Sustaining: The Darkness

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  –Micah 7:8

When I first read this verse during a Bible study, my mind went to the times in my life where bad things happened to me.  How I got through those bad times by relying on God.

But this isn’t exactly what this verse is talking about.  Because the very next verse says:

“Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until his pleads my case and upholds my cause.”

This is about Israel breaking its covenant with God and being exiled.  This is about Israel being the villain and receiving their just desserts.

It makes me think of the traditional villains in Disney movies.  The ones that fall off of cliffs or even exiled like Jafar in Aladdin.  People who make bad choices because they get consumed with selfishness, greed, or pride.

People like me.

No, I don’t think of myself as the villain of anyone’s story, but I am definitely a sinner who has betrayed God and broken promises to him.  I’ve definitely chosen myself before others.  And I’ve embraced the darkness and gotten lost in it.

But the amazing thing is that God’s light can still be found in the darkness.  In fact, the only real thing you can see in the dark is light.

And yes, there will be people who will be quick to condemn, like the enemies mentioned in this verse.   People who value the consequences over compassion.  But something incredible happens when you quiet those voices and look to God from the pits of your own digging.

God saves you.  And God is glorified in the saving. Christ’s blood covers you and redeems you.  And the Spirit moves within you to heal the broken parts and strengthen the weakness.

That is the beauty of this verse.  There isn’t a height too high or a depth too low for God to reach me.  And I am so grateful to a God who never gives up.

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Sustaining: Trust

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  – Psalm 62:8

God honors the people who trust him.  Abraham trusted God enough to travel to unknown places.  David trusted God to defeat a giant.  Mary trusted God enough to carry a baby.

None of these people were perfect.  But they had faith in their relationship with the one who is perfect.

It’s a small reminder to take a deep breath.  No matter the mistakes I make, I can trust that Christ is enough.  And because Christ is enough and I put my faith in him, it makes me enough as well.  I am not called to be perfect.  I am called to trust in the one who is.

Sustaining: A Little Laugh for Today

Last week was heavy, so when I came across this verse that made me chuckle, I felt I had to share.

The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?  – Ecclesiastes 6:11

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that the less I talk, the pickier I am with the words I share, the more meaningful it can be.

So, with that said, have a great weekend!

Comforting: David’s Story

When I lost my first daughter, the story of David and Bathsheba came to my mind.  It’s one of the few actual pregnancy/infant loss stories that came readily to my mind.  There are a lot of infertility stories, but not so much pregnancy loss stories in the Bible.  Of course, this isn’t always the greatest one to think about since this particular pregnancy loss was due to the sins David committed.

But there was something comforting in this story.  It starts after Nathan had revealed that his son was going to die.  In 2 Samuel 12:15-21 it says,

After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

On the seventh day, the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”

David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request, they served him food, and he ate.”

His attendants were confused, and when they asked him about his change in behavior he says,

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept.  I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Even though he was being separated from his child, he knew that it was not forever.  With this week being the anniversary of my second daughter’s passing, this is a wonderful reminder.  My separation from her is not forever.  I will see her and her sister again one day.  And that is what is comforting me this week.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

The day this post goes up will be the two year anniversary of my second daughter’s stillbirth.  It’s the first anniversary to hit since my son’s arrival.  And my mind has been in serious contemplation mode.

It’s strange because right now, I’m watching my son grow before my very eyes.  Every day has been different.  He’s learning so much, interacting so much.  I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if my daughters were here.  What these milestones would have been like.  When would they start to babble?  Would they be standing and rolling and sitting as well as Sam is at this age?  How would Sam’s growth have been affected by having his big sisters around?

This week, I re-read the post that I wrote the day I found out that my daughter had passed away.  The post transported me to that hospital triage room, the silent heart monitors and ultrasound machines, to my stubborn cries out to God.  As I got to the end of all of the encouraging comments, my son (who had been sleeping at this point) woke up with a whimper.  And it felt like I was waking up, too, being pulled back into the present moment.

I love my son, and I’m so grateful for every moment I get to spend with him.  I also love my daughters, and I miss them terribly.  But I am thankful to God for how he has shaped my grief and guided my path these last five years.  Even though I look back to remember, more importantly, I am able to look forward in hope.  Praise be to God.  He is so good.

 

Sustaining: Get Back Up

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.  – Proverbs 24: 16

They rise again.

I like this verse because it doesn’t say that the righteous experience smooth sailing.  There is this idea that when bad things happen, it’s because we are bad people.  But that’s just not so!

But it’s not any of the righteous’s strength that keeps them going, it’s God’s strength.  God raises us back up, props us up when we can’t do it on our own.  He is the one holding us up, our arm limply around his neck as we take the next steps forward.  He is my strength in weakness.  I am so thankful for a God willing to stoop low to raise us up each time we fall.

Sustaining: Keep Going

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  – Isaiah 43:2

My faith has been built and strengthened by God’s love revealed in past situations.  I was reflecting on that this week, how one event led to another, to another, to another.

For example, when I had my first miscarriage, when I got the diagnosis that a miscarriage was inevitable, I sat with God, asking for a miracle.  But if not, that I trusted Him and that I knew He had a bigger plan.  That wasn’t out of the blue.

It was built on the experiences before that.  It was built on the “come to Jesus” conversation I had in my car right before I met Michael.  It was built on being led to a job that I enjoyed for almost 10 years helping other people.  It was built on seeing God in my life when my life felt out of control.

And when I lost my first daughter in stillbirth, the claims that I was stubbornly in love with God and that I would stay faithful no matter what, that was built on all of the things He had done after the first miscarriage.

Reflecting on this verse, I realize that God isn’t saying “if” you pass through the waters, “if” you walk through the fire.  It’s not “if,” it’s “when.”  But when it does happen, He will be there.  And looking back, I’m reminded again and again how His walk with me has strengthened my faith with every step.  Just keep going.