Saturday, March 29, 2008

Observations Over My Wife's Pregnancy, Miscarriage, and Faith in Christ

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1:2-6)

After this week's heart wrenching news of a miscarriage, my wife Terra has displayed for me how to live out this passage in the middle of a broken and fallen world. If there is one book in the Bible that my wife has memorized, meditated, and modeled, it has been the book of James. And particularly during our trials this week, I have seen suffering lead my wife through tremendous, significant personal growth.

When I first discovered the joy of Terra's second pregnancy, it was while working at Meijer that she shared this wonderful news. Even in all of Terra's creativity in making a shirt for Hannah saying she will be a "Big Sis," I was still oblivious to what was going on. It wasn't until I saw tears of joy welling in my wife's eyes that I got it and she plainly said, "I'm pregnant."

In only a week from the announcement of Terra's joyful pregnancy, came the pain of miscarriage. The majority of Monday was a lot of tears, listening, hugging, encouragements, praying, and speaking of God's promises. I kept praying, "God sustain us. God keep us. God show your love to us. God help us to trust You." While working through the week, I kept text messaging Terra, checking up on her and listening to how she was feeling. With amazement, I saw the gracious love of God carrying Terra in remarkable ways.

First, I observed how God filled my wife's heart with songs of peace, joy, and hope. The first song I heard her sing was, "There Is a Peace" by Charlie Richardson at our church. I kept hearing her sing, filling our home with these words, "There is a peace to settle your soul. There is a peace that is calling you home." During the week, when we would be riding together, in the cd player would be "In the Valley," sung by Shannon Harris in the album Valley of Vision. Then towards the end of the week, songs like "Glory to the Highest" by Chris Tomlin and "It is Well with My Soul," by Horatio Spafford.

Second observation was the specific passages that God inclined Terra to read and meditate. While working Monday at Meijer I received a text message that read, "I'm cramping so hard. I'm convinced I've lost the baby. Pray that I trust in the Lord's strength...I'm clinging to Rev. 21 right now." Taking a short day at work on Monday, we both sat on our front porch and Terra began to share to me how Psalm 139 had ministered to her soul.

Third, is Terra's steadfastness in Christ to continue in her responsibilities as a wife, mom, jewelry distributor, neighbor, sister, daughter, and friend. As a wife, she continued to have lunches with me at Meijer. She continued to clean our home. Terra kept text messaging me, encouraging me towards the Lord. As a mother to Hannah, she continued caring for her physical needs (feeding her, bathing her, changing her diapers) and emotional needs (waking up during the night to console her, reading to her, playing with her). As a jewelry seller, Terra still had a show this past Wednesday at a school, serving teachers and administrative personnel. Even after her show, she shared how fun it was to serve and earn money for our family. As a neighbor, she pursued our neighbor friend Amy after getting into a fender bender this past week. As a sister, Terra was able to listen and counsel her younger sister Sheena over matters of religion and Christian living. As a daughter, Terra listened to her mother's burdens in life. And as friend, she still received and called individuals and responded to e-mails. It blows my mind away to see such gospel resilience and perseverance in Terra.

Fourth, is the way that Terra can still genuinely rejoice with those who experience joy in life. I remember being in the living room this past week and hearing Terra's voice of excitement as our dear friend Genelle at church announced that she was having twin babies. If I recall, it was Terra who called our friend Genelle to inquire how her doctor's appointment went. With God's grace, I saw genuine joy for others in my wife.

Fifth, is Terra's devotion to God in her 6 am quiet times. As I look back this week, I saw my wife wake up and seek God's face in His Word and in prayer. Terra longed for God's presence every morning this week. By faith, Terra continued to go to God with her fears, doubt, confusion, and despair. After learning about her bleeding, I remembered Terra going to her prayer journal and beginning to write. Her blog, "A Time to Mourn," was a reflection of her prayer journal to God. My wife modeled for me how to cry out to God who is Sufficient and Sovereign.

During our date night last night, we had a lot of time to share and identify evidences of grace in each other through a hard and emotional week. We were both transparent in sharing how our trials could have led us to temptations and sin. Things such as being angry at God and withdrawing from His presence because it was not fair or because our pain was just to heavy. There was the temptation to also withdraw from community and sink into self-despair. However, what I have learned from my wife is that in our desperate moments we need to run to God, not away from Him or His people.

A summary of what what I have gleaned from my wife Terra in the valley of trials and suffering follows. First, sing to God. Let us be reminded that the psalms are songs. Many of the psalms are songs about sufferings and trials. There is nothing like singing to direct the postures of our hearts. "Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day" (Ps. 86:3). Second, read, recall to mind, and recite out loud God's promises. There is comfort and refuge in God's Word. "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul..." (Ps. 19:7). Third, move into some useful, God-glorifying, and others centered activities. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Rom. 12:11). "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). Do not allow idleness or vulnerable behaviors to take hold of your life. Get up and serve someone in the strength of Christ. Change a diaper. Clean the house. Play games with your children. Write a blog. Walk around your neighborhood. Visit your spouse at work. Call someone. Write someone. Fourth, continue to rejoice with others' joys in the strength of Christ. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). Fifth, strive and remain steady, seeking God's presence. "One thing have I asked the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple...You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek." (Ps. 27:4, 8) Don't let up. Don't give up. Don't run away. But run to God with your grief stricken heart. "...call upon [God] in the day of trouble; [He] will deliver you, and you shall glorify [Him]" (Ps. 50:15).

My wife has modeled well the passage from James 1:2-6. She showed me how not to "waste a miscarriage." It was her relationship with Christ that has caused her to respond in this faithful way. There was the strong temptation in Terra this past week to remain immature, incomplete, and deficient. But by God's Sovereign grace, she matured and grew more in the likeness of our Suffering Savior, Jesus Christ. I praise God to have a wife whose solid foundation is in a Wise and Sovereign God. "...The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21).

Encouraged To Endure to the End,
Your Husband

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