“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them” Jeremiah 32:40.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since we received the crushing diagnosis that our 20-week unborn child had a severe congenital abnormality. Doctors gave her no hope of being born alive. When you receive a diagnosis like that, your life immediately turns from vivid color to a dull, cloudy gray. Destiny was born alive, but her time on earth was short. She suffered continual seizures, couldn’t maintain her body temperature, and was fed through a feeding tube due to a cleft palate. Finally, her little body gave up its spirit three months later, and she died peacefully at home.
As I look back, as difficult as any circumstance is, I learned that you can get to the other side of it. There is healing. There is recovery. But it’s not a given that you will heal without bitterness, without self-pity, or without guilt. What you let your mind dwell on, even amid the trial, will affect not only the peace you can experience during it but how you do on the other side of the pain. A couple of days after Destiny died, I sat down with my journal and wrote myself a list of ways to grieve appropriately. It sounds almost silly, but the enemy can get into your mind at a time like that and start twisting things up, telling you that God is not good. He will tell you that life is unfair and that the tragedy was your fault. So I journaled the condemning thoughts and took each of them captive by writing a corresponding truth from scripture so that my mind wouldn’t be controlled by the evil one. It’s something that I do to this day.
I learned that life is hard, and difficult things will happen to us. Yet, for some reason, we expect our lives to be easy. And when they are not, we finite humans tend to blame God. Our temptation is to judge God by our experiences instead of believing who God proves himself to be in his Word. We don’t know what God is doing in our difficulties. All we can see is a snapshot of time. And when we confine our view of God to moments, we lose track of the redemptive story that God is writing.
If the snapshots Joseph used to define his view of God were from the pit or his prison cell, he might declare God as distant, unloving, and mean. But that wasn’t the end of his story. God had a redemptive plan. And if we judged God by the snapshot of Jesus on the cross, we might accuse him of abandoning his own Son. Yet, as Tim Keller says, “[On the cross] we are looking at the greatest, most brilliant thing God could ever do for the human race. Both justice and love are being satisfied—evil, sin, and death are being defeated.”
Now I don’t want to minimize the pain in our trials. We will still feel pain. The days, weeks, and months following Destiny’s death overwhelmed me with deep sadness and grief. But what if, in our darkest moments, instead of accusing God of injustice, of being unloving, or of abandoning us, we chose to believe what the Bible says about who God is? Then, even in the darkest nights and the most incredible pain, we can instead choose to be comforted by his love and find rest in our God who is always doing good for us.
I may never understand how it could be loving of God to take away my 3-month old baby – but if I choose to interpret the circumstance through God’s love, I can believe that even in this sorrow, God had a much higher purpose for what he is doing than I can see.