When the Lord Gives and Takes Away
Each Sunday after a corporate reading of Scripture, our church has a brief testimony time. It is a time to spur one another on as we share of the Lord’s faithful work in our lives. Yesterday, I eeked out my own testimony, with tears. So much more can be said, and maybe I’ll have the opportunity to share at some point.
Two weeks ago, I was given an opportunity by the Lord to have several different muscles strengthened. Most of you know that first, my purse was stolen, and then we experienced a miscarriage at 12 weeks.
James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (like when my purse was stolen and when my unborn baby died), for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in NOTHING.
I am really lacking in the natural right now. I have had things taken from me…but I have had so much more given to me by the Lord. Trials and suffering are bittersweet, and since I was 15 and began my life in the Lord with very hard things happening, the sweetness is the part I really seek to lean into. There is a wealth of treasure to be found in this place, and I don’t want to miss it.
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; He holds my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For He will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let his holy one see corruption. He make known to me the path of life; in His presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:5-11
This little life is now in the presence of the Lord, with two other babies we’ve lost, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore! We can and have been rejoicing in this. What greater privilege can I be given than to be entrusted with the stewardship of a precious soul. My job was to lead him or her to the Lord—and that is where this little one is.
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12
To borrow a few words from a beloved older brother, not only is all my affliction momentary, not only is all my affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there, but all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of my pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of my misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory I will get because of that.
It hasn’t been meaningless—my weeks of pregnancy sickness and now ended pregnancy. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course I can’t see what it’s doing. I don’t look to what is seen.
It’s working for me an eternal weight of glory.
Therefore, I/we have not lost heart. I take these truths and day by day focus on them. I preach them to myself every morning, when I glance up at my Bible during school with the kids. In the kitchen fixing meals. I have had to get alone with God, even with kids running around, and preach his word into my mind until my heart has sung with confidence that I am new and cared for.
I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve had to battle anxious thoughts like, “the thought of going through another first trimester is overwhelming,” or, “why didn’t we get an earlier ultrasound, etc…” There have been plenty of tears. But thankfully, what has prevailed has been His ministry to me as I take these thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, leaving them with Him, while declaring His truth to my heart. Having others exhort me and remind me of the truth has been a major source of help.
In addition to His ministry to our hearts of His living and active word, one of the myriad of ways the Lord has so tenderly cared for us has been through the body of Christ, some of whom are here today and others scattered in other churches.
From prayer (which we have felt), phone calls, a midwife and doctor who fiercely love the Lord and believe in His sovereignty, to one driving an hour to bring a meal, another watching our kids when I had surgery, and still yet another staying the whole day with me after surgery, to sweet Rachel Vining taking her desire to understand what happened online to learn about miscarriages and then bringing me my favorite kind of chocolate and helping me make dinner (that really ministered to me). All of these actions have been a huge part of way Lord has tenderly cared for us. Thank you.
So, because of who the Lord is, the well worn path that we have walked with Him in this place before, and how He has sweetly ministered to our hearts, I can worship Him in spirit and truth—with true joy, and I can agree with David that, “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! and that ALL the ways of the Lord are steadfast love and righteousness for those who keep his covenant and testimonies.