Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved the verse John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” In context, Jesus is telling his disciples that there will be a time when he is no longer with them, but his intent is to comfort them, encourage them, and strengthen them. Thinking about this verse for my life here and now, it just amazes me that THE Prince of Peace loves us SO much. He doesn’t gloss over the struggles that we’ll go through; in this world, bad things will happen – but have my perfect peace, have my strength, have my courage, take heart, I have already overcome this world, and I will be with you.
Throughout my life, that verse has continued to pop into my mind – and even more frequently, last year. In the fall, I was taking a class at work, and they talked about having a life verse, encouraging us to find one that speaks to us and cling to it. I instantly knew what mine was, and looking back it seems silly that I never thought of that verse as my “life verse” before. Then, a few weeks later I was involved in a Greek word study project, one of the words we looked at was “courage.” So of course, this verse showed up in the list – the Greek term for “take heart” is tharseo. In November, I decided to have “take heart!” tattooed on my arm. I just loved that charge, that calling, from the Lord, and I wanted to make it a sure reminder for myself. I claimed “courage” as my word for 2016.
Meanwhile, Cory and I felt like the Lord said it was time to start a family. In January of 2016 we found out that I was pregnant, and then a few weeks later that we had lost the baby. I know this is probably a surprise to most reading this, but it was definitely the most heartbreaking time of my life. I went through a variety of emotions; questioning, a lot of times anger, but mostly just sadness. My faith in the Lord and His goodness never wavered, but the best way I could describe how I was doing was “just sad.”
(Side bar: If anyone reading this has had a miscarriage and is facing the choice of whether to wait, or take medication, or have a D&C, please reach out. There isn’t one right way and I don’t want to convince you to do what I did, but I would love to openly share my experience with you. It is a very emotional, sometimes lonely, sometimes scary time, and I wish that I would have had someone to talk to that had already been through it, that I could ask all the questions to, and just cry with.)
In the beginning, my main coping mechanism was distraction. I thought if I kept myself busy enough with everything else going on around me, I wouldn’t have to think about losing a child and I could still function without being a wreck. It worked fairly well for a while. I told myself that it was something I could just get through, but then the Lord majorly convicted me that I shouldn’t be just getting through it alone. Keeping myself distracted was unfortunately very effectively blocking the Lord from comforting me. The Bible tells us over and over again that God is our Comforter, and then when Christ ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit came to give us comfort and guidance. It seems so crazy to have simply ignored all that! When I really took a moment to actively invite the Lord in to comfort me, I believe that’s when the true healing began. It wasn’t instant, and in a lot of ways I’m still healing now, (and I’m pretty sure the heartbreak will never fully be erased), but this time with the Lord has truly been so sweet and has changed my life forever. Out of this terrible heartbreak, I’ve discovered a new reliance on Him, a new way to take heart and trust in His love for me and His faithfulness.
Throughout this journey, the Lord has clearly spoken reminders of specific promises He’s given me in my life. About a month ago, around 2 months after we found out about the miscarriage, we had a Night of Worship at our campus. I wasn’t specifically asking the Lord for anything or even thinking about the miscarriage, but during a quiet time of reflection, I very clearly heard Him remind me of a Word that was spoken over me when I was in high school. I worked at Target, and I specifically remember I was straightening the little boys clothing section, and a woman, a complete stranger, walked up to me and said “The Lord wanted me to tell you that you are going to be such a good mom.” I remember tearing up at the moment, not really understanding why because I was 16 and being a mom was the furthest thing from my mind. But during that Night of Worship, I had a holy reminder of that promise. And instantly I remembered that multiple times since then, I have had other people tell me the same thing. Some strangers, some people I knew, multiple times the Lord has whispered that not only will I be a mother, but I’ll be a good one. How beautiful! How great is His love for us!
Then, just a few weeks ago, I was getting ready for work one morning, just humming some random song, and the words “I don’t understand Your ways, oh but I will give you my song” popped into my head. Instantly, I remembered another promise from God already fulfilled. Those words are lyrics to a song by Rita Springer called “It’s Gonna Be Worth It.” The first time that song ministered to me was the summer after my 8th grade year. My dad’s job transferred him from Texas to Ohio. We had just moved to Ohio, but my parents were able to send me back to Texas to go to youth camp with my church. I had incredibly close friends there, I was heavily involved in the youth group and the worship team, and in my teen angst, I was so sad about having to leave it all and start high school where I knew no one. That summer camp was the very first time I heard “It’s Gonna Be Worth It,” and I just bawled through the whole thing. It wasn’t fair that I had to leave all my friends and a place where I was comfortable, I didn’t understand why, but somehow I knew it would be worth it. That morning when I was reminded of that song, getting ready for work, the Lord whispered “Remember the last time you were ministered to by that song? Remember what I did for you?” If we had never moved to Ohio, the awkward new freshman never would have met the Ohio-born, curly-haired, skater kid. And they never would have spent the high school and college years falling in love. And they never would have gotten married! My husband honestly brings endless joy to my life, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if we had never moved from the comfortable and familiar. My heart is overwhelmed just thinking about that miracle!
I wanted to share all of this just to say, if you’re experiencing heartbreak, allow the Lord to comfort you in His most complete and loving way. I don’t believe that God causes pain in our lives, but I do believe He uses those moments of despair and brokenness to draw us closer to Himself. The times when I was asking “why,” He gently reminded me of every promise He had given me. And in the times when I was feeling unsure, He proved that He keeps the promises He makes. It takes courage to admit that you’re hurting and can’t do it alone, and it takes courage to trust and hope for the future. Thankfully, the Lord’s peace and comfort is perfect in every possible way, so “take heart!” and invite Him in to heal you.
[This song below is called “Thy Will,” by Hillary Scott. This is exactly the song I wish I had written during this time of our lives. I think it beautifully expresses a place that we get to in heartbreak or disappointment – things aren’t always fair, there’s not always a reason, but God’s ways are beyond us and better for us, and there truly is peace and comfort in accepting that. I hope you’re blessed by our cover!]