A friend of mine recently said something that I just loved that is SO TRUE. When we face difficult situations, like this pregnancy with Phoebe, so often we gloss over the heartache with Christian-ese that makes people outside the Christian world want to gag.
Perhaps you’re familiar with some of the following phrases of Christian-speak…
“I am just so blessed”
“Just let go and let God”
and the most overused of them all? This guy…
“God won’t give you more than you can handle!”
(which, by the way, is not true and a huge misinterpretation of what Scripture actually says: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” –1 Corinthians 10:13)
But guess what? Stuff happens in life that really stinks. Not just “pat them on the shoulder” stinks, but “fall-face-first-on-the-ground-and-wail” kind of stinks.
This thing with Phoebe? IT STINKS. I hate it. I hate that we’ve been given a 0% chance of survival for our daughter. I hate that I don’t know which day will be the last day with her. I hate thinking about having to bury her instead of swaddling her and bringing her home.
No parent should have to be faced with losing their child. Ever. Yet it happens EVERY DAY. It happens to very good people and very bad people and every type of person in between.
But I don’t have the right to cling to this like I’m the only one who has ever suffered heartache. I have at least 5 friends who have buried their children. I am one person with FIVE friends whose children have left this earth before their parents. That is just terrible. And it’s not fair and I’m pretty sure that they didn’t feel for a second that “God must’ve thought they were strong to be able to handle it.”
Because they weren’t.
Neither am I.
I hate to think that in my struggle and in how I find encouragement, that some might think I am forging some path of strength and fortitude that says, “I am capable of thriving in these horrible circumstances… LOOK AT ME! BE LIKE ME!” Nope. That is not the case.
I have felt pain so raw and deep that I’ve struggled to breathe. I have woken up at night to a tear-soaked pillowcase after dreaming of holding my girl, fully restored, in my arms. I’ve dreamed of rocking Phoebe as I nurse her to sleep, only to be hit with the realization that after she is born, she’ll never be nourished by me. That’s my reality.
Every single day I wake up and face my Maker and say, “God, I trust You. I am afraid of what that looks like today, but I trust You.”
What else can I do? When I have no control at all over what happens to my girl, what good will it do for me to worry? What good will it do for me to become paralyzed with fear? What can I do to change anything? Nothing.
He already knows the plan He has for her, for me, for my family… for everyone.
He knows what trials He will allow and He knows what fruit they’ll bear, should we allow them to bear fruit. That part I DO have control over.
I have a choice, we all do, over how we deal with our hardships.
“Consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” –James 1:2-4
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” –1 Peter 5:10
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” –James 1:12
I don’t want to be going through all of this, but if I have to do it, I am going to do it as the Bible tells me how to. There’s a reason those verses are in there and it’s not to help us pat ourselves on the back when we’re hurting. It’s because the hurt isn’t the end. There is great joy coming!
Do I feel “happy” about this stuff with Phoebe? No. But happiness isn’t the same thing as joy. Joy is a “settled state of contentment, confidence and hope” which comes from trusting my God and Savior.
I don’t know with any kind of certainty that Phoebe will make it another day or if I’ll get to hold her in my arms while she’s alive, but I do know without a doubt, and I have the hope; the confident expectation, that our girl wasn’t created for nothing. She was created with a purpose, knit together in a broken way so that somehow God could be glorified.
If we take the focus off ourselves for a bit and don’t think in the typical, short-sighted way we as humans often do, we can see that things not going perfectly all the time really CAN bring glory to God. When things are broken and there is no hope, it is inevitable that mankind cries out to God, even those who have expressed disbelief before. HE IS OUR HOPE.
I hate this temporary pain.
But we’ll press on and put our hope, our faith and our confidence in God.
Because this earth? This isn’t it. It doesn’t end here.