If there's anything I've learned in these 30 something years of life, it is this: life's trials barrel toward you. There is no escape from the troubles of this world. Jesus said it plainly, "In this world, you will have trouble...."
Try as we might to wiggle out from underneath the grasp of all that we fear, given time, we land in the midst of trials we may have even prayed to escape.
You know what comes more relentlessly than the troubles of this world, what seeks us out more than the waves reach for shore? Grace.
John 1:16 For of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
Jesus does not leave us in our hardest moments, no, He is always near. Always working for the good of the one who loves Him, for the good of the one He set apart for His purposes.
Two years ago we lost two tiny cherished babies who never saw the light of the sun. Two separate miscarriages mere months apart. With three healthy young children already, we never saw it coming. When faith collides with the jagged rocks of life, the kind that tear at your soul, one of two things may happen. You press deeper into the Lord revealing stunning faith, or you slip beneath the waves grasping for truth, searching for something solid to stand on.
There is intimacy in the darkness. Unspoken grief leaks from the soul, water falls down the face. Tears come as easily as sunrise and they seem, for a time, as if they might never stop. We are supposed to bless the Lord at all times, but sometimes you open your mouth and all that comes out is a scream, a whimper, a cry, desperation -- Jesus receives that too. He welcomes our brokenness and understands our pain. He became flesh, and to be flesh means to feel the pain of the fall.
Our Savior, who never knew sin, knows our suffering. He knows it best, having experienced it most. A crucified Savior means our Lord enters in to our suffering and brings comfort to the place where we grieve; He was well-acquainted with sorrow. He is the very one that will bring tears to an end, and I am so thankful.
After the second heart stopped beating, I spoke the words, and I meant them: I will bless the Lord at all times. Blessing hides itself within our sorrow. Hidden away there is an intimate knowledge of God that can be scarcely, if at all, attained another way. We cannot imagine all that the Lord is doing within our seasons of pain. We cannot fully grasp how much He loves, how carefully He has thought through every day of our being.
We may not understand, but we can trust. We can trust that even in this dark place, the Lord will bring His light. Even darkness is as light to Him. He will illuminate our path and guide our days. He will lead us in paths of peace, and we will smile again.
I have not the faintest clue what trials the Lord has in His sovereign grace ordained for you to walk through, but I know how to withstand them whatever they may be. What keeps us in seasons of the night is the Sunrise from on high, Jesus and His sustaining Word. If we hide little of His Word in our hearts, we will have little to steady our feet when the ground beneath us inevitably shakes. The memorization of God's Word stirred as a passion in my heart long before two of our own little ones slipped into eternity, and I know that it was the truth of Scripture that sustained me as we cried out to God for help and healing. You might feel too busy to discipline yourself to read God's Word much less memorize it. You might find life seductively easy at present so you don't perceive the need for this kind of pursuit. I beg of you to reconsider. There's so much at stake here.
We memorize Scripture so that we may know Christ, that we might delight ourselves in Him. There is no one on earth worth knowing and enjoying more than Him. Jesus is everything.
We memorize Scripture so that we know the truth in both beautiful and hard times. As the Psalmist put it, "I've hidden your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against God." We put Jesus and the Gospel on display with our lives when choose to do His will above all. We see how we fall short of the glory of God, when we see God's glory on display in Scripture.
God's Word and prayer will sustain you. It is not knowledge, but relationship with us that God is after both when He allows trials to come our way and when He tells us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. He knows in this world we will have trouble and at the same time He tells us "take heart; I have overcome the world."
Take heart. Take courage. He allows the bad in His sovereignty, and He sends the good.
Just a year after our losses, the Lord sent one of His good and perfect gifts to us. Exactly one year after our first miscarriage we learned we were pregnant and exactly one year after our second loss we learned that our new baby was a girl. Words fail to contain the joy that was made ours.
We had two boys already and our little girl had prayed so earnestly for a sister and there she was being formed within me. We named her Anna Kate which means "pure favor and grace." His grace pursues us. His love upends us, and if we will seek Him with all our might, no matter what, we will bring Him glory.
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