Tag Archives: God is with us

Clouds

There’s this quote, “Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.” I’ve heard it used in the church to explain where God is during a tragedy. That he’s still shining, present, even though all we see are the dark clouds around us. But I want to challenge that.

What if God isn’t just the sun shining behind the clouds? What if God is in the clouds themselves?

I’m not saying that God creates tragedy in our lives, but he definitely works in those tragedies for our good. When my daughters each passed away, God was preparing communities, relationships, and even my own heart to enter into that tragedy. He worked in those moments, days, and weeks to show his power and presence in my life. He never left my side.

In a recent devotional, it showed how God’s presence in clouds is depicted in both the Old and New Testament. In Exodus, the Israelites were led by a cloud when they left Egypt, and once the tabernacle was built, the cloud remained.

So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Exodus 40:38

In the New Testament, Peter, James and John, along with Jesus, go up the Mount to witness the Transfiguration, and God makes himself known again from a cloud.

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Mark 9:7

Clouds, like tragedy, can be uncertain. Anyone who has driven through thick fog can attest to that. We don’t know exactly when things will become clearer, but knowing that God is within that uncertainty, working in ways too great for me to understand, can bring me a sense of peace and hope. One day, the clouds will part, the fog will lift, and we will see everything as clear as a bright sunny day.

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.

Scars

pexels-photo-26298

When I was three, I was in a car accident.  My dad, mom, baby brother and I were headed either to or from home during the holidays.  My parents told me that a semi truck knocked our car off the road, and it slid down an embankment, turned upside down and spun to a stop.  I still remember waking up to see the seat belts hanging from the ceiling, and a few moments between then and the hospital.  I had been cut over my left eye and received stitches.  I was the only one hurt in the accident, and they could only figure that it was caused by a plastic tape dispenser.

Over the years, people have asked me about that scar.  I have never minded telling the story because it’s such a cool story. God protected us that night.  I never really asked why I was the one with the scar because I’ve always felt lucky to have received it.  This scar means I get to tell the story.

I think we all deal with the question why bad things happen, especially within the Christian faith.  We think that if we live the right way, come from the right family, pray the right prayers, go to the right church, and be involved with the right things, that nothing bad will happen to us.  It’s not something we think consciously, but when something difficult does come our way, we start to search for answers as to what we may have done that caused this awful thing to happen or what we may do to prevent it happening again in the future.

But perhaps one reason we are given our struggles is so that we can tell our story.

In both of my miscarriages, I prayed that God would produce a miracle, that the sonograms would be wrong and the baby might live.  Surely, that kind of miracle could be used to glorify God.  But if we don’t go through the grief, how can we understand those that do?  After my first miscarriage, I understood a whole new world of women who have been silently grieving for decades.  Being open about my grief and loss allowed others to do the same which strengthened me with hope.  Why aren’t we sharing those stories more often?  Why do we think that having it all together is going to reach those who are falling apart?

We need to fall apart.  We need to have lives that aren’t all together.  We have been editing our lives for so long, and it’s pretty scary to live life unedited.  But see, when we edit our life, we are editing God as well.  God isn’t some pretty cross hanging on the wall of an immaculate home.  He’s a lot bigger and more unpredictable than that.  Sometimes I think we forget that our job here on earth is to point to God.  Not in some put together, simple wave in His direction, but in a desperate clinging to His side.

And you will be judged.  By other Christians, by people of the world.  Remember that Christ was judged with how he handled the Sabbath or who he hung out with.  But if we tell our story, share our struggle, really live in the communities God has given us, then I truly believe that God will take care of the rest.   God is going to use your words to reach that person who forgot that they still have value and worth, no matter what they have done or what they are going through.  Because no matter what society says about how we look or what we accomplish, that doesn’t dictate our worth.  Only God does, and He has given us great value.

That’s why I share my story.  This life is hard.  There are so many things on this earth that can wound us, physically and spiritually.  But God’s love can heal those wounds.  And the scars that remain are a reminder that we lived through it and overcame it.  It’s a reminder to share that story with others whose wounds are open, others searching for the healing balm to their pain.  Share the beautiful mess, the imperfect path, and the healing strength of a God that walks with us.