Sunday, March 25, 2012

“He is Not Afraid of Bad News”

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” Ps. 112:7

I have had bad news in my life. But I can say that personally, I have not had EXTREMELY bad news before now. I have had disappointments and losses. There have been hard times in my life that God has used to really refine me and teach me more about Himself. But it has only been in the last 8 months that I can say I have experienced the REALLY BAD news. You know, the kind that just completely rocks your world and you know that from that moment forward things will never be the same. My first experience with this truly awful kind of news was last July when our dear friends lost their little girl. Jesus took her to be with Him in heaven and she is experiencing such fullness of joy now. But oh how I mourned her and still do. I will always miss her. But it was still, no matter how much pain I felt over this loss, my friends who were the most directly affected.

However, now, in the last few weeks I have received news about my own little daughter growing in my womb. It was the “bad news” scenario you always hear other people going through and your heart just goes out to them and you pray you will never go through it yourself. The ultrasound tech saying he “is very worried” over my daughter’s bowed limbs. The doctor saying that he will be watching to see if her ribs grow correctly so that her lungs can grow and she will be able to breathe when she is born. The genetic counselor really pushing for the amniocentesis so we will know if she has one of the lethal diseases she is “high-risk” for having. The counselor telling us to not even really think of her as a girl because she may have one of the extremely rare lethal diseases where the baby’s reproductive organs don’t develop and we wouldn’t know if she was a girl or boy for sure right now unless we did the amnio. (And the unspoken—“you may want to know now in case you want to “terminate” the pregnancy.” Really, I wanted to tell them to not dance around this issue here. This is my child and I WILL NOT be ending her life no matter what diagnosis she is given!) Lots of bad news. (For a side note, there was a lot of good from this ultrasound that I choose to focus on that I mentioned in my last post. But, for the purpose for this post I am mentioning the bad news.)
We will just have to wait and see what God has in store for our Anna’s life.

However, I really took note the other day when I read in Psalm 112 that the righteous will not be afraid of bad news. I will be really honest. I DON’T want anymore bad news. I DREAD the next ultrasound. I just want to enjoy my baby and this pregnancy! But, when I read verse 7 I really paused. Why was the Psalmist saying to not be afraid of bad news? Because “his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” The beginning of the next verse says that “his heart is steady; he will not be afraid.” It was one of those moments when I really just dug deep into my heart. Is my heart firm and steady? Am I trusting in the Lord? I discovered that the answer to that was so multifaceted. When I thought back to when the ultrasound tech was giving us the first of the “bad news,” my heart had such peace. I was not doubting that God was in control. I had that same peace while speaking with the doctor and the genetic counselor. And, then, the crazy God-thing is that my heart KEEPS going back to that peace. Yes, there are times when I am fearful for my daughter and the future. I would just really like an easy pregnancy. I just want a “healthy” baby to bring home. But God, by and only by the power of the Holy Spirit, continually brings me back to His Word and His truth. I CHOOSE not to dwell on all the “what-ifs.” They really are not helpful. The Holy Spirit is continually aiding me in focusing on the Gospel. And when you focus on the truth and wholeness of the Gospel it is really hard to not be trusting. I mean, really, how can I not trust a God who sacrificed His own Son and poured out the fullness of His wrath on His child for me and for my baby? Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross HE has conquered sin, death, and the grave. This life is a journey that is leading me to my eternal home in Heaven with Jesus where there is no more sadness or tears or loss because sin is completely done away with. Jesus is making all things new and will right all the things gone terribly wrong. So how can I not TRUST my God. How can I not accept what comes from His hand? Should I not say with Job that I will accept good and evil from the hand of the LORD? Knowing that whatever He has in store for Anna, whatever her story looks like, He is working ALL THINGS for my good and her good. Knowing that if she were to breathe her last right now or not survive long out of the womb, she would be with Jesus and be whole and complete and experiencing happiness and peace that is indescribable! And my husband and I would be with her one day rejoicing around the throne for ETERNITY! All of these kinds of thoughts produce A LOT of faith and trust in my God. So, very slowly, I began to understand how the Psalmist could say that the righteous shouldn’t fear bad news because he TRUSTS in God. Bad news truly doesn’t last for the child of God---even if you are like my sweet friends who lost their precious little one. Yes, they will miss her their whole lives. The road will, at least at times, be hard as they walk the path of grief. But they have HOPE and will still experience joy and peace in this life. And when they are with their girl again in Glory, all the sadness and loss will melt away. Understanding the God we serve as we gaze upon the Gospel really does produce FAITH in our God. This is not to say trusting and not fearing is easy. But, focusing on the Gospel is how we fight for that trust. It is what gives lasting peace.

Our pastor who was preaching today out of Genesis 3 was saying that at the core of all sin is unbelief. Satan is the master deceiver and liar. He wants us to focus on what we don’t have. And man, in his foolish wisdom, will agree with him. But God gives wisdom that is from above and not of this world. He gives such grace to His children to sift through these lies and believe what is TRUE. Only a loving Heavenly Father, our Creator and Sustainer, knows exactly what we need and how to meet it. Only He can perfectly orchestrate our lives. I have asked myself: If God said, “You can decide. You can say what Anna will have. You can say whether she will be healthy or have a disability or have a lethal illness.” I still know, deep within my heart, that I would refuse to decide. I would willingly place the decision back in the hands of the Only One who is capable of making it. And I can TRUST whatever He deems right. And, by God’s limitless grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I continue to fight the fear of bad news. I continue to fight for I trust. This is NOTHING that happens on my own strength. It is ONLY by relying only on Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

We sang the song All I Have is Christ in church today. By God’s grace alone, I was able to sing the last verse and chorus and truly mean it.

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone and live so all might see
The strength to follow your commands could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life in any way Your choose
And let my song forever be my only boast is You

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ!
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two days ago our family recieved news that has turned our little world upside-down. At our 17 week ultrasound (and our first ultrasound with this baby), we saw that her long bones in all her limbs are very bowed. This could mean many things for us and our little one. This is a waiting process right now, but we can cling to Jer. 29:11---God DOES have good plans for us. Plans that include HOPE! Below is a letter I sent out to family. It sums up my heart pretty well right now.

Hello Family,
Well, it has certainly been a walk of faith the past 24 plus hours, hasn't it? And, the fact is, it will continue to be one. It occurred to me as I have been fighting for faith that you may be struggling with some (and some of you, all) the same struggles I am. So, I thought I would share with you how I have been fighting. First, I have been reminding myself of what actually happened...not all the "what ifs." Our little girl actually looks GREAT in so many ways. The ultrasound technician actually said, "she has a beautiful heart." I thought that was so sweet and maybe profound as I have been praying that God will make her heart so beautiful as she learns to trust in Him. Her brain, lungs, stomach and other organs all looked great and right where they should be in the growing process. Her head was the size that it should be. Her feet are not clubbed. Her bones looked healthy and dense...not brittle. Just, bless her little heart, did she ever look like she has some curved limbs! But, she is kicking those little limbs all around...I feel her more and more everyday---which was a sweet blessing yesterday. I actually asked the doctor and the Genetic Specialist if this looked life threatening to her at this point and they both said no. The one concern that the doctor expressed to me is if her rib cage stopped growing as it should. That would mean that her lungs couldn't develop and that she wouldn't be able to live outside the womb. But, seeing that her ribs looked perfect yesterday as did her lungs I am just praying with confidence that they will continue to grow as they should!
Yes, they sent us to a Genetic Specialist who wanted to test for every possible known disease that this little one may have. And, you know, yes, she could have the very worst of them. But, it doesn't look like she has that right now, so I have firmly decided that it does my heart absolutely NO GOOD to sit and dwell on all these awful possibilities. However, this also doesn't mean that I am going to live in a dream world and pretend that everything is perfectly fine with her. There are SO MANY possibilities. We could go back for an ultrasound and everything look great, or the same, or worse. I won't know until that day. So, where are my thoughts as I go throughout my day. When I think of this little one...what am I thinking?
Well, here is how it has looked so far. Yes, I did look on line at the worse disease she could have, and no, it was not helpful to me in any way what so ever. So, how do I fight when all those awful thoughts come into my head. I can feel afraid to plan her nursery or go through clothes for her and so many other things when I think of the very worst. So, again, how do I fight? Well, these have been some very helpful truths I have been dwelling on.

1. I don't know the number of her days, but God does (Psalm 139). You know, we could have seen an absolutely perfect baby yesterday I then I could have miscarried her in a week. I have no guarantee of a tomorrow with her. But, GOD KNOWS! That is good news! Why?
2. Because HE LOVES HER!!!! He loves her passionately, fervently, sweetly, tenderly, wisely. I imagine Him holding her with his great big God Hands---forming her so perfectly as HE SEES FIT. Perhaps he sees fit for her to have a life long disability. Perhaps his sees fit for her to be completely normal. Perhaps he sees fit for her to only be with us for a short time. I can trust that because HE LOVES HER. He sent Jesus, His own Son, to die a horrible death in HER place (Rom. 8:32). HE is caring for her. She is LOVED by my God. And her life WILL accomplish the purposes that my loving God has set for her.
3. That same God also loves me with the same passion, the same tenderness, the same wisdom. I LOVED what is says in the Gospel Primer book---"For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes for me.......The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me...." Romans 8: 28 says that all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:34-39 says that Christ is praying for me and that NOTHING can separate me from his love! Is. 41:10 tells me to not be afraid or dismayed because my God will strengthen me and help me and uphold me with His hand. His promises are here for me in His Word and He will help me by His Holy Spirit to cling to them no matter what the future holds.
4. So what does this all look like practically? Well, I do cry...a lot. I think that is a very normal, woman, emotion thing. But God has been SO gracious to me! Even when I am crying my heart feels peaceful because God is giving me the grace to pray with confidence and to cling to his Word through all the tears. Sometimes my heart feels very heavy when I think yet again of my little girl not having a "normal" life. But, that heaviness does not drag me into the pit of despair because I have an anchor of the soul to hold fast to. I CHOOSE not to think on things or dwell on things that are really just not helpful. She may actually be perfectly "normal" with just crazy ultrasound. She may not be normal but God may choose to heal her. Or, God may determine for her to have an illness/disability that could affect her life in so many ways. I DON'T KNOW. So, I am not dwelling on what I don't know. I am meditating on what I DO KNOW----all the things in 1, 2, and 3 above.

It is amazing how much I LOVE her. All my mothering feelings and instincts have come out in full force. I tell her all the time that I love her, that she is treasured, that I am thankful for her. I tell her that there is no one who loves her more or better than Jesus (I tell Cara this everyday too). And, really, I am thankful for whatever time God gives me with her. This has definitely made me not take one moment of her little life for granted. And already she has this AMAZING story! If she lives to the ripe old age of 100, she can tell everyone of God's incredible faithfulness to her. And, if she only lives a moment outside the womb or even if God takes her tomorrow---I will spend the rest of my life telling her story to all who will listen for the GLORY of my Savior (yes, tears did just stream down my face as I wrote that. :)

So, I love you all dearly. And, please keep praying for our girl....that God will straighten her bones, that all her bones, organs, and bodily functions will be forming properly and "normally." Pray for her heart---that even from the womb God would be drawing her heart to himself, whispering His tender love to her, calling her forth to be a woman who proclaims His Gospel. Pray against these diseases, pray against the enemy and his lies, pray that God will use all this for His glory---as I know He is already doing. And, thank you for everyone else who you have praying for us too!