Inspirational

Bring the Rain

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Yesterday, my husband and I were looking through boxes trying to put our hands on a very important document. Unfortunately, that document is still M.I.A. right now, but in the process I came across a box of old photos. I’m not sure about you, but I love nostalgia, those walks down memory lane through pictures. Some were taken when we were dating, some from our wedding, and others from when the boys weren’t yet old enough to walk or talk. I might have gotten a little teary-eyed a time or two. What I kept thinking, however, was how much more simple life was then…

Life before the rain came.

If you would have told me when those pictures were taken that our lives would be in the place they are now, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Maybe I would have denied it, or maybe I would have become crippled with fear, not wanting to move forward into a future with a sign flashing, “Pain Up Ahead. Proceed with Caution.”

The truth is, whether we realized it or not, we have been preparing for these storms long before they came crashing in, unannounced. We were preparing for it back when those pictures were taken. Back when life was simple and much more carefree.

There is a passage in Luke that reminds me of this, and you probably are pretty familiar with it yourselves. You might recognize it more from the children’s song. It goes like this:

“The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

And the rain came tumbling down.

Oh, the rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

And the house on the rock stood firm.” 

I’m not patting ourselves on the back by claiming to be wise. What I am saying is that preparation for a storm begins long before it hits. Think about it, you can’t wait until the eye of a hurricane is hovering over your house and then start boarding your windows and collecting batteries, candles, water, and all the essentials to ride out the storm. Those things are done in advance.

Spiritually, it’s how we live in advance that determines how we weather the storm. It’s those early morning times with the Lord over cups and cups of coffee, before the rat race of the day begins. It’s those times of praying, pouring out your heart to the Lord. It’s the times when your prayers seem to bounce right off the ceiling and you wonder if it even matters that you voice them. But you do it anyway. It’s taking your kids to church when you doubt that all the effort just to get there is worth it. It’s loving people who are unloveable. It’s gritting your teeth through tough days, and pushing through while all you can manage to pray is “help!” It’s remaining faithful when you want to give up. It’s telling God everyday, “I trust you.”

Serving Jesus in the daily grind and the mundane. Doing what is right when it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Staying the course when everything is going right and it doesn’t feel like you “need” God as much (LIE!). These are the preparation days for the storms. Deciding to serve the Lord NOW before the storms come.

Those pictures were the simple, day-in, day-out times. Life was good. We didn’t know the pain of losing children. We hadn’t been beaten by tough winds and heavy rain. We hadn’t yet faced all the pain that has come into our lives this past year. But I’m thankful that we’ve been building our house upon the Rock this whole time. The rains have come and beat upon our house, but it’s still standing. We’re not the same people as the ones in those pictures. We’re stronger in many ways, and our desire is to trust God more fully than we ever have,  with hands and arms wide open. With unclinched fists.

There’s a reason God doesn’t show us the bumps, roadblocks, and detours up ahead. He doesn’t give us a forecast of furious storms brewing. We’re simply not strong enough to be entrusted with that knowledge. But He is, and He is calling you to a life of faithfulness now, in the calmness of your life. He’s the one who will carry you through the storm, who will strengthen you in the midst of it, and who will bring you out on the other side, stronger than you were before. Not only that, He can take the wreckage of your storm’s aftermath and paint a beautiful rainbow up against the darkest sky. He can use your storm, and He will use it to bring glory to Himself.

If God has received any glory, attention and honor through our journey so far–if even one person has been pointed to Jesus through our storms- then the pain is worth every second. That’s extremely difficult to say and hasn’t been easy to learn. But if pain is what it takes for people to know Him, then…

Jesus…..bring the rain. 

Broken into Beautiful

Bro•ken|adjective|: violently separated into parts; shattered; damaged or altered; not working properly; interrupted; full of obstacles; disrupted by change.

Beau•ti•ful|adjective|: more lovely, magnificent

For those of you keeping up with this blog, you know that only 10 short months ago we buried our sweet third-born son, Collier, unexpectedly. Our family has felt broken, but God has been faithful to us in every moment since that day. As an added blessing, only three months into this first year of grieving, we discovered we were expecting again.  Not that having a new baby on the way replaced Collier, but it certainly gave us a little extra joy back into our home. We named him Matthew Isaac, which means “gift of God” and “laughter,” something I was certain the Lord had given to us in the midst of this season of loss– a season I sure was hoping was coming to a close.

Then came the phone call that let us know everything was not okay this time around either. Only 14 weeks into the pregnancy, we learned that our little Isaac had Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome. Was that the worst news we could have received? No, but suddenly everything changed as we prepared for life to be different, again. If I’m honest, we were not happy at first, but those feelings quickly vanished. We felt a deep, overwhelming peace from the Lord. We knew He was with us, and we wanted the baby HE wanted us to have. We accepted that this child He had given us might be different than what we were asking for, but that was okay because we trusted Him fully. We became completely engulfed in being parents to such a special little boy, who was proving over and over to live up to his name–a gift of joy, straight from God. Nobody on earth loved him, and all his 21 chromosomes, more than us!! After all, it was just a disability, not another dead heartbeat.

Until it was. On May 1st, my 33rd birthday, life took another drastic turn. My husband and I sat in a doctor’s office as we watched an ultrasound tech desperately try to find our son’s heartbeat, but there wasn’t one. The next day, I delivered and held another lifeless 26 week old baby in my arms that only a week prior had hardly ever stopped moving. I felt all the same feelings I had with Collier sweep back over me. I wept and questioned “why again, Lord?” We both felt the sting of death as we realized how much pain burying not one, but two children, in a 9 month time span brings.

So many tears and questions. My heart was shattered. Our family has been even more broken (even though we know our children are perfectly safe and waiting for us).

BUT GOD…

He’s not about to let our story end there.

If there’s one repeated lesson I keep learning it’s that He does His most important, beautiful work in our times of utter brokenness. When we are at the end of ourselves and have nothing to bring Him but what’s left of our hearts, He shines through.

Just one week ago, He graciously showed me this truth once again, at a time when I really needed Him to speak to me. I was sitting and listening as an adult leader shared the gospel with all the kids at our Vacation Bible School. In her hands was a tiny glow stick. Nothing special, or useful—at least not until it’s broken. As she spoke, it’s like God whispered to me while I held back tears- The light from the glow stick shines most brightly and beautifully only after being broken.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really like that this is how God works sometimes. In fact, I hate it. It hurts, and many times I wish I could throw the covers over my head and hide from it all. But instead, I have to keep choosing to run toward God. As much as it hurts, in my heart I want to keep saying “Lord, if I have to go through this again, please don’t waste it. Please take this messy life and make it beautiful, so that You shine brightly through all the cracks and broken pieces.”

It’s no coincidence that God used the same process with His own Son. At Jesus’ most intense moment of suffering and brokenness, God was most pleased with Him. Only after His body was bruised, broken, and beaten for us was the beautiful work of redemption completed. The pretty part couldn’t happen without the ugly part.

Am I trying to sound super spiritual, put together and with all the answers? No, no, and NO. In fact, these days I’m anything but those things, and I don’t see how multiple losses can turn out good. It doesn’t feel good. This place of submission I’m now resting in has only come after wrestling with God for weeks. And tomorrow, I’ll have to submit to this as His will for me all over again. And again, and again, and again.

All I’m saying is that God (thankfully) happens to specialize in using broken people for His glory. He doesn’t waste pain. He won’t waste my tears, sleepless nights, intense grief. He won’t waste yours either. Thank God that each day He’s taking broken pieces and making them beautiful, again. Thank God that I can fully keep entrusting my life into hands that perfectly redeem. Thank God that our family’s story doesn’t end messy and ugly–one day it will be perfectly beautiful again.

Until that day, I’m going to keep offering myself to Him over and over and over…. and you can pray for me.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

The God of Miracles

My tiny little miracle, Isaac.

(Above: My little Isaac, our tiniest miracle)

Have you ever prayed for a miracle?

Me too.

God is always faithful to answer those prayers, but it’s taken me some time to understand why He doesn’t always deliver like I want Him to at times. Sometimes not at ALL like I ask Him. Maybe even sometimes in ways that seem to be the polar opposite of what I ask.

Recently, I took some time and read through all four of the gospels. When I started, I really just wanted to soak up all I could about the person of Jesus. The way He lived, loved, obeyed, sacrificed…everything. Along the way, my eyes have been specifically drawn to all the miracles Jesus did and the motive behind all of them.

What was the motive? The soul.

Not the physical body.

Not to just say, “Hey, look what I can do!” (Even though He did draw attention and give glory to God.)

Every, single miracle mirrored a deeper, more substantial problem–a problem of the soul.

When Jesus gave the blind their sight, it pointed more toward eyes that are blind to the truth of the gospel. He wasn’t just concerned with vision, but the ability to see and understand The Lord for who He really is. So that they might believe.

When demons were cast out, Jesus demonstrated that He can free our souls from anything that holds us captive and enslaves us. Most importantly, sin. He wants to free the captive soul.

When the sick were healed, it was to bring glory to God and to point the lost world around Him (who were eye witnesses to these miracles) toward salvation. Not to be a downer, but every sick body ever healed still eventually died. That’s because Jesus’ end game is not the physical body, but the soul which will live forever.

Then there were the times He raised the dead to life. These are the ones that get me because this is the exact miracle I prayed for a few months ago when we begged for the miracle of a heart beat. This is the prayer that didn’t get answered like I wanted.

But God…He’s graciously shown me that He did answer that prayer. He did give our son the gift of life, just not here. His tiny life has made a global, eternal impact for the kingdom of God through this blog. Isn’t that ultimately better?

See, when Jesus raised the dead, people put their faith in Him. Their souls were raised from death to life, not just their bodies. Eventually, when those same bodies still experienced physical death, their souls still lived. That miracle is only possible because of Jesus’ work on the cross–the ultimate miracle. Allowing the soul to live eternally is a much greater gift of life than any temporary, physical resurrection on this earth. It doesn’t even compare.

Since I have studied this, I’ve thought back to some other prayers I’ve prayed before. Some miracles I’ve begged for in tears. I’ve realized they were all so short-sighted. Oh they were heart felt, and I wanted them. But the motive was all wrong. They were wanting a temporary fix to an eternal problem. They weren’t focused on the end-game, the soul.

If you ever doubt that God still does miracles, rest assured. He does them every day. Some you might be praying for may seem small and some a bigger deal, but God will always answer your prayer for them. Will the answer look a little different than what you’ve asked for? Maybe. Probably. But He will always answer with the end-game in mind–that you (or someone else) may believe in Him and your soul might be secure in Him.

Amy

Come quickly, Lord Jesus

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

That’s a thought that has crossed my mind more than just a time or two lately.

All the school shootings. Gun law arguments. Threats that are leaving parents afraid to send their kids to school. This person has cancer. That family is going through divorce. Sin has blazed its destructive path everywhere you look.

And on a much more personal scale, I’ve had some pretty difficult days the last month or two. Tough ones. The pain of losing a child is unlike any other that I have experienced, and I’m convinced it will not be matched by anything I may have yet to experience in my lifetime. The reality of the loss is always there, and there isn’t a day that goes by when he’s not thought about.

I’ve come to refer to Collier quite often as my missing piece, because well, that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s like putting a puzzle together only to get almost completely finished and realize you’re missing one piece. The whole picture is there, but without the last piece it’s just not the same.

Yes, the Lord has been completely faithful and nothing but good to me. He has carried me and strengthened me in ways that can only be credited to Him. He is piecing my heart back together bit by bit every day and restoring joy within me. Without Him, I would be a total mess. I am grateful for every single thing He has done in me. But, I am still painfully aware that our family is incomplete and will be that way until everything is made new and right when Christ returns.

So why, Lord, are we still here? Why does He linger? Why, with all of the pain and suffering everywhere, has He not yet fulfilled His promise to return?

Because of what His Word says:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (1 Peter 3:9)

This verse is the answer. He lingers because He’s being patient with you. He doesn’t want to be a part of your life. He wants to be your life. And so He waits for you to make that change and surrender all of you, not part of you.

He waits for your family member. The one who you’ve prayed for over and over and over and over. The one who seems to drift farther away instead of closer to God. He waits because He wants that one who is dear to you to experience real life. He waits because He hears your prayers for them, and He is being patient to answer them.

He waits for your coworker. The one who works beside you everyday and whom you know has zero interest in anything “religious.” After all, churches are full of hypocrites, right? So why would she want anything to do with that? He waits for her to come to true repentance, and He waits for you to tell her how to have it instead of keeping quiet out of fear of rejection.

He waits for the one who is searching every wrong place for purpose. He knows he’s searching, and Who he’s really searching for. And so He waits.

He waits for all the ones who have been hurt by life’s circumstances. It’s those very circumstances that He knows will lead straight to the cross if they’ll follow Him there.

He waits for the trouble-maker kids. He waits for those who are “too far gone.” He waits for criminals, murderers, politicians, atheists, adulterers, liars, and school shooters. He waits for all those who have been written off by society. Because He loves them and Has a plan for them, too.

He waits for everyone who has not yet come to repentance, and everyone means every one (even though there are those who never will).

When I stop and remind myself to think this way, it makes the waiting a little more bearable, the painful days easier to persevere, and my perspective to be more eternity-focused. It helps me live differently.

There’s work still to do. God is still drawing hearts to Him. He’s still transforming us more into His likeness through our trials and suffering. And there are so very many people who still need the good news of the gospel. I love the way Kathie Lee Gifford expressed the urgency to share after the passing of Billy Graham. “If you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you tell everyone you know? There is a malignancy of the soul, and we have the cure. His name is Jesus.” (paraphrased)

So, come quickly Lord Jesus, but keep lingering, too. And help me not to grow weary, but  to keep living with eternity in mind.

Amy

2017: A Year of Renewed Hope

 

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It’s pretty quiet in our house right now. It’s 10:46 pm on Christmas night. My kids have crashed in their beds after a full day of opening presents, playing with their cousin, and stuffing way too much Christmas candy in their mouths. (I’m actually surprised one of them hasn’t wandered into my bedroom, unable to sleep because of a stomach ache!) My husband is dozing off beside me. Everything is silent. Everything except my mind of course, which is racing away and keeping me from sleeping. Anyone else know this struggle?

Tonight, I’ve found myself reflecting back over all that has transpired this year. On January 1, 2017, I remember having hopeful expectations for what the new year might bring. I’m not talking about new year’s resolutions. I don’t make those because I know I won’t keep them! What I’m referring to is an eager expectation, the excitement of thinking how the year might turn out. There’s something about a brand new year, a clean slate, that gives us a glimmer of hope. A hope that things can be different, and maybe an improvement, from the previous year.

However, 2017 turned out to be a pretty tough one for our family. Really, really tough. Three months into the year, we lost my husband’s first cousin to suicide, and the family has wrestled ever since with losing someone irreplaceable and dearly loved in such a traumatic way. I watched his mother that day as she wept over her son, and I thought to myself, “Lord, I hope I never have to know the pain of losing a child.” Little did I know then that just a few months later, I would feel a similar sting as we buried our sweet Collier unexpectedly. Not exactly the kind of year someone hopes for on January 1st, is it? But my mind has been going back to these verses:

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

 There is peace that washes over me when I read these verses cannot be described. I remember the day I read them after Collier passed. I was sitting in my chair reading when God magnified these familiar words on the page for me. Reading them gave me chills and, at the very same time, I felt like a warm blanket had been draped around my shoulders. He knew I needed them that day. He knew we would ALL need them at one time or another. Especially in years like 2017.

We need them to remind us we can still have hope in God’s great love. We simply cannot wrap our minds around the magnitude of His love. According to scripture, it surpasses our knowledge (Eph. 3). His love is so unlike our own. It pursued us, while we were His enemies, and purchased our salvation. It’s a love that refuses to leave us in our mess. No matter how broken, battered, and bruised we are, He is mighty to save!  While He doesn’t promise to shield us from all hurt, He does promise that because of His great love, those painful things will be redeemed by making us more like Him. After all, being molded into His likeness is the goal! Romans 5:3-5 assures us that “we can glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint or put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out on us into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We need to be reminded to hope in God’s faithfulness. The character of God is steadfast. He never changes, nor will He ever be anything other than simply who He is–faithful. What does God’s faithfulness mean for us, in terms of hope? It means that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He will walk through difficult waters with us, but not let them sweep over us (Isaiah 43:2). He will always keep His promises (Hebrews 6:13-15). He is faithful to hear our prayers and deliver us from trouble (Psalm 34:17). In a world where so many things are constantly changing, we can place our hope in the only One who never will.

We can have renewed hope as we wait for Him. I’m not going to lie…If I knew that this life was all there is, I would completely lose all hope. All the pain that life can bring– loss, disappointment, broken relationships, disease, divorce, wayward children, senseless acts of violence—it can be almost too much for our hearts to handle sometimes. However, all hope is not lost. The Bible speaks of a future hope waiting for us. The author of a devotional I have writes, “Biblical hope is more than wishful thinking. There is nothing uncertain about biblical hope. It is certain but not yet realized. We haven’t experienced it yet, but there is no question that it will happen. Hope is like a memory of the future— a God-secured, God-infused, God-glorifying future (Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope).” [Sidenote: Whoever anonymously mailed this book to me, you will never know how much you have ministered to me this year! Thank you a million times!!!]

Thankfully, because of the work Christ did on the cross and through the power of His resurrection, the story doesn’t end here in our broken world! One day, all of our waiting will pay off as the promises of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 become reality. Jesus will return as He said He would, and with a loud voice will command the dead in Christ to rise! I can’t even put into words what that does for my heart as a mother and a believer! Life at that point will only be just beginning. That’s a hope worth clinging to!

Until then, we can hope in Him, our portion. Jesus is enough for us. Period. When our joy and our hope are rooted securely in Him and nowhere else, we do not have to fear what the future might bring. Nothing can shake us when our foundation is secure in Him. Whatever happens, He is strong enough to handle. Every need we have, He can fully satisfy. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).”

Has it been a difficult year? Absolutely. But I’m deeming 2017 as “The Year of Renewed Hope.” Moths and locusts came to destroy (Joel 2:25), “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.”

–Amy

Better, not bitter

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(FYI: This is the one and only tattoo I have ever wanted or will get. But I don’t regret it!)

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to sit down and write. I’ve had so many thoughts swirling around in my mind, but it’s been hard to sort them out to make sense of them all. Not to mention, this time of year is full of things to keep someone busy. Fun things, some of my most favorite things, that leave little room for sitting down quietly with my thoughts.

And, in case you’ve been wondering, the day has finally come. Tomorrow, November 5th, was supposed to be our due date.  There’s a lot of things I could say in reference to this long-awaited day, but I’ll keep it simple. It’s bittersweet. Bitter, because it’s a reminder of what could have been. Sweet, because of what has been gained through loss.

It’s got me thinking back to the events of the past several months. I can still remember exactly how I felt that day, how kind people were, and different comments people said in effort to bring us comfort. Prayers that were offered, meals that were cooked, hugs that were given, and one question that people have continued asking that has blown us away every single time.

How have you been able to face this with such faith? You two are amazing!

No, we are not. But I want to give you our honest, heart-felt response to this question and statement. From the very moment we received our gut-wrenching news, my husband and I had a choice to make. We could get bitter or better. We could shake our fists at God in anger, demanding that He give us an explanation, or we could accept our circumstances and allow Him to turn a mess into a message. We chose the latter, and He has been doing exactly that. Not because we are “amazing people” but because Christ in us is our hope and our joy.

If you read Hebrews 11, you get to take a walk through what modern church people refer to as the “Hall of Faith.” I’ve been doing some reading through this list of spiritual heroes and have come to a few conclusions. Mainly, they weren’t heroes at all. They were ordinary people who allowed God to be their strength and use their weaknesses for His purpose and fame.

There’s Abraham and Sarah. A couple who faced years upon years of infertility, which was a badge of scorn in those days. They trusted God. He gave them a son, and made Abraham the father of many nations. They chose better over bitter.

Then you have Joseph. Sold by his own flesh and blood as a result of jealousy, he became favored by Potiphar and put in charge over much. When his family (who had sold him) needed food during famine, they had to come to come him, swallow their pride, and ask for help. Here’s what he said: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen. 50:20).” He chose better over bitter.

Take Rahab. She was a prostitute and had every opportunity to become bitter after years of being used and abused by men who did not love her. Yet God used her to help His people. She’s included in the lineage of Jesus. (Joshua 2)

In Judges, we find one of my favorites, Gideon. I love his story. I loved teaching it to kids last year at VBS and seeing their faces light up with wonder at what God can do. Long story short, the angel of the Lord appeared to him while he was hiding and called him a mighty warrior. He basically says, I think you’ve got the wrong guy! I guess I love him because he voiced his doubts and questions; it makes me feel better about my own! He had endured, along with his people, years of being oppressed by the Midianite people, a big group of barbaric bullies. He was a little bitter, but he trusted the Lord, and God used him to defeat the entire Midianite people with only 300 men. Thank God He chose not to be bitter anymore! What a powerful testimony his life had a part in! (Judges 6-7)

I could go on and on with other examples from the Bible. But I know a few people personally that I’ve seen make this same choice.

There’s the man we met this week during lunch. He owns a local restaurant and had to leave his country in 1996 because he wasn’t free be a Christian there. He left everything to follow Jesus. Instead of pouting about what he lost, he uses his business now as a ministry. Before we left that day, he placed his hands on my son’s head and prayed that he would grow up to love Jesus, too. Better over bitter.

I think of some of my closest friends. One has taken a life of low self-worth and turned it into a life of reaching out to teenagers just like her. Her house is literally a safe haven for so many kids from broken homes. She is a mother to many who aren’t biologically hers, all because she chose to allow the painful places of her life to minister to others.

I think of another friend who has just taken in a stepson who has a laundry list of physical disabilities. His condition requires constant attention, endless energy, and never-ending unconditional love. And she gives it freely instead of grumbling that her life is just too hard. She could get bitter that she has “no life” (and I’m sure she gets frustrated and exhausted) but she keeps pouring love out on that sweet boy anyway. Better over bitter.

I think of another friend who went through years of wanting another baby and finally had one. She didn’t get bitter, and that child is the biggest ray of sunshine you’ll ever meet. Her smile will brighten anyone’s day.

All these people are just like you and me, the ones from the Bible and my friends. Each one of us faced, at some point, with difficult and overwhelming circumstances that have had every reason to make us turn bitter. Yours may not be the loss of a child like mine is, and I pray it never ever will be. But it might be infertility. Or a child who, after all your effort, decides to go astray and the waiting for him/her to return to God is about to kill you. Maybe it’s illness, or loss of a life-long dream. Maybe it’s loneliness or living with a husband who’s first love is not God and second love is not you.

It could be any number of things, but I can tell you this: it’s not a matter of if you will face something, it’s when. At some point, if you haven’t already, you’ll be faced with the choice to get bitter or better. We all have this same choice everyday. Will you allow life circumstances to cause hardness to build in your heart or let God take what little, messed up offering you have and reshape it into something beautiful? He wants to– I promise.

I pray that the testimony of my life and yours can be the same words as Joseph: what was intended for harm, God used for good and used it to save many. 

Amy

And if not, He is still good

If there is one thing God has given my five year old son, it is a sincere love of music. As an infant, I could put him in the baby swing, press the music button, and he would be perfectly content. Fast forward a few months, and Baby Einstein classical music was the key to an almost instantly happy baby. Since age two, I have listened to him sing and “play guitar” at the top of his lungs almost every single day. His music of choice? Worship music. On any given day, I can find him in his room strumming away and belting out lyrics to the many songs he’s learned from home, the radio, or church. It’s pure, heartfelt praise. The passion he has for music and worship at such a tender, young age makes me a proud mama. But there have been moments I think God has used it to teach me something.


One of those moments happened during the days leading up to Collier’s delivery. That week, on top of overwhelming sadness from his loss, there were so many difficult decisions we were forced to make. Discussing the specifics of his delivery, burial and memorial service were nothing more than brutal reminders of how life had changed so quickly. Add in a roller coaster of hormones and emotions (a roller coaster that I’m still riding), and I was a mess. I remember thinking so many times how unfair it felt to be planning a funeral for my baby, while others I knew were having fun celebrating their pregnancies with baby showers and maternity pictures. Why, I thought, did God choose to take away our child, but allow everyone else to keep theirs?  It seemed as though everywhere I looked, there were more painful reminders that Collier was really gone, and unless God performed a miracle, the circumstance would not change.

That Wednesday afternoon I had just gotten off the phone with my doctor, finalizing details of the delivery, and I was feeling overcome with grief. I tried to pray, but the only prayers I managed to muster were crying out to God “please help us” or “Your will be done.” I’ve learned that asking God’s will to be done in the midst of heartache can be so very,veryhard to pray. What if God’s will is different than what I want to happen? What if He chooses to allow us to walk the road that is more painful? What if He hears my prayer for a miracle, but His answer is still no?And if He chooses to say no, does that mean He is still good? Why would a good God allow something so hurtful to happen to those who have tried to serve Him faithfully our whole lives? It’s not that I believed we were more or less deserving of anyone else. But I have been taught of God’s goodness my whole life, and how He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11). Nothing about this felt good.

Somewhere around this time of praying and questioning, I heard noise coming from our living room. It was the familiar sound of my little boy belting out again with his guitar. Here’s the song he had chosen to sing that day:

You’re a good, good Father

It’s who You are, It’s who You are, It’s who You are

And I’m loved by You

It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways

Perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways to us

My precious boy will never know how grateful I am for him singing that song. At that moment, in his little mind, all he was doing was singing something he heard at church. But God knew what I needed and used the faith of a child to remind me of His character. Looking back, I truly believe that day was when I began to let go and trust Him. I began trusting that He would carry us through whatever was ahead. I began trusting that He had the power to perform a miracle if He wanted. And if not, He was still good.

Because, He is.

He is good because He sent His only Son to pay the penalty for my sin–a costly gift that I did nothing to earn, nor did I deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He is good because He has given me a wonderful, faithful, loving husband. One who over the past 9 years has been my very best friend, my source of laughter, and the one who has held my hand through everything life has thrown our way.

He is good because he has allowed me to carry three children—a privilege many never get to experience at all, and one that I treasure.

He is good because he gave us Collier, even if for just a little while. I heard his heartbeat. I felt him move, and I got the joy of carrying him his whole life. 

He is good because He never changes. He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

He is good because He doesn’t make mistakes. His ways are perfect, even if I can’t see it (Isaiah 55:8-9).

He is good because nothing catches Him by surprise. He is all-knowing. He sees the beginning and the end all at once, and every detail in between (Psalms 139; Isaiah 46:9-10; Luke 12:7). 

He is good because He hears my prayers and He answers them, even when the answers are not the ones I wanted. His answers are always best (Matthew 7:9-11).

He is good because His Word says He is, and I choose to believe truth (John 17:17). The truth that He is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28-39). 

We chose for the song “Good, Good Father” to be sung at Collier’s memorial service. I can’t help but think how perfectly fitting it was. It soothes the ache in my heart to be reminded over and over that His ways are perfect. God knew exactly how long Collier would live, and his brief life had purpose. It mattered. It will always matter.

I’m not sure if you have ever doubted the goodness of God like me. Maybe you look around at all the evil in the world and wonder where is God? Maybe life has crumbled right before your eyes and you don’t see an ounce of goodness anywhere. Maybe you’ve prayed for a miracle that never came. I don’t know what your circumstances feel like, but I do know how badly it hurts to lose someone I cared for deeply.  I want to tell you from experience, He is still good. He truly is a good, good Father.

Jesus, God’s only son, experienced intense grief to the point of sweating drops of blood. He asked, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will (Matt. 26:39).” God heard that prayer. He could have chosen a different way, but He didn’t.  He chose to allow suffering because it ultimately led to good. Our good. As our Father, He works all things together for His glory and our bestinterest. All because of His great love for us. He hears our prayers. He sees our tears. He understands our problems. He knows our pain. And we can trust Him with it all—because He is faithful and He is still good.

-Amy