• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene

story pain write+

 

My oldest daughter, Katie, just left for Africa to serve the Lord overseas for almost a year.

Seven years ago, serving Jesus would have been unthinkable to her. Seven years ago, God wasn’t real to her any more. Seven years ago, she almost walked away from faith.

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday that her church commissioned her, the sermon was on Joseph. The pastor said, “Don’t be so focused on what God has taken from you that you can’t see or believe that God will do something through you.”

Those words hit me hard. He went on to quote from Paul Miller’s powerful book, A Praying Life, “When confronted with suffering that won’t go away or with even a minor problem, we instinctively focus on what is missing…not on the Master’s hand. Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it’s just that you’re in the middle of a story.”

Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it’s just that you’re in the middle of a story.

That one sentence kept coming back to me throughout the sermon. It’s so easy to focus on what is missing and not on God’s hand when you’re in the middle of a story. When every day feels like an insurmountable struggle, and the details of the present are all-consuming, it’s impossible to imagine anything else is happening.

Seven years ago, we were in an excruciating part of the story. It felt like an unending nightmare. In fact, it was probably the hardest year of my life.

In the middle, all I could see was what had gone wrong. What God had taken from me. What seemed irredeemable and broken. I felt that I had lost everything. And I didn’t believe that God would do anything through me or through my circumstances. My husband had left, my kids were a mess, and my body was failing. How could anything good ever come out of unimaginable pain?

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  • October 11, 2017 - 5:32 pm

    Lisa - Thank you Vaneetha. I love Paul Miller’s book. Funny how, when we’re right in the middle of one of God’s most suspenseful chapters, we want to rewrite the story, instead of sitting firmly on the edge of our seats looking expectantly to Him. Usually it is in His silence(and ours) that we can see Him most at work. May He help our unbelief!ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 4:08 pm

      Vaneetha - Totally agree Lisa! I so want to rewrite so many chapters in the story long before I know why they are even there!ReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2017 - 7:44 pm

    Deborah Peel - Very helpful Vaneetha, confirming my current lesson which in God’s good grace is coming at me from various directions 🙂ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 4:06 pm

      Vaneetha - Love it when there’s an echo to what I’m hearing from the Lord…ReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2017 - 11:26 pm

    Diane - Thank you, Vaneetha. This ministered to me in a very meaningful way.ReplyCancel

  • October 12, 2017 - 7:47 am

    Cindy Brown - All of the above. Trusting Him in the middle, when whining and anger and being petulant come so naturally to me, I am grateful for His lovingkindness and gentle conviction. He is faithful to forgive!
    Thank you Vaneetha!ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 2:37 pm

      Vaneetha - I too “am grateful for His lovingkindness and gentle conviction.” Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • October 12, 2017 - 9:27 am

    Roger Price - Dear Vaneetha: each time you put pen to paper, you enlarge my apprehension and appreciation for the glory of God. You address suffering and victory like few writers I have encountered. Bless you my dear friend in Christ! RogerReplyCancel

  • October 12, 2017 - 10:04 am

    E Coughlin - Thank you for sharing your story. It’s an encouragement to me. Both of my daughters have walked away from God. They’ve both bought into the lies the world tells them. I used to ask myself where I went wrong while watching other families around me with kids who love the Lord. I thought I did all the right things when they were growing up but apparently, I didn’t. I don’t know what God is doing by allowing this but two things I do know- He loves me and I can trust Him.ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 2:35 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing. I’m so sorry about your daughters current attitude towards faith but please don’t blame yourself. Reading “I thought I did all the right things when they were growing up but apparently, I didn’t” made me want to encourage you that you are not your daughters’ saviors. Jesus is. He doesn’t need us to do it perfectly or even well to save our children. He calls us to be faithful, yet the outcome doesn’t depend on us. Praying that you would feel God’s love as you watch and wait for Him- and remember your beautiful words: “…two things I do know- He loves me and I can trust Him.”ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2017 - 12:54 am

    Spring - Thank you for this heartfelt encouragment. Paul Miller’s book brought me from a very dark place. It is good to remember that God is doing so much that we can’t see.ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 12:31 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing. Totally agree that “it is good to remember that God is doing so much that we can’t see.” I need to remind myself of that daily.ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2017 - 8:53 pm

    Michelle - Dear Vaneetha, Your words speak to me as I sit here in the hospital with my daughter. She has one more chemotherapy next week. It has been the hardest year of our lives and I was telling my dear friend today that the life we have lived this last year and will continue to live for years to come is one that I never would have imagined. It is a life I wish I could rewrite. My mother, my daughter, and I were all diagnosed with cancer this past year. Both my daughter and I will have scans every three months: she for the next five years, me for the rest of my days. When I struggle to find peace in the middle of this hard thing, I preach truth to my heart and mind and cling to my Jesus. I look for His grace to meet us at each moment. Please know that your tears and suffering are being used by our gracious Father to point us to the One who gives us life eternal. I love you, my friend. Thank you for your faithful service.ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 12:29 pm

      Vaneetha - Oh thank you Michelle for your words. Praying for your precious family as I write this, for healing, for peace, for a sense of his presence. Love this: “I preach truth to my heart and mind and cling to my Jesus”- praying that you would continue to do this as you sit in the middle of your story.ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2017 - 11:39 pm

    Sami - I just finished crying out to God…asking Him for help…because my story has been so painful this last year and I have lost hope. Your words were His answer to my plea…ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 12:25 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful that the Lord gave you hope today. He hears you. And his silence is not his absence…ReplyCancel

  • October 14, 2017 - 2:02 am

    Emily J. M. - “We are in the middle of our story” – this really is a promise to cling onto. It reminds me of Psalm 63:11 – God is Powerful and He is Good… and sometimes that’s all I know – but it is enough that I can know for certain that the ending will be Perfect. So happy for this ‘plot twist’ in your daughter’s story 🙂ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 12:24 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Emily. Love this “God is Powerful and He is Good… and sometimes that’s all I know…”ReplyCancel

  • October 14, 2017 - 6:01 pm

    Suzanne - Thanks for the encouragement of this testimony, Vaneetha. As a mom also in the middle of the story, I continue to pray for the salvation of my daughter and sons.ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2017 - 9:57 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad this was encouraging, Suzanne. Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2017 - 9:42 am

    Chris Bennett - Thank you so much Vaneetha for your encouragement. I so look forward to your blogs. Your precious sister gave me your book, how I love it. It has touched my heart and helped me in so many ways. I to have unsaved family and broken lives, and there are times thar I don’t see the Holy Spirit working, but I know He is. Then, sometimes when I least expect it, there is a glimpse of hope. One thing I have learn is: I can only pray my heart out and trust that if the Lord saved me He can save anyone and through it all I’m learning to trust Him more even though I don’t always do it well. I truly believe that our God is Sovereign, in control, that He has a plan for my family and I and He will saved my family. He has become my Everything. Again, thank you so much. You are such a blessing.ReplyCancel

    • October 16, 2017 - 1:17 pm

      Vaneetha - Oh Chris, thank you for writing. Its comforting to know that we can trust God with all of our fears and that he has a good plan for our life.ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2017 - 9:30 pm

    Pam & Mark Helms - Vaneetha,
    Thank you for the truth you spoke in how we all have things going on in our lives where we need to trust the Lord in the middle. During this past year, it has been a gift to see the Katie I (Mark) knew in her younger years! We look forward to hearing updates! Mark & PamReplyCancel

    • October 18, 2017 - 11:49 am

      Vaneetha - Thanks so much for writing! I love it when the Lord encourages us when we are yet in the middle of our story, so we can be refreshed along the way. So grateful for all you do, Mark.ReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2017 - 10:45 am

    JSG - I needed this so very much today. I’ve endured a 7 year separation from my husband due to adultery. I felt God promised he would restore my marriage & even confirmed it through verses and many other ways. He did come home 5 years ago but more damaged than when he left. He hasn’t attended church in 12 years but started going a few months ago. He plays on his phone during the message and seems very disinterested. It’s so very hard to keep showing him unconditional love, keep the roots of bitterness out of my heart and keep believing that God will keep his promise and truly bring restoration to this destroyed marriage. The book of Job has been a lifesaver so many times over the past 12 years. A friend always says she wants to tell Job in the middle of Chapter 17 – “Hang in there Job! I’ve read the end of the story and it turns out really, really well.” This blog post reminded me of that today. I just have to keep my eyes focused on the One who is able to do the impossible.ReplyCancel

    • October 18, 2017 - 11:50 am

      Vaneetha - I’m so sorry about the heartaches in your marriage. Praying as I write this that you’d have strength as you walk through this long and difficult chapter of your story…ReplyCancel

  • October 18, 2017 - 11:39 am

    Kathy Vaughan - I don’t have much time for blogs, but I do follow yours. I appreciate how real you are, and how you share about finding God in your suffering. I am a missionary serving in Uganda. I am wondering where your daughter will be serving.ReplyCancel

    • October 18, 2017 - 11:56 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Kathy. So glad the blog has been helpful! And my daughter is serving in West Africa, in Senegal.ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2017 - 8:55 am

    Clint - Your writing just manifested itself this morning amidst despairs that have seemed innumerable and unconquerable. But your God-inspired wisdom showed through the nimbus clouds like a rainbow of Christ’s Light and I am renewed knowing that I am somewhere in progress, and not defeated. The Lord is so perfectly timely with giftly reminders amidst our enduring patience that seems unbearable. May you be blessed for reminding us all that indeed things of the Spirit are always operating despite appearances to the contrary and for your reminder to recommit to having patience in The Lord, along with feeling the everlasting arms of His peace.ReplyCancel

    • October 24, 2017 - 6:24 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing, Clint. So thankful the Lord used this to encourage you. I’m ever glad that “things of the Spirit are always operating despite appearances to the contrary!”ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2017 - 12:06 pm

    Iza - I’m now in the middle of the crisis and see no light in the tunnel… It’s been 30 years of my difficult marriage to an abusive unbeliever in the meantime watching my children grow lukewarm to faith…
    Would you pray for me because I’ve been crying to God for the last 20 years and things still seem morose….ReplyCancel

    • October 24, 2017 - 6:21 pm

      Vaneetha - Praying now, Iza. Praying you will sense God’s love and presence as he holds you in the middle of your story. And that he will do what seems impossible to you right now.ReplyCancel

      • October 25, 2017 - 9:45 am

        Iza - Thank you so much, Vaneetha. I’ve been reading your articles for several years on Desiring God and I feel that you’re very close to me…
        I’m really moved that somebody like you is praying for me 🙂
        God bless you!ReplyCancel

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provide need+

 

We just moved.

Our beautiful new home was carefully designed to be wheelchair accessible. Every detail was considered. Every decision thoroughly researched.

As I look around, I know I should be overflowing with gratitude at God’s provision. But to my shame, I am not.

I don’t want a wheelchair accessible house. I don’t want a wheelchair. I don’t want the life God is putting before me, even though he is graciously showing me how he will provide.

This isn’t the kind of provision I want. I want healing and wholeness. A body that doesn’t tire easily and the ability to do whatever I choose. I want freedom and independence. But God has something else in mind.

While I continue to pray for a miracle, God is calling me to plan with the information I have. And so building the house was bittersweet, as I had to anticipate the worst. What would I need in the future? What could I do? What potential weaknesses should I account for?

One thing I hadn’t accounted for was how emotionally difficult moving would be. I couldn’t pack a single box by myself and I couldn’t unpack anything either. This meant I needed to rely on friends to help me. To take things out of the boxes. To figure out where they went in the new house. To organize my belongings so that I could use them.

I was so grateful for the help, for my friends who sacrificially came over to serve me. It was a huge gift, from God and from them. At the same time, I often cried when they left because I so wanted to do things myself. I wanted to organize my own kitchen and closets, figuring out what worked best for me.

I was also ashamed to have others see how disorganized I was in some areas – the things that I held on to, the little mementos that I kept. They may have wondered why I have five long-sleeved white shirts (a fashion staple), or six boxes of storage bags (they were a bargain), or a can of bug spray in every room (doesn’t everyone have that?)

I wanted to present my best self, but as people packed and unpacked every single thing in my life, I had no secrets. There was not a single box that I could say, “leave that. I’ll do it myself.” My life was laid bare.

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  • September 28, 2017 - 5:49 pm

    Lisa Appelo - Vaneetha, you had me at the title. But this part is really sticking with me: “This isn’t the kind of provision I want.” That’s it, isn’t it? I don’t want God to meet my needs; I want Him to meet my wants. Every bit is a chiseling. I’m grateful for your reminder today that God is always abundantly faithful.ReplyCancel

    • September 28, 2017 - 6:55 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing! I totally agree with you, Lisa. I’m preoccupied with my wants- but in my mind they have become needs! God is working on me…ReplyCancel

  • September 28, 2017 - 5:49 pm

    Emily J. M. - I can only imagine how hard it must be. I have not suffered physically myself but have watched and am watching those I love do so – and often I want to ask – how much more will you take away Lord? But for everything he takes away he becomes enough… enough for my fear and pride. Thankyoufor sharing. I think coupling specific verses with specific fears as you did is helpful and something I should do more 🙂ReplyCancel

    • September 28, 2017 - 6:57 pm

      Vaneetha - Yes this- “But for everything he takes away he becomes enough…” A lesson that is only learned as we walk through it. So glad this was helpful- tying in specific verses always helps me to really “get it.”ReplyCancel

  • September 28, 2017 - 7:48 pm

    Carolyn Daily - Beautiful ! Thank you for shariing your struggle and fears so truthfully! I am battling with Parkinson’s and it’s not what I want . I don’t want to have to depend on others , I want to help them ! It was a blessing and encouragement I so needed to read .ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:48 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing, Carolyn. I’m so sorry for what you’re dealing with – but I can so relate to your feelings “I don’t want to have to depend on others, I want to help them!” Praying that all of us will find that when we are weak, we are strong in Him.ReplyCancel

  • September 28, 2017 - 8:19 pm

    Jill - I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty because I feel a lot of these things and think much the same about my life “right now.” I also want Him to meet my “wants” and often repent for not being content with His provisions, protection, etc. It’s quite hard when you feel much has been stolen from you and you don’t know if it will ever be restored in this life.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:50 pm

      Vaneetha - I so understand desiring God to meet my “wants.” Praying that all of us will learn, like Paul, the secret to being content in all circumstances. Its a challenge!ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 10:15 am

    Margot Starbuck - So honest and beautiful. Thank you for this.ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 10:54 am

    John B - I understand your frustration though I don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Circumstances in your life have changed more than once but one thing has remained constant – your ability to help others. This post speaks to and is helpful to things in my life right now so thank you.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:51 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad this post was helpful, John. Thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 12:19 pm

    Cindy Brown - Another lovely and very timely post. Because of being abandoned by my now-ex-husband, the fear of financial ruin is an unwelcome companion and has been for over four years. The Lord has proven Himself time and time again to be my most perfect Provider and yet I stumble and fall at every new attack by from my ex and his attorney. As if the Lord will ever forsake me. I am ashamed at the jezebel of unbelief in my life. Vaneetha, please know that you are a blessing to me.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:53 pm

      Vaneetha - Its amazing how quickly we doubt, isn’t it? Like you,”The Lord has proven Himself time and time again to be my most perfect Provider and yet I stumble and fall at every new attack…” I’m so thankful the Lord is ever patient with us!ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 1:10 pm

    Trudy - I’m so sorry your health keeps deteriorating, Vaneetha. I pray God will give you daily strength and peace. I can’t begin to understand the struggles you have. I do understand that “I don’t want it this way” struggle as I deal with chronic illness and its limitations and past abuse memory triggers and resulting fears. That Philemon verse has often grounded me – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” He knows what I NEED better than I do, and His ways are higher than mine. Thank you for this timely reminder, for honestly sharing struggles that make us feel less alone, and for passing on the same comfort God has given you. Love and hugs!ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:55 pm

      Vaneetha - Love this: “He knows what I NEED better than I do, and His ways are higher than mine.” So agree, Trudy. Thanks for writing.ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 1:13 pm

    Jeannine - I don’t have a website but I would love to able to read these blogs.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:45 pm

      Vaneetha - You can go to my website at danceintherain.com and follow the link to subscribe and they will go into your email inbox.ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2017 - 10:50 pm

    Mike R - Thank you, Vaneetha. This came just when I needed it. Your thoughts were exactly what I have been struggling with recently. I don’t like this disability. I’m tired of being tired. And I constantly wonder how I will get by. It is very humbling to have to invite people into my cluttered and confused life as I seek their help.

    Your answers are the ones they should be. Your article was a bit like a psalm–crying out to God and then recognizing his great provision.

    My wife and I had to make a trip to our old property in the mountains to turn off the water for the winter. It was a place where I used to spend half of my life, earning money, working in the open air and able to do the physical things that are necessary. I struggle to do just a few hours of activities. I was surrounded by things that must be repaired, and I cannot repair them. The place is falling apart.

    When we were driving back my wife, who is also limited by health, was in a bright mood. She shared with my that she had been praying while I worked. It occurred to her how wonderfully God had blessed us with a day in the mountains in the clean air. And how blessed we were to have the opportunity, as God clearly was caring for us.

    Of course, I was a stricken by our different attitudes. I was limping and hardly able to move. She was grateful and thanking God. Needless to say, I was appropriately rebuked and encouraged to see the truth of God’s love for his own.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:56 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks again for writing, Mike. I can so relate to what you said!ReplyCancel

  • September 30, 2017 - 12:14 am

    Jann C - How timely this was! I, too, suffer from post-polio and am losing ground with a deteriorating spine and joints and strength. I’ve been blessed for many years able to do as I wanted pretty much and able to walk unaided, but things have changed greatly in the last few years. I’m trying to live in trust as I look for a new place to live that is more ADA complaint in the apartment realm, but choices have been limited or too $$$. Your article parallels my experience closely. Thanks for being so transparent and willing to share—it was an encouragement to me today! May we know our Savior in more intimate relationship as we continue this life’s journey.ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 12:59 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad this was encouraging, Jann. This is my prayer too: “May we know our Savior in more intimate relationship as we continue this life’s journey.” Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • September 30, 2017 - 8:53 am

    Mavis Melton - Thank you again for your raw honesty and how you help bring people to freedom in Jesus Christ and the Word of truth through it! Your writing is like modern day Psalms. You say what you are really thinking and feeling and then you reign it in under the truth and promises we have as children of God. I do pray for you and have shared your writing with so many people that are hurting to help show them (and me) that it takes work to focus on the Truth instead of being at the mercy of our fears and feelings, but it is so worth it!!!ReplyCancel

    • September 30, 2017 - 1:01 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing, Mavis. So glad the Lord used this to encourage you. Love this: “it takes work to focus on the Truth instead of being at the mercy of our fears and feelings, but it is so worth it!!!” AMEN.ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2017 - 12:35 pm

    Crystal - Awesome reminder that although we might not get all that we want in this (earthly) life, God still offers us daily provision as well as His presence and His love forever and for always.ReplyCancel

  • October 3, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    Jimmy Manser - Dear Vaneetha – Thank you for your authentic expression of faith in God’s goodness. It’s so true how God repeatedly meets us where we are, sometimes “just in time”. The lessons to trust in Jesus Christ continues along life’s journey. Like yourself, I blog to share, in hopes that my struggles reveal a light to encourage others. Sometimes I know the title of my blog, and the contents usually follow shortly after. But, not for my September blog, which has past. I’m daunted by the title, postponing the writing ’cause it’s SO BIG, doubting that I’m “good enough” to compose the message adequately. What I do know is that the title is in alignment with God’s truth. Your blog has led me to start writing. “Embrace Everything with Love and Gratitude”. You are a Christ Warrior, Vaneetha. Fight on!ReplyCancel

    • October 5, 2017 - 3:55 pm

      Vaneetha - Glad my blog spurred you on to start writing your next post, Jimmy. I like the title!ReplyCancel

  • October 5, 2017 - 9:46 am

    H Nani - The Message translation may be unsuitable for serious personal reflection, theology.
    One example to verify this is the rendition of the Lord’s Prayer:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Message_(Bible)#Lord.27s_Prayer_.28Matthew_6:9-13.29
    … I don’t want to be one of “those” people; i hope you don’t mind the info in a negative way (or haven’t heard it a million times before),ReplyCancel

    • October 5, 2017 - 3:53 pm

      Vaneetha - I agree, though it can be helpful in illuminating a passage in a different light.ReplyCancel

  • October 18, 2017 - 3:03 pm

    Connected Carole - Your post sounded like I could have written it! We did a major house remodel and had to plan for what we hoped we’d never need: wheelchair wide doors and accessibility. What you experience could have been my words. Then I read your About and saw why. I have PPS (started severely at age 31) plus Dystonia which interacts badly with PPS. Thanks for the encouraging words.ReplyCancel

    • October 19, 2017 - 9:45 am

      Vaneetha - I’m glad this was encouraging though I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. I’m sure dystonia with PPS is quite challenging to say the least…ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2017 - 9:26 am

    Clint - What a fount of faith you are and how human your frailties are while your blog gives such testimony as to the sovereign blessings of the Lord and the possibilities of the different ways God will provide for us regardless of health and provisional circumstances. To God be the glory that you move me to deepen my faith and trust yet again as I am able to receive your sharing and others’ sharing and realize how much we all ultimately have in common.ReplyCancel

    • October 24, 2017 - 6:26 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Clint. I too am so thankful for “the different ways God will provide for us regardless of health and provisional circumstances.” So glad this post encouraged you.ReplyCancel

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anger+

 

I lost my temper. Again.

Before I knew it, I was raising my voice, trying to talk over my daughter. Our discussion was heating up and I was tired of listening. In my mind, she was saying the same thing over and over.

I, of course, had fresh new things to say.

As far as I was concerned, I needed to be heard. I didn’t need to hear. Which was the heart of the problem.

I’ve been thinking about the need to listen for a while, particularly since I finished our Bible Study on James last fall. In it, James exhorts us to be quick to listen.

Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. I can recite that verse from memory. I’ve always thought it had great wisdom. Wisdom for other people.

Learning Scripture is an entirely different thing from living it.

In the heat of a discussion, all of my knowledge goes out the window. I am quick to speak and slow to listen, and my anger spills out everywhere.

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Paul Demski held+ 

This month marks twenty years since our beloved son Paul was born and I am reposting this article from 2014 about him and the song “Held.” I am reminded once again that God’s ways are not our ways, but we can trust that he will ultimately use all the sorrows in our lives for our joy and for his glory.

***

Burying my precious baby was devastating. I had no idea how to cope with his sudden unexpected death. True, Paul had been born with a heart problem, but he had survived the critical surgery at birth and was thriving. He’d come home from the hospital at three weeks old, and after a slow start, began gaining weight.

With his winsome smile, easy disposition, and mop of curly dark hair, he delighted us all. He was healthy and beautiful. Even the physician filling in for Paul’s regular cardiologist was so impressed with his progress that he impulsively eliminated most of his heart medications. Paul didn’t need them anymore. He was fine. At first, I was encouraged by the good news. But two days later, Paul was dead. He was only two months old.

I struggled to accept what had happened. That a doctor’s foolish mistake took my baby’s life. As I watched them lower Paul’s tiny casket, I buried my dreams for him. How could his life glorify God? I felt nothing good could come from his pointless death.

But God in His wisdom knew differently. He uses everything in our lives as we submit to Him. He can turn the broken and marred and ugly into something beautiful. And He did that with Paul’s death.

Month later, I shared the story of Paul’s life and death with a new friend. That friend, Christa Wells, is a recording artist who subsequently wrote the song “Held,” which begins with the story of Paul. The opening lyrics are raw:

“Two months is too little, they let him go. They had no sudden healing. To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.”

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  • September 1, 2017 - 10:11 am

    Jimmy - What a beautiful and sad story. I am so sorry for your loss. So many people are killing their babies out of convenience and you tried to keep yours with all your might. Our world is in a sorry state. But God has a reason for everything. What a beautiful song. I forwarded your message to as many people as I could. I pray for you!

    1 Chronicles 16:34
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.ReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:35 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Jimmy. It’s amazing how good God is in the midst of suffering.ReplyCancel

  • September 1, 2017 - 10:19 am

    Crystal - What a beautiful little boy! And what a beautiful song as well. Thank you so much for sharing such a painful yet profound message with us. You are so right when you speak of how God uses suffering and loss for much greater purposes in the grand scheme of things. Even the torture and murder of his own son Jesus was allowed by God in order to bring healing, restoration, and salvation for us. The Lord knows firsthand the utter agony of loss but I thank God that He prepared a way for us to never know that pain again in heaven. In eternity, this earthly life and all its agony will be but a fleeting memory and our real lives in eternity will be shared with those little ones like your adorable baby (and also my little baby brother who was named Bruce Jr.) who are waiting with open arms to hold us and welcome us into eternity with them and with God forever and for always.
    Hallelujah to God for that!ReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:39 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing Crystal! Heaven will be great as we get to see all our loved ones who have gone before us. But the most exciting thing about heaven is that we will be with Jesus in unending fellowship with him forever and ever. And there will be no more tears or crying or pain. When I look at this life in that perspective, all my suffering is indeed a light and momentary affliction…ReplyCancel

      • September 4, 2017 - 11:38 pm

        Guerda - Amen.ReplyCancel

      • September 5, 2017 - 7:05 am

        Crystal - You are 100% correct! By the way, I hope you go to youtube and look up your song… I have scrolled through the comments underneath and the amount of people your song has helped to get through devastating tragedies is amazing. I thank God for you and for the talent He has given you to help others through painful experiences and to lead them back to God for comfort, salvation, and restoration.ReplyCancel

  • September 1, 2017 - 10:20 am

    Leslie - This song has ministered to me so many times in my life. I had a miscarriage in 2007, and God used that time in my life to show me many things about who He is. Thank you for sharing your story– I had no idea who the song was about, but I was sure there was a real story behind the song.

    God uses your openness and vulnerability to minister to others who are hurting. Thank you for taking that risk.

    LeslieReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:40 pm

      Vaneetha - I am so glad that the song has ministered to you, Leslie. It has been a blessing for me as “Held” reminds me how tenderly God cares for us in our pain.ReplyCancel

      • September 13, 2017 - 10:52 pm

        Christina - Hi Vaneetha, Thanks so much for sharing ur lovely story, it truly touched me.ReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2017 - 7:28 am

    Chuck Bean - The promise of His faithfulness to us, not based on anything in us, but totally on His unfailing love, that promise is the subject of our gazing and as we see it, we are transformed into what we are beholding. Thank you for sharing your hurts.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2017 - 11:40 pm

    Guerda - Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.ReplyCancel

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