Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Something I have been working through recently is the difference between hoping IN something and hoping FOR something. I was introduced to this concept on a podcast. I hope for all kinds of things. I hope for healthy babies. I hope for the chance to raise children who grow up to love the Lord. I hope for a successful business. I hope for my husband and my family members to live long, healthy lives. I hope for the Dodgers to win the World Series at some point. These things would all be wonderful and are dreams of mine (yes, I consider the Dodgers winning the World Series one of my life dreams), but they are not certain… especially if other teams keep cheating us out of World Series wins :)
Tragedy is a breeding ground for fear. On one hand, I have felt numb. I have felt like the worst has happened, so there’s no need to fear anything else. On the other hand, I feel at the brink of what my mind can comprehend and handle (most of the time, I can’t even comprehend what has already happened), and I feel like one more tragedy would kill me and I think to myself, if God would let this happen, why wouldn’t he let more terrible things happen? Why wouldn’t he take my husband? Why wouldn’t he make me lose more babies or let this same thing happen again?
The emotional side of me wants to think “that’s not going to happen, it just can’t.” The logical side of me reminds me that I don’t know the future. I don’t know what will happen to all of these temporary things in my life. In fact, sometimes I feel like so many things are slipping away or I recognize that so many things have the potential to, that nothing feels permanent. It has forced me to really dive in and ask, what is permanent? What is sure? What do I hope IN?
I have spent a lot of time being mad at God. I don’t like admitting that because it’s not very pretty. It didn’t happen right away after we lost JJ, but I have now spent months wrestling with the idea that God was fully capable of saving my son, but he didn’t. He could have supernaturally grown his chest cavity and developed his lungs. God could have made it so that when JJ came out of the womb, he made his presence known with a scream. The doctor even told us that if he came out crying, she would believe that it was a miracle and would be open to a conversation about God. I keep thinking about all of the good that could have come from JJ screaming. So much glory could have been brought to God. But He chose not to. He did not save my son and the reality is, He never said that He would. He did not promise me healthy children or healing for JJ. So what does he promise? What can I cling to and KNOW that He is faithful to fulfil?
I’m working on a blog post of the things people have said and done that have been the most helpful and the most hurtful. It ties in very closely with this post. As a preview, it actually is not helpful when people say to me, “I know God is going to give you healthy children.” That’s not helpful because it is not necessarily true. So here are a few of the promises of God that I have found comforting as I search for what to hold on to.
1. We Will Have Trouble - John 16:33 - God doesn’t promise an easy life. He promises trouble. In some strange way, I have found this comforting as it reminds me that I am living in His will. I am living inside of fulfillment of promises. Suffering can sometimes be a form of discipline, but sometimes it is just because we live in a broken, sinful world. It is comforting to me that my suffering was promised, not something I caused. The verse goes on to remind us who is ultimately in control and has power over the world, which of course, is also comforting.
2. His Presence Is Sure And It Brings Rest - Exodus 33:14 says “The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” This is God reassuring Moses that as He fulfills what God has asked him to do, He will be right there with him. The road and mission God set out for him will be hard and grueling, but he will find rest in God. Scripture can be taken out of context and not every sentence said in the Old Testament is applicable to us today. However, we know from 2 Corinthians 1:20 that the promises of God find their “yes” in Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and we know from Matthew 28 that He promises to be with us always and from Matthew 11 that He will give rest. Even when I don’t feel Him, even when I feel like He has forgotten me, I cling to this promise and know that He is with me and that I can truly rest in Him and in the knowledge that He is sovereign. Another blog for another day is the tangible peace I felt right after JJ went to be with Jesus. I said to Josh in those moments that it was the most at peace I had ever felt in my life. We were walking in the presence of death and God was right there with us. The peace that comes from His presence surpasses all understanding.
3. He Is In Control Of Conception - Yes, He is in control of everything, but what has been comforting to me is that all throughout the bible, God is opening and closing wombs and demonstrating that He is the one who gives life. In Luke 1, an angel is telling Mary that God is going to supernaturally impregnate her with Jesus and then he is telling her of her cousin, Elizabeth’s, pregnancy in her old age and referring to Elizabeth’s pregnancy he said, “for all things are possible with God.” Even pregnancy and healthy births in old age and the seemingly impossible, all things are possible with God and He is in control of conception.
4. He Will Wipe My Tears - Isaiah 25:8 says: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” Again, in Revelation 21, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for that day. The thought of the Lord, himself, wiping the tears from my eyes brings my heart so much relief. On the days where grief is too heavy, I close my eyes and picture the Lord wiping my tears and defeating death and most of the time, the weight is temporarily lifted. The beautiful thing is that when I get there, that weight will be eternally lifted.
There are so many more promises that have brought me peace and comfort and I will share more of them as time goes on. I have started the habit of specifically underlining promises in my bible so that I can easily refer to them when I’m struggling, which is often. This is what I cling to. This is how I resist being overcome by fear. Some days I’m so overwhelmed with grief and I need to have tangible Truths to cling to.
I was reading in the bible recently in the old testament and the story mentioned that there was rain in the land. It got me thinking. Can you imagine the first rain after the flood? When that first drop fell, can you imagine the fear felt by those people who had survived the flood, but had seen the utter devastation? I imagine them with a similar feeling to what I have now, clinging to God’s promises amidst the uncertainty of the immediate future. They had a promise of no more floods that would destroy the Earth. I do not have the promise of no more lost babies, but I do have many other promises that give me an anchor when the storms seem too rough. Do you have specific promises of God that have been helpful to you in times of crisis?