Just days before my husband’s job transitioned our family from Charlotte, NC to Dothan in July 2015, we discovered at 18 weeks gestation that the son I was carrying had a rare neural tube defect known as anencephaly and would not be expected to survive after his birth. We were unprepared for such news and were devastated at the thought of losing this child before really knowing him. We began an uphill climb as we faced the unknown and unfamiliarity of a new town, along with several more months of pregnancy marching toward our son’s birth and passing.
The Lord blessed our family in ways we could never have imagined during this time - in rich new friendships, in the excitement of owning a new home, and in orchestrated connections that served as deep sources of encouragement. But perhaps God’s sweetest gift in these hardest months was in the way He drew our hearts to Him when we felt lost and alone. With empty hearts and eyes filled with tears, the Lord led us to cry at His feet. When we doubted and questioned what was to come and how we would handle the days we faced, God opened His hands in tender compassion. When we truly had nothing left to give and no words to speak in prayer, our Father swept us into His arms and carried us. Through the faith God planted deep within our hearts and in no strength of our own, we found ourselves searching for Him, trusting Him, hoping in Him, day by day. It felt right even when our prayers felt routine and repetitive, or even honest and ugly.
Our precious son, Joshua, was born on November 30, 2015, and, against all statistics and expectations, lived over an hour snuggled tightly in our arms. It was the most beautiful and indescribable hour of our lives, squeezing his tiny hands and feet and kissing his sweet face and ears. We told him over and over how much he is loved and how perfectly God created him. We still cannot believe that Joshua lived long enough to not only meet our daughter but to be touched by every member of our extended family before passing peacefully into the arms of Jesus. The Lord’s grace more than covered us that day. He sent deep JOY in our hearts, and we experienced His goodness in ways we have never understood. He outweighed our fear and overwhelming grief with new LIFE. Not only were we able to celebrate in a new way the physical life of our son and the closeness and closure we felt in being able to know him alive, but we had new energy to tell of the eternal hope we feel as we live our lives without Joshua. As our hearts ache for him daily, the Lord continues to guide us back to Himself. He continues to show us of the joy He brings when we trust in Him, and of His promise to make all things new.
I recently came across Psalm 126:5-6 that says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” How beautiful that in His word God promises that even our tears can be seeds that will grow! Even our doubts and fears and our deepest heartache will be blessed when we bring them to the Lord with honest hearts. What peace it brings to know that it is okay to admit weakness, to not love our circumstances, or even to be angry. As long as those feelings are brought before our Creator in a desire to be heard by Him, they are sown in rich soil and promise to blossom into songs of joy. While faced with marriage struggles, health issues, daily responsibilities of kids, etc., may we as wives, mothers, friends, and family members be steady in prayer with hearts bound to Him, knowing that our faithfulness in the darkness will bring forth new life.
- What keeps you from being honest with God in prayer?
- How may our vulnerability and openness with the Lord allow Him to better prove His power in our weakness?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:3-5.
- What is the end product as we strive to rejoice in our suffering?
- How does this change our perspective of day-to-day life?
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