Trust is what I have been struggling the most with lately. Over and over again I read the words “trust in the Lord your God, lean not on your own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5. I don’t know exactly how many times it is mentioned in the Bible, but I know I come across the word trust almost everyday, and I need to be reminded to take this attitude twice as much. Trust involves risk, and while I think I have surrendered fully to God, somewhere in the back of my mind, it is really frightening to trust him again after being hurt. Is it because I am blaming him? Maybe, without meaning to.
We had our annual “flower drop” a couple weeks back. Every Ground Hog Day since 2013, we memorialize the life of the baby we lost to miscarriage, on the anniversary of the day we found out we were expecting. Only, since the last time we did the flower drop, we have added two flowers for two more losses we incurred this year. It seems too hard to memorialize each child on the day we found out about his/her impending arrival, so we decided to consolidate, and remember them all on the date we had chosen after the first one. We remembered them this year by tossing a lily bud for each (symbolic for what we knew them as) and then a flower, symbolic for what we believe they are now in God’s hands, fully formed children that we will see again someday. I know God is holding my children till I can. I am comforted by these thoughts in Psalm 139:
“11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
My oldest son, who would have been big brother to these three little “buds,” asked what we were doing, and helped us to say a prayer and toss the flowers. We told him that each flower stands for a brother or sister he would have had. He asked why he couldn’t have them now, and we explained they are in heaven with God. He asked why God took them away to which we replied, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He knows what we need, and he has good things planned for us, so we have to trust him when things don’t seem fair.” He really seemed to be ok with the whole idea. My youngest, who will be two next month, helped as well. Seeing the joy on his face when he threw the flowers in, reminded me of just how blessed I am and how much I have to be thankful for.
It is hard to move forward and try again, to be excited, when I know what the outcome could be. Anxiety is a better explanation for how I feel. I am anxious as I try, anxious as I wait to find out, anxious as I wait to see if I can carry the next child. The doctors have given no reasonable explanation for these three losses. They can only suggest I see a specialist “if it happens again.” Thanks, good to know you can’t help me. Luckily I know who can, the one who reminds me to be anxious for nothing, but instead to pray about everything. I was blessed to have some ladies from my Bible study at church lay hands on me and pray for me. I do believe in the power of prayer!
I have many questions. I go back and forth with the knowledge I have as I try to make sense of it all. For example, I know that God does not like to see his precious daughter hurting. I also know that we live in a fallen world, and the result is pain and misery. These things are not out of God’s control, but he did warn us they would happen before the fall. They are not a part of his design, yet he allows them in our lives. I also know the Lord has a plan for each life, he knows the number of our days before we are born. Still, I believe there are some things, or maybe many things, we will never make sense of in this lifetime.
Following God is not going to stop my troubles and make my life wonderful; I’ve learned this first hand. God seems to be the perfect scapegoat when we are trusting him with our lives and things don’t turn out the way we think they should. We blame him for not stopping what we know he could, for not intervening when we think he should have. After all if he is so loving, then what the heck did he just let happen to me? (I’ve tasted that anger and disbelief before.) What tends to be so easy to forget is that hardship and pain will always be there, but with him, under his care, we will get through it. He will lead us: “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths,”Proverbs 3:6.God never promises when you sign up to give your life to Him that your pain is over, or that life is going to be a beautiful walk in a sunshiny park from here on. No, I never found that in the small print. In fact he explicitly promises in John 16:33 that in this world we will have trouble, but we should take heart, because he has overcome the world.
So if God’s not going to answer all my prayers the way I think he should, if he won’t stop bad things from coming my way, then why on earth should I follow him? Why not just be happy, “living it up” and doing whatever my flesh desires? I’ll tell you why, because that life doesn’t fulfill me. Once you have reached the end of yourself, and nothing on this earth is pleasing to you–as Solomon puts it “meaningless, it is all meaningless”– you begin to long for the only one who can fill the emptiness that is looming inside of all of us. I have tasted living water, and bread of life; nothing else can satisfy. Besides, if I’m going to go through hard things in this life, regardless of whether I’m a Christian or not, I sure would rather do it with hope than with hopelessness. I would rather do it with the God of the universe to comfort me, to mold me, to bring me through, and to give me peace, than go it on my own with none of the above. I have felt alone before in misery. I’ve even turned my back on God blaming him for my pain, and the times I chose to do this led to the most depressing and darkest times of my life. But when I was in the pit, he rescued me; he lifted me up. When I was looking for anything else to fill my void, he was there, waiting with arms wide open and a heart full of love. There is no condemnation in him. God doesn’t promise to stop our troubles, but does promise to be with us in them. He promises to lead us out of them, to give us a hope and future, and to use them.
So with this knowledge, why am I not bouncing around in total joy and strength all the time? One word, surrender. It is a constant battle of wills to take on this new and very different mentality. I forget the truth of God and lean on what I know to be true. Learning to not lean on your own understanding is truly a process, thankfully one that does get easier. Of course I have struggled to surrender myself completely to God! What human being hasn’t? But I cling to the knowledge that when life doesn’t make sense to us, he has already made sense of it. It is all for a purpose, and I refuse to be stuck in a bewildered state, forever wondering why so many terrible things have happened to me. I try to live by these words: I am an overcomer. I am more than a conqueror. I am not a victim, I am a victor!
So this is my prayer:
God help me truly surrender all to you. To come to a place in my heart of peace in all circumstances of life, because I know you. Through time in your word, you have revealed your character to me. I stand on your promises now. I trust that with you I can do all things, and apart from you I can do nothing. You give me strength. I will trust in your plan for my life through the good and the bad. I look forward to the hope I have found in you, of a future after this life, one without pain, or sorrow, where my troubles truly will be redeemed, and will trouble me no more.