He goes with us

“He goes with us through the valley, the deep water, the furnace. He will never, absolutely never, leave us or forsake us.” [page 55]

Obviously, this isn’t her original thought. See:

Isaiah 43:2

 When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.

And

Deuteronomy 36:1

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For theLord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Both verses are from the New Living Translation. The top quote is from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart.

Advertisements

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.

I will walk through the valley if You want me to

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley if You want me to

‘Cause I’m not who I was when I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me and I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness if You want me to

When I cross over Jordan, I’m gonna sing, gonna shout
I’m gonna look into Your eyes and see, You never let me down
So take me on the pathway that will lead me home to You
And I will walk through the valley if You want me to
Yes, I will walk through the valley if You want me to.

If I ever needed You, I need You now

Oh man, it happened again, you guys. I was innocently preparing Easter treats in my kitchen, listening to the new (or new-to-me) Matt Redman CD my husband got me for Easter (Bonus: I was making these! Yum!)… and this amazing song came on and instantly brought me to tears.

I had to share immediately (I know, you’ll read this when Easter is long over, but I swear wrote it immediately.) I’m sure it’ll make you cry, too. I so very much appreciate when an artist can express my emotions so perfectly.

And of course, living in the desert, I even more so appreciate the desert references…

On this thirsty desert ground,
in a dry and barren land,
I bow down
I need You now.

You will call and I will come
To Your river I will run.
I bow down
I need You now.

Oh, living water. Oh, God, my Savior,
If I ever needed You, I need You now.
Oh, living water, Oh, God, my Healer,
If I ever needed You, I need You now.

Here it is for your heart today…

What Job said in the valley

From Job 23

Do you have this confidence in the Lord these days?

 “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,

and backward, but I do not perceive him;

on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;

he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.

But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

I love those verses! What confidence we have — we may not see Him or get what He’s doing, but we can be sure that He sees us, and will use this for our good.

And is your testimony like this, in your darkest moments?

“My foot has held fast to his steps;

I have kept his way and have not turned aside.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”

Earlier is this chapter, Job was imagining how it would be to go face-to-face with God and plead his case. Haven’t we all been there? But by the end of these verses, he is brought back to the reality of who God is and who Job is. Have you lost sight of your place and God’s place?

“But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?

What he desires, that he does.

For he will complete what he appoints for me,

and many such things are in his mind.”

That’s a lot to think about, from just a handful of verses! I’ll leave you those to contemplate today. Please comment with any thoughts. 

job23

Although I am in the wilderness, it is not all briars (Prayer)

Oh my gosh, you guys, how many times do I have to tell you how awesome The Valley of Vision is before you will start reading it? What’s that you say? A million times? Ok, then I’ll keep incessantly posting quotes from it. My pleasure.

Here is one, perfect for trial, specifically barrenness, that will make you burst into tears. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

prayer

Wait in the quietness until light goes up in thy darkness

George MacDonald wrote: 

[God] changes not because thou changest. Nay, He has
an especial tenderness of love towards thee for that
thou art in the dark and hast no light, and His heart is
glad when thou dost arise and say, “I will go to my
Father.” . . . Fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in the
quietness until light goes up in thy darkness. Fold the
arms of thy Faith I say, but not of thy Action: bethink
thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to
do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the prepar­-
ing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feel­-
ings: Do thy work.

I found this quote while reading this precious, short, free e-book: When the Darkness will not Lift by John Piper. 

The Valley of Vision (aka: This will make you cry)

A little while back I was chatting with my husband’s family on the question of the best book we ever read besides the Bible. Agreeing it was hard to really choose one, we all shared about a book that highly impacted us. My mother-in-law mentioned The Valley of Vision, and others concurred that it was really excellent. I made a mental note to read it sometime. A couple weeks later I was randomly gifted a copy, so I took that as a sign that “sometime” is now.

This morning I started reading it — it’s a book of old Puritan prayers. My husband and I decided to read one a day together before bed. I’m not typically a fan of recited prayers, as Jesus warns against praying the same words over and over like the Pharisees do (see Matthew 6). But I appreciate the poetic nature and sentiment of these very biblical, deep prayers, and the value they add to my own praying.

All that to say, the very first one in the book is the one the title comes from, and it made me tear up immediately. It is so perfect for this trial. I called my husband in for a second reading, and he too got teary. We both expressed an interest in maybe framing it to be reminded of its deep truths, which we have been learning in our trial of infertility.

Here it is (go get the tissues!)…

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

valleypic
I found this beautiful drawing someone did using this prayer. Click to see enlarge and visit the artist’s page.

When you pass through the waters I will be with you

For those days when you are desperately wondering where God is in all of this, He says this to His people in Isaiah 43:2…

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Where is He? He’s right there with you.

waters

Book Recommendation – “I Will Carry You” (Miscarriage, Child loss and Stillbirth)

Out of nowhere this book popped into my head this evening and I knew it was perfect for this blog. I haven’t read it, but I have had two different sets of friends recommend it. One couple experienced just about the same story as the couple in this book — they found out at their 5-month ultrasound that their baby had a chromosomal issue that made him “incompatible with life” (cringe, I know — those are the doctors’ words, not mine). She carried full-term, against an abortion recommendation, and he passed away while she was in labor. Later they sent out an e-mail to all of their prayer supporters and mentioned how this book was really encouraging and helpful to them while preparing for that loss.

angiesmithIt stood out to me because we are friends with another couple who has lost two children. One passed away in a car accident as a 9-month-old baby, and after having another healthy child she was pregnant a third time with a baby who passed away in her 8th month for unknown reasons. She delivered soon after. Later she also recommended this book to people in similar circumstances.

So, you may want to read it if you are facing or have faced something similar, or even if you are just struggling with infertility in general but may find comfort or encouragement in her words regarding grief and loss (I was touched by a woman who spoke at my church’s infertility conference on the grief of infertility, as it is at least loss of a dream and a hope, if not more).

It’s called I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith. She is the wife of the lead singer of the band Selah. They produced the song below about the loss of their daughter. Below that, I am including a video of the couple sharing their story.