Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last weekend at church, we had a guest speaker who did a brilliant job teaching on the suffering of Job and different lessons the Bible gives us when it comes to our own suffering. It really hit home during a somewhat difficult season. Not only have Ryan and I gone through our own sadness, but other people in our family are suffering as well. My 85-year-old grandmother, who already has Alzheimer’s, recently had a stroke. It was a mild one, and she seems to be getting better each day, but it’s definitely taken a toll on my sweet old grandpa who hates to see his lovebird in such a state. They celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary last week, and are as sweet as can be. 64 years! What a blessing! It’s also taken its toll on my Mom, who has taken such good care of both of them. Mom is quite a go-getter when it comes to crisis situations, and has once again stepped up and helped her parents every way she can.
Also, we recently found out that my Aunt Carol, my Mom’s little sister, has cancer. It’s in her colon and liver, and more tests may show that it has spread beyond those two places. It is already stage 4. She’s only 57. Not good. Mother flew out to California to be with my aunt for the week, and hopefully we’ll know more soon. Before I go on to the thoughts on suffering, can you please take a moment to pray for my family? Pray that my Grandpa would love Grandma well and that the Lord would sustain him. Pray that the Lord would heal my Aunt Carol and sustain her as she faces this devastating news. Pray also for my Mom, who needs prayer as she tries to be the strong and brave cheerleader while the people closest to her are falling apart. She and I joked last week, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” I’m sure at times it really does seem like that darn sky really is falling.
As I think of all of these things, I am encouraged by Dr. Zaspel’s words on suffering. You can get the entire message on the DSC website, but I’ll sum up some of the main things that stuck out to me. Job was a healthy man with a large family and great wealth. And very quickly, Job had lost it all. He lost his wealth, he lost his home, he lost all of his children, he lost all of his animals, he lost health, he lost the support of his wife and friends, and even at some points due to God’s haunting silence during this pain, he felt he’s lost his God. His response: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:20-22. Job has lost EVERYTHING, but he worshiped and did not charge God with wrong.
One of the first things we can learn is that suffering often comes as the result of an unseen conflict in the spiritual world. The Bible tells us that Satan is on the hunt like a hungry lion, wanting to devour our souls. God is allowing Satan to tempt Job, but God has him on a leash. When suffering seems out of the blue, we don’t understand, but it may be because we’ve drawn enemy fire. I had never thought of this before, but pastor said, “God may have set out to silence Satan though a suffering saint. Our suffering can be purposeful. By suffering well and trusting the Lord through difficult times, God gives us a means by which we can honor Him.”
Secondly, in our suffering, God is calling us to a robust faith. Job had no answers for why he was suffering and couldn’t put it all together. God didn’t tell Job at first, and he doesn’t always tell us either. A question Dr. Zaspel challenged us with was, “Do I trust God or feel as though he owes me an explanation?” God owes us no explanation; we owe it to Him to trust him. We do God no honor only to trust him when we understand and agree completely. Also, it’s not important that we know all the answers, because He’s given us more than enough to trust Him.
Lastly, we must learn from this book with our New Testament glasses. Job had no mediator between he and God. He had no one to give him answers and make it right between them. But we have a mediator who entered into our suffering in order to restore us to God. He is touched with our feelings of calamities. God gives us all the grace that we need for every single minute. In 2nd Corinthians, God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul replies, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I hope you too can be encouraged by these words, whether in a season of suffering or season of great joy…The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
It seems I haven’t blogged in about two months, and this is because the last two months Ryan and I have walked through some very difficult days. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not it’s the internet’s (and by the internet I mean the random people who may or may not read this blog’s) business, but I think it’s important to share troubling times as well as the happy times that have mostly filled the pages of this blog. So today, random people who may or may not be reading this blog, we are turning the corner on roses and sunshine and sharing the current burden on our lives.
In early April, Ryan and I were ecstatic and grateful to find out that we were pregnant. We met with the midwife, I loved her, and she scheduled an early ultrasound the next week to date the pregnancy since we weren’t 100% positive how far along I was. According to my (99% positive) calculations, I was about 8 weeks at the ultrasound. Expecting to hear a little heartbeat and see a little blob of a baby in there, we were sorely disappointed when we saw an empty gestational sac staring back at us on the screen. Of course the ultrasound tech can’t tell you anything, but her demeanor changed dramatically, and I knew something wasn’t right. They did not have a doctor in the office at that point that could talk to me, but the sweet nurse on the phone did say that there was an empty gestational sac that measured about 6 and a half weeks. The next day I met with a new OB, who was also very kind. She diagnosed me with a blighted ovum, which means I was pregnant, but the baby either never developed, or stopped developing at some point. This was our first pregnancy, and of course we had high hopes for the little one growing inside.
When you’re diagnosed with a miscarriage, they give you 3 options. First option: Let your body take it’s course and allow it miscarry on its own. 2nd: Take a pill that induces a miscarriage within 24 hours and 3rd: Have a procedure called a D&C where they knock you out and remove the fetal tissue from your uterus. At that point I decided that I would let my body do its thing although I had no symptoms of miscarriage at all. As a matter of fact, I felt very much pregnant. Although no baby was growing, my body was still producing pregnancy hormones because the gestational sac was still in there. My hormone levels even shot up from 39,000 to 57,000 in one week after the diagnosis. Lovely.
Then, two weeks later my HCG levels were going down, but still no sign of a miscarriage and I was really ready for it to be over. I asked for the D&C because I had read many horror stories online about the medicine they give you. I understand the surgery is more invasive, but the side effects of that medicine seemed way worse. When I asked to be scheduled, they couldn’t get me in until ANOTHER 2 weeks. Patience. The D&C was about a week ago, and although not my most spectacular experience, they did their best to make me comfortable and every nurse and doctor I have had contact with either in person or on the phone has been so kind and understanding and helpful. We’re very thankful for that.
We have many other things to be thankful for throughout this ordeal. We have a good God who loves us and gives us the grace to handle difficult situations. The grace He has shown us through our friends and family has been wonderful. Ryan and I are blessed to have a very strong support system and we’re thankful to everyone who has lent an ear, prayed for us, and really loved us through this. Not all moments have been those of gratitude, and there have been many “why?’s” to be sure. The end of Romans 11 has spoken volumes lately, and appropriately enough I wrote these verses down the morning of that initial ultrasound.
“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever.”
Have I mentioned my amazingly kind, sensitive, caring, and supportive husband? Ryan has gone above and beyond to love, pray, and encourage his somewhat loony bin of a wife… and for now we’ll blame it on the ebbing and flowing of hormones and emotions. I am very grateful for my sweet husband.
Although there is temptation to be anxious about when we try again and what the future holds for our little family, we are sure God will continue to pour out His grace on us as we move forward one day at a time.