Proclaiming God's Faithfulness Through Generations
Words by Candace Echols
I leaned over to pull on my brown fringed boots for the first time this fall and a thought occurred to me: so much has happened since the last time I wore these boots. So much has changed worldwide outside our home, but this summer, something radical shifted in my own family. One of my children was diagnosed with a chronic neurologic condition, and our world as we knew it was turned upside down.
Thankfully, some women from church who are a generation ahead of me have helped to steady my family in every way imaginable. They brought home-cooked meals to nourish our bodies and encouraging words to nourish our souls. They have said things that lift me up— things like, “You are going to be amazed at how God will use this in the life of every member of your family. Just wait.” Another woman shared, “You can do hard things. Maybe you’ve never had to before, but God will give you what you need. I know because that’s what he’s done for me.”
The testimonies of these older sisters buoyed me like a life raft. Their eyes—eyes that had been gentled by the passing of time—evidenced dark nights of the soul, but in the same moment, some of them almost seemed excited for me. They knew God had good things in store, despite the pain I was facing—or maybe because of it. Age and experience had taught them about his nearness to the brokenhearted, and I was the beneficiary of their life experience. Psalm 92:12-15 says, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
These older sisters sustained me with stories of God’s goodness in the hardest parts of their own lives. In a season of bitterness, hearing their testimonies of God’s faithfulness in their lives tasted like fruit to me.
To my fellow Generation X’ers, Millennials, and Gen Z sisters, I’m four months into this new norm and I am already catching glimpses of the light that these women have told me about. But something more profound dawned on me as I laid my daughter’s health journey alongside the novel challenges of parenting today like issues related to gender, technology, pandemic, and race. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
The ways parenting challenges were fleshed out in the past may look different than they do now, but the human heart is the same. There is a unique blessing that comes from listening to testimonies of God’s wisdom from believers walking ahead of us in this life. This is one of the many beauties of the Body of Christ.
Women a generation or two older than me undoubtedly know someone close who has walked a similar path to mine, even if they haven’t had the same challenges themselves. Many older women are well-acquainted with nearly every season of marriage or even divorce. They know the pain of losing a parent or a spouse. Many have felt cancer in their bodies, and others have been to the funeral of a friend’s child. They’ve watched pastors come and go and have seen church splits and restorations. Some of them are prayerfully awaiting the return of a prodigal child. Some live with daily physical pain, and almost all have supported those they love through health difficulties.
Our seasoned sisters have earned their stripes when it comes to walking life’s hardest paths as children of God on this earth, and we do ourselves a tremendous disservice when we do not access their discernment with regularity. Proverbs 19:20 prods us: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Younger women, the onus is on us to move toward our older sisters with humble respect, seeking to plumb the depths of their wisdom. Reaching out with curious interest will most often be met with appreciation and delight that someone sees their life experience for exactly what it is—invaluable.
If you don’t know where to start, start small. Introduce yourself to an older woman you don’t know at church and begin a conversation. Ask a grandmother or older family friend if you can take her out for lunch—and ask more questions than you answer. It will be better than a book on Audible or the latest podcast. It will be someone’s live testimony to the faithfulness of the God of all creation.
To the Boomers, Silents, and those dear members of the Greatest Generation, I am speaking on behalf of the women who are younger than you and I am going to be bold: please don’t be shy about sharing your stories of God’s steadfast love with us. They are gritty and beautiful and we need them more desperately than you realize. Some of you have walked faithfully with God longer than we have been alive, and you have seen him redeem things we can’t fathom. Right now, our world feels as if it’s getting darker everyday—but Christ-followers are fed by stories of his faithfulness in the dark. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that in this world, we will have trouble. You couldn’t have made it all these years without seeing difficulty. You’ve seen him do miracles that have enabled you to stay the course of faithfulness. Share how God has met you in a tough season or on a long, hard road because these testimonies showcase the glory and beauty of Christ.
All women can look around and think about who God might have naturally put in our path. Who do you already know? Who is walking a similar path you have walked? Reach out by sending a text or a note in the mail. It might feel awkward at first, but there is treasure to be found in these relationships. The reward of a powerfully interconnected Body of Christ is most certainly worth the risk.
Last summer, when my daughter’s neurologic symptoms began, an acquaintance who works in the nursery at church sought me out. She said this to me: “I’ve been exactly where you are. As a matter of fact, two of my grown children have the same disorder as your child, and I can tell you, there will come a day when this will all be a faint memory. You won’t believe how God’s going to use this, Candace. It’s hard to imagine now, but someday, you might find you are thankful for it.” She’s living in that someday, and her journey isn’t over. She has taught me that every story can be used by God to draw us to himself, even the hard ones. I’ve grown much closer to her over the last four months and I now realize why she goes out of her way to encourage me. It’s the same reason she works in the nursery, and it’s summed up in Psalm 78:5-7. “He established a testimony… that the next generation might know… so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”