My granny has always played such an important part of my life. I have always sought her out for all kinds of advice...whether it be how to throw a swanky dinner party, to how it is that she can make up a bed and the sheets not have a single wrinkle. But, one of the main things she has taught me is how to trust in Jesus when times are shaky and your world is crumbling all around you.
4 years ago today, we sat in a doctors office and looked at a sonogram machine that told us, "your baby is not compatible with life." Those words still haunt me to this day. In the days that followed, my mother (the ultimate example of strength) and my grandmother came and stayed with me. It was such a foggy time. I don't have too many memories of that time period, but the few that I do have consisted of sitting on the couch with my Bible open (I'm not sure if I actually read it, but it was there, like a security blanket, as if I was clinging to Jesus himself) , and listening to my mother play hymns on the piano in the living room. I also remember a slew of people coming in and out offering food, prayer etc. I specifically remember one elder from our church sitting down beside my bed on the floor and looking me square in the eyes and telling me quite sternly, 'You will get through this. He will not leave you. " I remember feeling physically ill, and realizing after two days that I had not drank but maybe 8oz. of liquid. My body just shut down and trauma set in.
During the time that my grandmother was here, she constantly spoke words of truth to my aching heart. "Aimee, now honey, you gotta get up off this couch. You got a life to live. These two babies need their mama. You can't give up. " And she spoke from a woman who knows just how important it is to not give up on life. To not just sit down and let despair and grief consume you.
It was a typical hot, balmy summer day in the small southern Mississippi town known as Shuqualak (pronounced Shu-guh-lock). The year was 1960. And while my granny was standing in her kitchen, she looked out the window over the kitchen sink and she saw her eldest son, Jimmy, come to a crashing halt on his bike. A child who was considered "healthy" in every way, was pronounced dead at the mere age of 12.
Just like that. He was gone. Her very handsome, blue eyed boy. Gone.
Come to find out, he suffered from an unknown heart condition.
As you can imagine, the days that followed were of deep sadness, and to this day, my granny can barely speak of them. My mother was six, but still recalls the depths of grief that swept over that small Mississippi town. I have gathered bits and pieces of information about the events that followed, such as his little body laying at rest inside the family home....and I envision what my granny must have looked like as she sat by his casket day in and day out drowning in her grief.....in her own home, the home that just days before was full of life and laughter. It was a dark, dark time...a real, living nightmare.
And so began, my grandmother's long journey of how to go on and continue living life for her husband and two other children that remained. She gives all credit to the Lord. She says, "without Him, I would have never survived." It is without question, that it was this single event that brought her into a deeper, more passionate relationship with her almighty Creator.
Just this last week during a soccer practice, my little boy, (who happens to be a spit image of Jimmy) complained of chest pains. And yeah, I let my mind go there. That deep, dark yucky place where Satan can twist things and make you feel weak with fear. I was in an utter panic. All I could think of was Jimmy. And now our child has some unknown heart condition. We took him to see the pediatrician two days later and after giving our family history, Noah was scheduled for an EEG and EKG the following morning.
We waited all weekend on the results, all the while praying.... "Lord, may your sovereign will be done. For we know that all good gifts are from you...even the trials and pain are good gifts from you, so whatever you have for our son, we will graciously accept as your plan."
Was that easy to pray?
I wanted to pray or spout off something along the lines of, "God, I have had enough pain. Don't let something be wrong with another one of my children. It's not fair if you do. I've served my time. "
Somehow, I think that because I have suffered greatly in the past, that I am now exempt from any future suffering. What a stupid thought. And in all honesty, do I truly want my life to be free from the pain that draws me into His arms?
As I read through James chapter 1 this week, I was encouraged to see that suffering and various trials are to be counted as joy...because it is through these trials that God burns away the dross of false faith(presumption) and we are made to stand firm (steadfast). It is through the steadfastness, that we are justified and sanctified (perfect and complete). In verse 4, it says that if we lack wisdom to ask God for it. This "wisdom" is the knowledge that is proven through life's experiences. God wants to give us the life experiences that proves our faith and this is done through various trials we encounter.
So much is learned through suffering. And it's hard for me to get to a point where I can count it as joy. But, there have been times, when I have looked back to previous hurts and thanked God for drawing me to Himself and stripping away the filth that consumed my heart.
So, am I saying we should sit around and ask God for cancer? or for our children to become ill? to lose our job? for our marriages to crumble? No. But, I do know that in God's almighty sovereign plan, he ordains specific experiences, and sometimes they are painful and they hurt. And we don't like it. At all. But, as God's children, we can trust that all His gifts are good and perfect. And because He loves us so, He allows our tough experiences to strip away false faith or presumptuous faith. So we can count it as JOY. He is working in our lives. He is pursuing our hearts. He is making us more like Him. He in control of all of life's circumstances and we can find so much peace and hope in that truth.
So...yesterday, on a day full of a lot of sad memories, a day when we remembered our daughter who is now resting in His arms, we received the happy news that Noah's heart looks to be in perfect condition.
We rejoiced. And we are so, so very thankful.
May we continue to rejoice in Him, the Father of all good and perfect gifts. And may we glorify Him in all of life's circumstances, good or bad.