(The following is Palmira Guardia’s testimony.)
One day in the summer of 2003, I was at a park with my son in Aurora. Two ladies greeted me and handed me a card inviting me to their church, Sovereign Grace Church. These ladies were Sung Trainor and Lora Frey. We found out that Lora and I were neighbors. She lived across from me, and we became friends and so did our kids.
Lora invited me several times to come to her church, and one day I decided to visit the church, just one time. Many people welcomed me. They were so kind and friendly. At that moment, something changed within my heart. I felt so much peace and joy, and loved being around these people. Ever since that day, this is my church.
I was a single mom working full time. Most days I found myself running around, like chasing the wind. For the most part, that was my daily routine.
I knew God’s Word was very important as a Christian, but it was a low priority. And the years continued to go by.
Back in the summer of 2016, I had my job, money, good health, plans, and independence, but one day I woke up with some pain in my left thigh which I didn’t pay much attention to, but in the course of some hours, it became so severe that I ended up going to ER. Following ER came many doctors visits, different specialists, and PT, but no one could give a diagnosis, and day by day I became weaker with severe pain, almost unable to walk, and losing my physical function. I lost my job and then experienced injustice when I applied for disability. My life became small, and I was consumed with my fears, uncertainties and doubts. They were my constant companions. I was praying to God to heal me, but I was also going my own way trying to find doctors, putting my hope in finding solutions through treatments, and medicine, etc, trying to get back to the life I knew. In my despair I agreed to have a surgery, hoping to put an end to my pains, but things went the other way and got worse. As my trials became severe with pain, lack of sleep, options for help and healing were exhausted, I started to wonder if maybe I didn’t deserve God’s mercy and kindness.
The Lord then started to minister to me through worship songs. Through these songs I discovered many rich Scriptures.
Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” (ESV)
Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. “(ESV)
Psalm 139: 23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (NASB)
Psalm 22:19 “But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. “(NIV)
Psalm 39:4 “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (ESV)
I confessed and repented for not nourishing my soul with His Word and for not resting all my trust and hope in Him alone. The Lord continued ministering to me through His Word. He helped me find delight in Him and put new desires in my heart. God’s Word became my high priority.
James 1: 2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (ESV)
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (ESV)
Isaiah 43:2-3 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (ESV)
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV)
Romans 5:3 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)
These and many more Scriptures helped me to reflect on God’s sovereign will and helped me embrace God’s truth and perspective on my life. Even though my circumstances haven’t changed much, God has and is restoring my soul and renewing my mind and faith. I have joy and peace now that I have never had when my life was going well.
I am so thankful that God brought me to this church where many people have encouraged me through prayers, visits, driving me to doctor visits, loving me and carrying my burdens. The Danca family welcomed me into their home when I couldn’t care for myself. I am so grateful to God for meeting me in my adversity and revealing Himself to me through His Word.
I’d like to close with these verses from Habakkuk 3. “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (ESV)