It was 10 years ago this week that I finally yielded to my wife’s urging, and went to see a neurologist. She had noticed a slight tremor in my right hand, and I told the doctor, “I just want to make sure I don’t have Parkinson’s.” Twenty minutes later, after some testing, he informed me that it appeared that I did have Parkinson’s disease.
Wow, my world was rocked. I knew nothing about the disease, other than a few folks that I had observed in the more severe stages of it, trembling and stumbling along. I was 53 years old and wasn’t sure I was ready for this news.
As we shared the news that evening with our pastor, his wife shared some encouragement with me that I have never forgotten. She assured me that God would either deliver me from the disease, or He would take me “through the fire.”
The next morning as I was driving to the office to share the news with my staff, I heard a song on a southern gospel radio station. It was a new song by the Crabb Family, and it was entitled, “Through the Fire.” The words spoke to me with an incredible reassurance of what I had been told the night before:
“He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered a victory without fighting.
He said help would always come in time.
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
and the adversary says give in, Just hold on.
Our Lord will show up
and He will take you through the fire again.”
So what is my point? It seems so many folks who have dedicated their entire lives to the livestock industry are being challenged in ways never before imagined. I’m sure many feel like they are going “through the fire” alone. It behooves all of us to come around and support those who are feeling discouragement and despair.
It might be defending a local zoning issue about the concerns of a new hog confinement barn you need to remain competitive, or maybe your kids have shown no interest in continuing your farming operation, and your dreams of passing along the legacy are crumbling.
One of my favorite responses from those passionately involved in our industry is, “Farming is not what I do, but it is what I am.” That is so true, and it makes “fighting the fight” a little easier.
You’ve not been promised an easy road, but you have a tremendous support network around you – it is up to each of us to be sensitive to those who are in need, and reach out to encourage them.
Most importantly, you have a mighty big God who doesn’t want you to fail. He will see you “through the fire!”