Written April 7, 2015
Today two years ago I was in labor with my sweet, tender-hearted Baker Samuel. He will be 2 years-old tomorrow. We have not yet worked out just the right way to spend his and Mia's birthday. Two years ago I was in labor with him, and three years ago I was in labor with Mia. "What are you thinking, God??" is what I thought two years ago as Baker held out until just after midnight to be born on April 8th. Tomorrow we will have a joyful party for Baker and Mia, talking about meeting both new babies for the first time. Celebrating both on the same day has been ironic and bittersweet. What is God thinking?
Surprisingly, this year I am excited that the joy might finally be eclipsing the pain. You can understand that I think of my missing daughter daily. She has left a hole in our family.
But is it possible to be sad and excited at the same time? Of course, I still try hard to recall memories of her. I imagine a place and time that I was close to her, and at the same time, try not to bring back scenes of losing her. I still wonder how big she would be now. What kind of personality she would have had? I still wonder if we would have had two more children or if we would have stuck with three as we had intended.
For the first year after her death, most thoughts were of the past. For quite awhile my future felt bleak. Having Baker soon after her death forced me in a very good way to rapidly deal with her loss.
Three years later, though, I feel hopeful.
How can that be, and what has changed?
God has pruned. What has felt chaotic and treacherous has pointed me steadfastly in His direction. He has shown me His love in ways that were important to me. He has given me another son and another daughter. He has increased my love for my husband. He has shown me overwhelming support from friends and the church.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:1-2, 4 ESV)
He has revealed the sufficiency of His grace and has delivered me from the longings I was trying to fill with human comforts. I can trust His help. He has thoroughly proven that to me. I had felt overwhelmed by grief and the many tasks on my plate. Having emotions overloaded with pain has at times left me paralyzed. And yet, I have gone to bed every night and have awoken the next morning with new mercies(Lam.3:22). I know where to find help. And I want to share that with others.
“I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Suffering has tarnished my idols. Why do I want to chase wealth, prestige, or comfort if God will always strengthen me? In my reactions during deep sadness, I saw my sinfulness. I had become ugly at times because I was in pain. I am sensitive and I had a hard time overlooking offenses. I struggled to forgive. And if I was so flawed, I knew I didn't have the answers. The only place I could get reliable answers was in the Bible(Ps. 19).
God gave me a thirst for the Bible. No, Jesus could not be perceived mainly through emotions. Prior to God's pruning, I had felt closeness to God when I was singing worship songs. Some nights I would wake up and wonder, do I really know You as well as I think I do, LORD? I had been holding onto some ideas of God that were false. Being led by emotions without discernment left me discouraged- I needed more.
God opened my eyes to this truth: that the Bible tells us what God wants us to know- everything for life(!) and salvation. The enemy had effectively twisted some deep truths that had sapped my strength. When pain squeezed me into a tight spot, those lies surfaced. Thank God that He showed me His objective truth. He planned friends for me that have helped point me to His Word. Early on, several friends had shown me how to grieve. More recently, other friends have helped me to build up my discernment muscles.
And as my discernment becomes stronger. As my focus on God's truth gets sharper. And as my awareness of my sinfulness and my dependency on God grow, I am hopeful that the next storm that comes will be met with more of God's strength. He is making me stronger. He is cutting away the parts of me that need to go. He will do the same for you if you belong to Him. All honor and glory to His holy name.
|Baker Samuel is two years-old!|
|April 8, 2015|
|Precious Mia with Gavin (this shirt has lasted three boys!)|
|April 8, 2012|
"Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved.
For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows,
Which my lips have uttered And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals, With the sweet aroma of rams; I will offer bulls with goats. Selah
Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me! (Psalms 66:8-20 NKJV)