“I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23This is a deeply personal post. I am sharing because, even though I wouldn’t choose these circumstances, this is how the Lord has chosen to work in my life. I try to be honest that living the Christian life, that following Jesus, is not about a life of ease and comfort. Suffering and affliction come to believers and unbelievers alike, in many shapes and forms, and yet with different purposes. In the life of the one who believes in Jesus Christ, suffering and affliction is a tool that God uses to draw His people closer to Himself (Hos. 6:1-3; Heb. 4:15-16), to increase their trust in Him (2 Cor. 1:9), to teach them (Psalm 119:67, 71), to discipline them (Heb. 12:7-11), to allow them to share in Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:8-11; 2 Tim. 1:8), and to allow them to identify with and comfort others (2 Cor. 1:2-7) – to name a few. It is not for punishment. Christ took every ounce of punishment for those who place their trust in Him. And it is not arbitrary or meaningless (2 Cor. 4:16-18). The life and death of Jesus gives meaning to even the most minute and mundane things. God always seems to be a million things at once in our lives, so whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in, they are not pointless.
These are the things that God is reminding me as my husband and I face a painful loss. Death visited us again in January. This time in a way that is harder to understand and express. About a month ago, Daniel and I found out we were pregnant. We were excited (and scared), but so thankful for such a quick answer to prayer. And, suddenly, before we could even begin to wrap our minds around this little gift of life, it was over. At 8 weeks (a week ago today), I miscarried. The talk of painting one of the bedrooms for a nursery, guessing if it would be a boy or girl, and already beginning to care for this tiny addition to our family was all over in an instant.
But God is faithful and He is near. He is not a God who is far away and is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses and sufferings. The Bible says He is close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). In fact, He entered into and identified with our sufferings by sending His Son, Jesus. Jesus was called a Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). He was tempted in every way were are, yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). He knows intimately what we are going through and He has been very near to us, pursuing us through His Word and through His people and surrounding us with His presence.
In fact, God began pursuing my heart and preparing me for this loss in the days leading up to the miscarriage (and the days following). Through songs and Bible reading and the radio and the devotional I am reading, He has been calling me to do one thing: Praise (the one thing that doesn’t come naturally in times like these. No matter what would happen with the baby (because by the time last weekend came, we knew there was something wrong), God was asking me to trust Him and to commit to praise Him. He was asking me to adopt the words of Job as my own. Job lost all his possession, his ten children, his heath, and his status in the blink of an eye. And yet this is how he responded:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:20-21God asked me to do the same. As I was listening to the Shane and Shane song below, God was essentially ask me, “Will you praise me no matter what? Are you willing to worship me even when I take away?” My heart, although trembling, cried out a firm Yes. I choose to trust You, Lord. I choose to remember that Your ways are higher and thoughts are greater, and that You will not withhold from me anything that is good for me.”
I am currently studying through the Psalms, and even there God was beckoning me to praise Him:
“Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord…Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to His name, for it is pleasant.” Psalm 135:1, 3So, with God’s help and strength, that is what Daniel and I have been trying to do. We don’t pretend to understand why we had a miscarriage. We don’t pretend that this isn’t hard or painful, because it is very much so. We don’t pretend we haven’t been tempted to self-pity or bitterness or envy because we have (or, at least, I have). But we do choose to take God at His Word and trust that He is working in such dark circumstances and that He is in control of life and death and that He will work in and through this for our good. And I have no doubt that God will use this loss to make the love and message of Jesus shine brightly in our lives. I have already seen signs of Him doing so.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1