I have a dear friend who was pregnant with a little girl at the same time I was pregnant with H. Around the time I discovered that we had lost a baby but his twin had survived and I was still pregnant, this sweet friend discovered that their daughter was developing with a heart outside of her body and she would not survive the birth. This friend continued to post on her blog as they walked through this terribly painful time of delivering their daughter early only to give her back to Jesus moments later. Reading about their faith and their strength throughout this time was a tremendous encouragement to me.
Shortly after this loss, this friend and I began sending each other messages (she lives overeas) and it helped me so much to know that she knew what this pain, disappointment, and fear felt like. She continues to be a tremendous encouragement to me as she embraces the pain of loosing a child and yet acknowledges the goodness of God and the fullness of joy that He can bring even in times of suffering. She sent me a book recently. Holding Onto Hope, which is a really incredible book for anyone struggling with grief and the difficult wrestling with "Why?" "How?" and "How Long?"
It has been a tremendously helpful book as the Author shares her own story of struggling with loosing children and aligns her own story with the story of Job. I haven't even finished the book yet, and I can feel the bitterness, the anger, the demand for answers continue to give way to hope and peace. I wanted to share some parts from the book that have been really meaningful.
"So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don't want to upset me But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel...In fact, those who shed their tears with me show me we are not alone. It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucket full of sadness and carrying it for me. It is perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me."
"You see, we worship because God is worthy, not necessarily because we 'feel' like it. In the midst of a crisis, if we only do what we feel like doing, we could remain stuck in a cycle of self-pity. But when we worship, we get our eyes off of ourselves and our sorrow or problems. We focus them on god, and this puts our difficulties into proper perspective."
"When trouble comes, we think, 'I don't deserve this!' But wait. What would your life be like if you did get what you really deserve? Were it not for the grace of God, for his mercy, what would your life be like? Think about that for a minute."
"The world tells us to run from suffering, to avoid it at all costs, to cry out to heaven to take it waway. Few of us would choose to suffer. Yet when we know that God has allowed suffering into our lives for a purpose, we can embrace it instead of running from it, and we can seek God in the midst of suffering. Accepting suffering drives us deeper in our devotion."
"The truth is, there is no comfort to be found away from God; at least, there is no lasting, deep, satisfying comfort. Revenge, ritual, retreat - they don't bring any lasting relief from the pain. Only the truth of God's Word, the tenderness of his welcome, the touch of his healing presence bring the kind of comfort we crave. Only his promises of purpose in this life and perfection in the life to come offer us any kind of real hope to hold on to."
"Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness - this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstanes. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken."
I was telling Jeff yesterday as we reflected on 2013 and look towards 2014 that in spite of all of the pain and disappointment of this last year and all the uncertainty of the year ahead of us I can't help but feel hopeful. Not because I hope that we will have a baby (although this is a deep desire), but because I believe that God desires for me to live a life that is full, joyful, abundant, and brings Him glory. Those are promises from Him that I feel him working out in my life as I trust in Him even when the path is dark, it isn't a confidence that He will give me what I want, but rather a confidence in who He is and in His ultimate desire to glorify Himself through my life.
On the hard days I will remind myself that "This is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. for our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18."