When I lived in Michigan, God brought me some incredible friends whom I have cherished greatly. Our group of women (and their respective husbands and children) became a group I loved to get together with for anything – games, Bible study, babysitting, or girl’s night. No matter what each of us is going through, we are always there for each other. Last year, one of these friends, Heidi, went through a difficult miscarriage. There were no words we could say, only hugs and shared tears and shoulders to cry on. Heidi has written these words for you today, no matter what you are going through. No matter how hard, God is still faithful. It is truly an honor to invite Heidi to write for All For Him Life today.
By Heidi O’Neill
Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes you are rolling along and out of nowhere you get horrible news. You’re knocked flat on your back and gasping for air, head reeling as you try to come to terms with your new reality. Maybe for you it was hearing of a sudden death of a family member, a bad diagnosis, your spouse leaving you, or losing your job. For me it was an ultra sound and a doctor telling me words that my ears would not register – we had lost our daughter to miscarriage.
We had a rocky first trimester but had made it to the second trimester. My nausea and fatigue had lifted, our doctor felt that we only needed routine care from that point on, and we felt like we were spared. We felt assured that our fervent prayers and those of our friends and family had been answered.
But then the spotting returned and I set up to go in for a heartbeat check later that day. I went by myself because we had been told that spotting could just be a part of this pregnancy. Two nurses couldn’t find the heartbeat. “Sometimes we just can’t find the heartbeat with the Doppler at this point in the pregnancy,” the nurse told me. “You are next in line for the ultra sound, we’ll check this out .” I held out hope while I called my husband and waited for my turn in the ultra sound room. It had always turned out fine so far. We prayed together and held our breath. Nothing could have prepared my heart to hear my doctor explain that although I should I have been 15 weeks pregnant my baby had died around 12 weeks. We would never get to meet that sweet child here on earth. Of all the hard things I have been through, nothing had ever rocked my faith like this.
My heart was full of questions. So many questions. Why her? Why my little one? How could she have died nearly three weeks ago without me knowing anything was wrong? Why were there no symptoms earlier? How was I going to tell my 2 year old son who couldn’t wait to be a big brother? How was I ever going to be ok again? How was I ever going to trust God again? How can a God who loves let something hurt me like this? If God really loved me, why did he let this happen? If God is all powerful, why didn’t he answer these prayers? Why her? Why us? Why does this happen to any little ones at all?
Why does a good God allow such awful things to happen to those he loves?
Through the moments, days, and weeks that followed I knew that I should trust God. I’m a rule-following, people-pleaser by nature and inclined to “do the right thing.” I told my heart, “trust God, he loves you,” but my mind hurled back more questions, doubts, and plenty of anger. I knew that in all of the anger and pain I couldn’t make her come back. I couldn’t fix this, and I couldn’t make it stop hurting.
God turned my mind to one word, meno. I had fallen in love with this word from a Bible Study of 1 John I did last fall (What Love Is by Kelly Minter). Meno is greek for remain, abide. We had studied and looked deeply at this word, specifically in the passage where John calls believers to “remain in the truth.” It is hard to force yourself to believe something. I’m strong willed, but even I only have so much will power. The most precious thing about this word is that it is translated in all of these ways: abide, be held in, wait with expectancy, continue in.
Be held in the truth.
God doesn’t expect us to be faithful to him on our own. He sent his Spirit to live in us. The power of God living in us, is helping us to remain in his truth. He is helping us. He was and is helping me. God also warns us that “in this world we will have trouble,” and “Do not be surprised when you face trials of many kinds.” He knows there would be hard things that will weigh on us and be painful. When we walk through those things our hearts can feel betrayed. It is hard to see why a loving God would allow us to walk through such suffering. Our hearts can be prone to wander and wonder if God even loves us at all. That is exactly why John calls us to remain in the truth – the truth of the Gospel.
You see, the Gospel is that God created and loves humanity. He cares for us, provides for us, and in return we have sinned against him over and over and over again. The Bible tells us that the wages for sin is death and that there is nothing we can do to pay that price. Yet God, being full of mercy, gave up his own son to pay for our sin. He sent Jesus to die a painful, criminal’s death, paying for the sins of the world even though he was sinless. Jesus died to pay the price for our sin so that through his work we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. That is the truth. That is love. The truth of the Gospel, is that God does love me and gave himself up to be with me.
So in the pain I hold to that truth. I hold onto it for dear life reminding myself that God is with me, that his promises are true even when it doesn’t feel like it. It hasn’t been easy and there have been plenty of bad days. Walking through this suffering I have let this word meno remind me to hold onto the truth of God’s love as well as other truths of scripture.
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
“I will strengthen you, help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” (Psalm 56:8)
“in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“God is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
As I have clung to these truths and prayed for strength and peace I don’t want you to think that my questions just went away. I continued to feel angry, hurt, and so, so sad. This made me think a lot about Job and how he wrestled with God through questions too.
One Sunday our pastor shared a video about Job(Reading Scripture: Job http://bit.ly/2n5ta5a). Job went through awful things too. He suffered and questioned why. I was surprised that the video pointed out thought that the question of why bad things happen to good people is never answered in his book. When Job questions God and demands his explanations God does not give him an explanation like he wants. Instead he shows him that Job is not able to fill the position of God of the Universe and that he cannot understand all of God’s ways. God invites Job to trust him and his wisdom when hard things happen.
Like Job, I am humbled by God’s awesome power. I could never dream of running the world. It is impossible for me to see how all of the pieces of life fit together. So when hard things come I lean hard into God. I still ask my questions, and beg for peace, but now I also pray for greater trust. I pray that God will increase my trust in him and in his wisdom and sovereignty. I feel so sad and upset that Lilly died, but I do acknowledge there must be more going on that God knew about and I did not. I pray that God will help me continue to lean hard into him and be assured of his love and good plans for my life.
The day after I delivered Lilly I got the word “meno” tattooed on my left wrist. I am so forgetful of God’s love and promises that I wanted myself to have a constant, visual reminder to remain in his truth. I wanted to remind myself that I am held there by the power of the Holy Spirit and I don’t need to do it on my own. When I see it I pick a truth to focus on and pray that God would help me believe it in my heart more than I know it in my head.
He is faithful. He is walking with me and is answering those prayers.
He wants to walk with you too. I pray that you will open your heart to him and let him love you and hold you in his truth too.