Monday, January 12, 2015

Set In Stone

With the way life can change so suddenly it seems plausible that those who have lived a while could lose their idealistic view of life, becoming cynical or even fearful of the future.

For most of my life I've taken literally the words of Jesus when he said;

 John 14:13-14
"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

My faith in the name and power of Jesus has carried me through many things that otherwise could have destroyed me.  When I first believed, when faced with something difficult, it came naturally to ask Him to intervene and I wouldn't even hesitate.  The peace and comfort and trust I had in Jesus was immeasurable.  Then someone claiming to speak for God "re-instructed" me about His nature and willingness to make good on that promise in John 14.  I was never a bible scholar in my youth or my teens.  So, when this person bestowed upon me his ideas regarding John 14:13-14, I honestly didn't know what to think.  The end result of this person's "wisdom" was to plant the tiniest seed of doubt within my heart.  But still, my lifetime habit of asking with faith continued unhindered and unquestioned well into my late twenties.

It wasn't until I was married and became pregnant with my first child that the seed of doubt that was planted in my heart so long before was given opportunity to grow...and it grew quickly.  After a very painful and trying pregnancy, my first little one died within my womb.  The pain of never being able to hold that little one was almost unbearable at times.  There were hurdles in my grief that I had never known I would have to endure.  Things that seem like they should be simple enough were not simple at all.  For instance, packing away baby items and finding a "new home" for them was devastating.  Paying remaining hospital bills and things like that were tormenting reminders of what had happened.

Losing a child in miscarriage is a very difficult thing, especially in a society that devalues the life of an unborn child.  It's almost as if people don't really consider it a death at all, but rather, categorize the loss as one of a lesser pain when compared to the death of a "real" child someone had the privilege to hold.  The comments people would make, and their pathetic attempts to offer their  condolences was astounding.  Two of the worst comments were, "Well, you baptized the baby, right?" (as if you don't baptize your baby it would go to Hell) and, "Oh well, you can always have another one" (as if this one didn't count).  These and many other comments added to my pain in ways that are very hard to explain, and even more difficult to understand unless, of course, you've experienced this kind of loss.  But the most painful and unbelievably dismissive comment came from my ER doctor who dismissed our tears and callously tried to tell us that what we had just endured was not the death or loss of a baby.  The pathologist, however, was a Christian man who lovingly affirmed the humanity and worth of the life that we mourned.  That meant a great deal to us.                

Even though it seemed like an eternity before I could conceive again (which brought about a whole different kind of grief), Paul and I were blessed with two beautiful girls.  But then the unthinkable happened again.  God allowed me to lose my fourth baby too.  That loss became the cathartic situation that brought to the surface the doubt in my heart that God would make good on His promise.  My question at the time was, "How could God allow me to grieve so deeply again?".  It was as though I had dealt with my first loss by subconsciously considering it my "payment of dues"...that life is pain and that we all must suffer in some way or another, as if it was my moment of extreme pain and loss that God was going to allow me to go through in order for me to "really know" what it was like to "need" Him and trust Him.  And I did desperately need Him, no doubt about it.  But, with the loss of our fourth little one, my faith in the words of Jesus were really shaken.  Maybe that is too plain of a way to put it.  Maybe it was more that my faith in my understanding of His words was shaken.  Either way, I no longer believed that I could ask for anything and have it given.  Because I had asked for the life of my babies and their deaths were evidence to the contrary.

God had tested the limits of my faith and it was found severely lacking.  I cried harder and became angrier than I did with the loss of my first baby.  Not because I valued one child over the other, but because of my failed expectations.  But here I was, spiraling with grief again, and there was hardly a soul who seemed to be able to identify with me and give a comforting word.  And the most devastating loss was my faith in God's goodness and intentions toward me.  My idealism was finally shattered, and it seemed unredeemable.

Through the years, and a total of five miscarriages and seven live births, I have come to the Only Place of Rest.  In my unknowing, in my searching, in my pain and my confusion God has held me.  He has seen me through the doubt and brought me to a place of understanding.  Even when I do not understand what He is doing in allowing pain, I can trust that it is His goodness that is supreme.  It is superior to my own desire to love and hold my babies.  That means I had to realize that even my motherly love was inferior to God's will.  That was a very big and humbling pill to swallow.  I mean, what is more pure and powerful than a mother's love?  I'm here to tell you that it is God's Love.  It is unmovable, unshakeable, unwavering, never failing, unending, unquestionable, un-reproachable and limitless.  Jesus is that Love.  And it is in the name of Love that God hears and speaks to His children.      

In His mercy, God allowed me to see that my faith, though shaken by the words of a man, is not rooted in something movable and fallible.  My faith is set in the stone of God's eternal and True Love.  His word and His integrity are not subject to man's qualifications and certainly not man's limitations.

Somewhere in between the pain of my grief and the promise He gave in John 14, is a truth that harmonizes the two.  What I know is that Mercy is central to my pleas.  And though I ask for my babies, maybe Mercy was the answer that my heart was really seeking.  Maybe He took my babies early to spare them or Paul and I a hardship that was more than we could bear.  Once I came back to God and simple childlike trust in His goodness, asking in the name of Jesus was no longer a stumbling block.   

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