

Today Psalm 16:8 has been a comfort to my soul, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (some translations use moved).” In other words…I will not be shaken by fear, heartbreak, doubt, disappointment, brokenness, illness, flashbacks or any other thing that can be thrown at me. I will trust in God's mercy and grace. My confidence is secure. His right hand will keep me and nothing I face will ever shake me because I am setting the Lord always before me holding on in desperate dependence!

In the busyness and stresses of going about the business of ministry work, it’s easy to become not just over-worked, but over-tired, and overwhelmed. Read more

Pastors' Wives

Your own experience with God’s Word is all the evidence you need of its clout. What transformed you is the same Word you use when you teach, counsel, or witness. Read more

Ministry Life

Grammy-award-winning artist Laura Story talks about finding God’s blessings when our world is shaken. Read more

Inspirational Stories

What do you do when prayer feels like an exercise in futility and your spirit feels as arid as July in the desert? Let down your empty net, Jesus can fill it! Read more

Spiritual Health

Moms and daughters have conflict. It’s part of being a family. But, moms deserve our respect. They also need grace like the rest of us—and they probably deserve it even more. Read more

Relationship Health

The basis for confidence in our ministries, and the key that unlocks fruitfulness, is the power inherent in God’s Word. Read more

Ministry Life

Victims of human sex trafficking are finding hope in one of the darkest places on earth. Read more


You can make a difference in reaching victims of human trafficking so that their lives can be transformed and the love of Jesus can bring healing. Read more


Resources to help push back the darkness of human sex trafficking. Read more