He’s in the waiting

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast;

I will sing and make music.” 

-Psalm 57:7

I read (and wrote a lot about) Tim Keller’s book Walking with God Through Pain in Suffering in the last several months of our first infertility journey. One thing among many that always stuck with me was his noting from the Psalms when the psalmist talks to himself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” He says in Psalm 42. Keller writes a lot about the value of this “self-talk” — it’s a skill in counseling yourself out of a real or impending emotional pit. As a Christian you already have a strong foundation of things to self-talk about. You know the truth, even if you slip away from it in despair.

This song calls that idea to mind. “Stay steadfast, my soul!,” cries the singer. And as a voice of experience (who is also fighting the pit with you), I call out with her from the next verse: “He’s in the waiting!” Be strong in this struggle, friend. If you’re wondering where God is in all of this, you have found Him. This is exactly where He is — in this struggle, in this mess, in this pain. He’s right here — in the waiting.

Slow down, take time
Breathe in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage, my heart
Stay steadfast, my soul
He’s in the waiting Continue reading “He’s in the waiting”

The thing about pain

The thing about pain is, it hangs over you. You carry it with you wherever you go. Sometimes it’s right out front. You can’t get out of bed. You can’t talk about anything else. You can’t think about anything else. Nothing can make you smile. You cry without extra cause. It’s just swelling over you and out of you and consuming you, no matter how hard you try (if you can try at all).

And sometimes it’s standing in the background. The awkward guest at a party — everyone sees him standing off to the side, not really doing much, but definitely there. At any silence in the conversation, at some little moment without warning, he shouts something. “Oh, right,” you think, “You’re still here.”

ps147Grief is like that. That permanent loss leaves a permanent pain that just always sort of hangs there. In the beginning everyone sees it, everyone mentions it, everyone tries to help carry it. But later it’s just yours. Sometimes you sort of overlook it — this picture on the wall that’s been there for years that you sometimes don’t even notice is part of the decor anymore. Sometimes it jumps out at you and you realize there was a lion just standing in the corner the whole time, and you kept walking past it. Sometimes it’s so heavy,  but you pretend you’re ignoring it because you don’t want to keep bothering everyone. But it’s heavy and it’s big and it’s weighing you down, and it won’t go away.
And you don’t know the solution. That’s the true worst part. Nothing will really fix it. “Is there anything I can do for you?” People ask. You have no idea. I just want you to know. I just want you to remember a few years from now that I have this weight. I just want you to carry this with me when it’s just there and there’s nothing to be “done”.

And the thing about pain is, until you’ve had your own, you don’t know what this feels like. Why is she still stuck on that? You think. That was years ago. It’s over now. She should be moving on by now. And, maybe worst of all, This isn’t that big of a deal. And then you get your own pain, and you grieve for how unsympathetic you were. You know of others with pain and you just want to walk up and say, “I know you’re dying inside right now! I know this is killing you. I know about the pain. I know.” 

The thing about Christ is, He always knew. He knew about the guy in the corner. He knew about the lion. He knew about the weight. He knew when no one else knew. He cared before anyone else could, and cared when no one did anymore. When you were wondering How can I bear this alone? How will I bear this at all? What will carry me through this? The answer was Christ. The solution when there are no solutions, is to take comfort and peace in Christ, and take it up again every day after.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

Growth is in the suffering, not the joy

“Jesus learned obedience from the things which He suffered, not by the things which he enjoyed.” [p.78]

I have been learning that our spiritual maturity is more likely to come from times of difficulty (momentary things like disagreements with coworkers, as well as big things like grieving a death) than times of ease. I’ve come to see there is a biblical truth to thinking that times of peace and “all is well” are more to be seen as the exception, and times of trial and suffering and needing to believe “all is well” are to be expected as the norm for the Christian life. I need a healthy mind and heart that is ready and expecting bumps in the road and not dreading and cursing them. They are welcomed catalysts for my growth. I need them. My faith is weak without them.

I’ve been sharing quotes from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart. Please share your thoughts! 

The worst pains

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistance on our independence.” [page 51]

This was me, you guys! As those months started adding up and it was becoming clear that we were in the midst of a trial of infertility, I remember crying in agony to my husband, “I don’t want this to be our story!” My heart just kept thinking, No no no no no — this cannot be happening! 

I was so resistant to accept what was happening, it took months to start really growing from it. Looking back, I wish I could appear to myself back then. I can clearly see those times of lying on my bed weeping for the grief and dread of what was going on: we were meeting barrenness. We were not going to be pregnant “on time” (according to our plans, that is). The Lord was going to do something different. I wish I could put my own hand on my shoulder and say, “This is a good story! God is doing good things! Don’t miss it because you’re stubborn about the story you think you want!”

The quote is from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart.

Believe that the night is as useful as the day

From Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning devotional book, for June 1.

“It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, ‘there is no night there.’ What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.

What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset, sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day.”

You can read the whole (short) devotional here. The current print of the book is in more modern English.

Throwback Thursday: You’ll get through this

I wrote this while I was still waiting for my baby, but past the darkest days of our trial. I still mean it, probably now more than ever, and if you need to hear it right now, I sincerely hope it encourages you.

I know some of you are in your darkest hour. I remember what it was like to be in the deepest depths of the pit of despair. I remember walking around my house and spontaneously bursting into tears, even surprising myself with the level of sorrow inside of me. I remember lying in bed, inconsolable and broken, literally crying out to the Lord in my weariest, tear-soaked voice, “Where are You? Where are You?” I remember thinking it was never going to get better.

ps40The Lord has not yet given me a child, but He did answer many of my prayers to make it better. Little by little, He dug me out of the pit and provided the joy and strength I needed. It’s not always totally better, but it’s better than it was.

And in remembering this, I think of so many of you who may be reading this, aching inside, dying inside, lying broken at the bottom of the valley. And you probably don’t need a lesson, a rebuke or even a Bible verse. You just need to be reminded: You’ll get through this. It’ll get better. You can do this. I know it seems unthinkable, relentless, unbearable and hopeless. But you can do this. This is not the end of your journey. There is hope — there is always hope. It’s bad now, but it will not always be like this.

If no one else has told you yet, let me be the first: you’re going to get through this.

You’re in good company. Before His death, Jesus pleaded with God to spare Him from the coming agony. God didn’t. On the cross, I believe, He had His time in the pit, as He was crying out, like you and me, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” But God came through for Him, and He will for you.

joy comes

If you are seeking advice, the best I can say for today is to start praying earnestly that God will give you what you lack inside. For me, it was real strength, joy, peace, and hope. And He will be faithful and give you those things. It may take a few days, weeks, even months. But He will not leave you in this pit. He will come for you.

It’s going to be ok.

Reposted from November 4, 2013.

Throwback Thursday: Half an answer to “Why?”

In a recent Bible study meeting this quote was brought up, and it inspired me to share it again. I cannot recommend Tim Keller’s book enough. It was very helpful for both of us. 

I am currently l.o.v.i.n.g. Tim Keller’s bookWalking with God through Pain and Suffering. […] I’m only in the middle of it, and I already have tons of quotes I’m just dying to share. Here’s one I read last night that really touched my heart. It addresses the question of “why” in trial.

“Yes, we do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that He does not love us. It cannot be that He does not care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering Himself. He understands us, He has been there, and He assures us that He has a plan to eventually wipe away every tear. Someone might say, ‘But that’s only half an answer to the question, ‘Why?” Yes, but it is the half we need.”

Amen and amen!

Reposted from November 12, 2013.

How sweet is His word

honey

I know you shouldn’t really advertise when you’re fasting and such, but I’m kind of excited so I have to share.

For Lent this year I decided to give up sweets and replace them with the sweetness of the Word. To kick it off, I spent time in Psalm 119, soaking in the beautiful verses and searching for some to memorize as I fend off my sweet tooth. In the process, I found some special verses for all of you! So please allow me to share!

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!” 119:25

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word!” 119:28

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 119:37  (I thought of hours of destructive googling time and time spent on forums, etc.)

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” 119:50

“At midnight I rise to praise You, because of Your righteous rules.” 119:62 (I thought of hours of sleepless nights, praying instead of worrying.)

“Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.” 119:76

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.” 119:165

Also, I would love to hear if you are doing anything special during this Lent season, if you don’t mind saying!

Michelle Duggar on the loss of her baby

I’m not sure if this will be encouraging to any of you, but I decided to share it just in case. She talks about how she handled grief when she lost her 20th child, among other things related to that. I know sometimes it can be a blessing to hear someone in a similar situation discuss it. Let me know your thoughts!

If Elisabeth Elliot were writing this blog… (Part 2)

ee7

ee8ee9ee10ee11