Tag Archives: faith

Gratitude: Psalms 34

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month. This is a longer psalm, and while there is a lot of gratitude in this one, I want to focus on the first seven verses.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
 I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
 Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

 Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Psalms 34:1-7

I am thankful we have a God who will deliver us from our fears. Fear is not forever. And fear is not a signifier for a lack of faith.

There are so many instances in the Bible of people who were afraid, and yet stepped out in faith even in the midst of their fear. Moses was afraid to go back to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh. He was afraid to even go back to the Jews and tell them that God was going to deliver them. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was afraid when the angel came to tell her that she would be pregnant with the Savior. The angel says “Do not be afraid” because she was troubled. And yet, these two (and so many others) are held up as great models of faith.

This is why I get so upset when I hear someone tell a person who is anxious, who is afraid, of certain circumstances in their life that they should just have faith. Because having faith does not guarantee the outcome we hope for or deter the outcome we fear will come. Faith is not the opposite of fear, they go hand in hand. We can still be afraid of the fire as we walk into it, knowing that God is holding our hand through it. My faith is not dependent on my circumstances, on my comfort. It is dependent on an unchanging God who can take anything this world can throw at me and use it for good, which means anything in this world can be thrown at me.

Christ’s faith did not keep him off that cross. It held him to that cross. He had faith that God was going to overcome, that he was going to defeat death and rise up on that third day. Faith shines a glimmer of the hope of redemption when we are in the darkness of fear.

My faith allows me to sit in the discomfort of fear and sadness. It gives me the strength to sit with others in their own discomfort without trying to will it away with platitudes. And I am so thankful for a God who gives me that strength to keep going, even when I am afraid.

Participate (Genesis 18)

There’s a story in Genesis about Abraham pleading with God over Sodom and Gomorrah, and this verse popped out at me.  Right before God lets Abraham in on his plan for these two cities, he says:

Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?  Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Gen 18:17-19

So, God tells Abraham that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was so grievous that he was going destroy the cities.  Abraham asks God if he would save the city if God could find 50 righteous people.  God agrees, then Abraham goes down to 45, 40, 30, 20, even just 10 people that God would avoid destroying these cities.  God agrees and then leaves.

God brings Abraham alongside him in this plan.  He doesn’t just let him in on the plan, but actually lets him participate in the conversation.  So, what does that mean for us now?

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:7-9

Just like Abraham, we are chosen by God.  And just like Abraham, God wants us to know the plan, and he wants us to be an active participant in that plan, even if that means we ask questions and plead for specific outcomes or knowledge.  We can ask these things in faith because even though God sees the bigger picture and plan, he also hears our whispered prayers and proclamations of longing. 

Abraham knew that the cities were corrupted (as evidenced in Genesis 14 and his conversation with the King of Sodom).  And he knew that God’s plan was bigger and better than he would ever understand.   Today we know our world is broken and full of death and destruction, and we can plead with God all of our struggles and worries.  He not only hears, but he listens and considers and patiently walks through it with us.  How good it is to have a God who is not only in control and knows where this is all going but wants to stand beside us, walking through it with us, every step of the way!

Sustaining: The Lord Prepares

In my readings this week, the verse that hit me was:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Usually, this verse takes on an evangelical slant for me.  That the people I reach out to, the community I serve, were prepared for me and I was prepared for them.

But then I think about my response to my loss.  In the years and decades leading up to that moment of no heartbeat, God had been preparing me.  The faith I exhibited wasn’t because of something I did, something I prepared for.  Who prepares for things like that?  Who knows what is to come?

But God did.  In the conversations with friends going through infertility years before we even thought about having kids.  In the classes that showed a bigger picture of God’s world.  Even in the practice of yoga that reminded me to breathe and take each moment in slowly.  Grief therapy came at the perfect moments.  A therapist who had walked my path before me.  God was preparing it all.

And he’s not done.  Through this journey, he’s preparing me to do good works for others.  To minister to women who are walking this path.  To show compassion to those hurting from the loss in their lives.  To give grace and space to others around me.

He gives purpose to pain.  And I am ever grateful for it.

The Grieving Process

One of the common responses I received from people in our life who have supported and loved us in this experience was “Grieve how you need to grieve.” I’m a pretty blunt person, so I didn’t think this would be a problem. However, it wasn’t the temptation to hide how I was feeling, it was a fear that I wasn’t grieving in the right way. After seeing people in similar situations on forums and talking to well meaning friends and family members, I questioned whether or not I was grieving in a way that was healthy. I wasn’t thinking the same things other women were saying, or doing the same things they were doing. I truly felt I was in some kind of denial.

However, I still miss being pregnant and feeling her move. I think about the might-have-beens especially through these months when I should still be pregnant and what I might have been doing at this point if I still was. But when I look at the whole picture, I see that what has happened has happened. Instead of focusing on my loss, I want to focus more on doing the things I need to do to heal physically and emotionally so that one day I can get pregnant again, and hopefully be able to hold that baby in my arms and watch them grow.

Even though this is how I felt on the inside, I struggled those first two weeks, trying to grieve the way others around me were grieving because I thought that was how to do it the right way. It wasn’t helping, but I was so afraid that the way I wanted to grieve wasn’t going to help me either. So, I talked to my doctor during an emotional check up (which they do at my clinic, and it’s awesome). I sat in the room and just opened up to her about the struggle I had with my grief. Turns out, I wasn’t that abnormal at all. In fact, half of the couples she had encountered dealt with their miscarriages in the same way. It was a completely healthy way to deal with it and move on from it.

The only way you can be unhealthy in your grief is if you aren’t honest about it. If you are angry at God and want to scream and yell, go for it. If you don’t feel angry at God at all, don’t try to force yourself to be. If you need to have a memorial or funeral to say goodbye, do it, but don’t put yourself through that if it doesn’t help you to move on. Just by embracing the way I grieve and being honest about what I need (or don’t need) when I need it (or don’t need it) has truly helped me move through this process, more than trying to grieve in a way that wasn’t natural or helpful to me.

There are different needs for different people, even at different times. That’s part of why grief is so uncomfortable, especially when you are walking through it with someone else. There isn’t really the right word or phrase that makes things better or makes the process faster or slower, and the same thing doesn’t always work all the time. Hugs helped a lot for me, but sometimes it can feel claustrophobic. Having someone to talk to about what has happened helps me process things, but I have also craved a lot of alone time, organizing my thoughts and my home. The best words spoken to me were “This sucks. This road is hard. But we will be with you if you need us,” but sometimes I would much rather just sit in silence with someone.

On a side note, when you sit in silence with someone, it allows God to fill the space between. Ultimately, he is working through them and you in that very moment. Perhaps talking through moments of silence really only drowns out what the Holy Spirit wants you to hear. I have found through this past experience how much comfort and strength I receive from the silence, from the moments when nothing is said at all. And I appreciate the people who are willing to be there with me in that silence.

I know I’m not alone. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we have received. Those who have walked this path before have been willing to walk with us and have given us hope.  You are all arms of strength to me and blessings from God. I am continually reminded that though this is a storm in our life, it is also just a moment in our eternity. I know that this story isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to read the next chapter.