I find myself in a very reflective state of mind this morning. On this date three years ago, I was in a hospital room in labor with our 4th child, Elijah. He arrived into this world very quietly. Stillborn. The following photo was taken just before we left his funeral. This was the last time our human bodies were near each other. There simply are no words to describe this pain.
But there IS healing! And placing that sort of pain into the Hands of God has this enormous ripple effect that just keeps reaching into the next stage of our lives...and then the next... I cannot even begin to explain all the blessings we have experienced as we've just TRUSTED Him.
It's the pain in our lives that propels us to really seek, isn't it? Attending the funeral of a child is an event I wouldn't wish on anyone. But, while it's unimaginable and impossible in human terms, it is the very place where I HAD to rely on God fully (what else could I do?). Though it was indescribably painful, it was also the place where I felt God's soothing Hand of healing the most prominent in my life. Many many mornings found me out on the front porch crying in the early hours of the day, but also in that time, I found God to faithful to be "close to the brokenhearted," making His voice crisp and clear in my spirit. I took great joy in Him during that time. There was a dimension of my life that opened up during that hard experience, and it has propelled me forward with faith and purpose. And so it is that JOY and SUFFERING go hand-in-hand.
Sometimes things are just down-right HARD in life. Loved ones pass away, things change, hard decisions have to be made, feet have to be redirected (when they'd much rather stick in a comfortable rut!). We tend to hate the hard things, the disappointments, the pain, the s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, the painful changes, the losses. But aren't those the very things that propel us towards relying more on our Heavenly Father? The hard things, when placed in HIS HANDS are miraculously altered. The disappointments give way to new hope...the pain becomes a springboard for reaching others...the stretching brings on strength and flexibility we've never before had...the changes break us out of stale molds and make us dig deeper and seek Him more earnestly...the losses propel us to again examine "where our treasure is." The hard things bring amazing focus that we tend to lack in the easier times.
So, today as I reflect on Elijah's birthday, I'm feeling amazing peace and joy. His first and last moments of earthly life were inside my womb. I cannot think of a more precious place, and I'm humbled to have been that for him. And I'm absolutely sure that he is now enjoying life fully in paradise. And us...well, we followed through that valley and into His calling on our lives. And we feel that calling constantly realigned and refocused. And He is still teaching us how to follow Him, reminding us always how to distinguish His still quiet voice, and encouraging us to be thankful for the hard times. Remember, joy and suffering very often go hand-in-hand.