I tried to swallow the fear that surged within me, but I couldn’t keep it down. I desperately wanted to believe it was nothing, but this hadn’t happened to me before and I was already well into the second trimester.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I was slowly eaten alive by the dread that my own internal turmoil and spiritual confusion was harming my baby. I continued my pitiful attempts to plea bargain with the Creator of the Universe and my child.
I swung from accusatory anger, “This isn’t what I meant, God, and you know it.” to desperate cries for mercy, “Oh please, God, not this. I want this baby. I really do. And if it has to be this, then not here. Let me go home first. And if it has to be here, please let it not be now—not today. I want to spend the day celebrating with my family like we’d planned.”
That’s what I begged of God in the dark of night.
He answered every one with a resounding, “NO.”
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#surrender”]Not this. Not here. Not now. That’s what I begged of God in the dark of night.[/tweetthis]
Early the next morning, I told my husband what was going on. He placed his hand on my belly and prayed for me and our baby. As he was concluding his prayer with, “Lord, we surrender this child to you”, my water broke.
I immediately ran to the bathroom where our tiny baby’s body was born less than a minute later. His precious spirit was already with Jesus. “It’s a boy” was the first thing I remember saying. Everything after that is a blur.
I remember sobbing on my husband’s shoulder while holding our lifeless baby. I have never heard myself cry like that before or since. It did not even sound human to me. It did not sound like me at all.
We named our son Timothy.
I found myself struggling to say, “Not my will, but Yours, O Lord” all over again. This second surrender was even more difficult and much more painful than the first.
I felt betrayed. I had done my best to say, “Thy will be done”—clumsily and falteringly, yes; but I had obeyed. I even briefly touched the place of joyful surrender where I rested trustingly in His embrace.
I had finally come to a place of peace with His will for my life and then He asked me to surrender all over again. Only this time, He didn’t ask gently. He tore my baby from my body suddenly and without warning and from where I sat, without mercy.
That was the day I crossed the threshold into the darkest season of my life as I began a daily war with depression and anxiety.
WRECKED FOR GOOD
My battle back to the light has been a long and difficult journey and there are still plenty of days I fumble and fall short, but the foundation of my faith is stronger than before. My experience rocked me to my core and forced me to realize I had built my faith on the flimsy foundation of God staying predictable, answering my prayers the way I thought He should, and rewarding me immediately for my obedience.
Instead, now my faith is being built on the fact that God is exactly who He says He is every day in every circumstance, whether I can feel it or not and whether I understand what He’s doing or not.
Looking back over the years since that dark day, I can honestly say I am wholly and completely blessed. I am not only blessed beyond my mess, I am blessed beyond my pain, beyond my confusion, beyond my loss, beyond my mistakes, and far beyond what I can even begin to put my arms around.
I didn’t recognize God’s gifts at the time because they often come wrapped in unexpected ways, much like a Mighty Savior who came to us wrapped in a baby blanket. God is the Master of the unexpected miracle.
See also: More Than We Can Imagine
We often find what we seek. If we look for reasons to distrust God and doubt His love or make excuses for our disobedience, we will probably find plenty. The reverse is equally true. When we look for the beauty in our mess, the peace in our chaos, the joy in our journey, the purpose in our pain, and God’s loving presence in our lives—we will find it (Mt 7:7).
When I lost my son, I was utterly wrecked. I thought my pain was unredeemable and my life would be undone forever. Now I can see that roses have gradually grown up from the ashes of despair.
I realize that God wrecked me, not to destroy me, but to bless me. I have been wrecked for good.
[tweetthis]I realize that God wrecked me, not to destroy me, but to bless me. I have been wrecked for good.[/tweetthis]
WORTH THE CLIMB
Having come out the other side of a trauma I thought would end me, my message to you is this: God is faithful, even when we are not.
When I was too weak to hold on to God any longer, I discovered that He still held me. Though I felt alone, He was always near. He acknowledged and saved every tear that fell from my shattered heart (Ps 56:8, NLT).
We went on to have three more children after Timmy and each of them has a beautiful story of their own. I hope to share these with you someday as well.
A day never passes that my husband and I are not overwhelmed with thanksgiving for the privilege of having these amazing people in our lives. We can not even begin to imagine our life without a single one of them.
We have no regrets that we stepped aside and allowed God to work His will in and through us. It’s not easy, but the most worthwhile endeavors never are.
I have a new perspective now that I have climbed further up the mountain. I haven’t reached the summit yet, but in many ways, I am finally above the tree line and able to appreciate and enjoy more of the magnificent view. If you are still deeper in the valleys, let me assure you that the view is worth the effort of the climb.
I have never felt sufficient for the challenge. I feel woefully inadequate because I truly am. But God hasn’t called me to be sufficient or adequate. He’s called me to depend on Him who is my Lord Almighty, my all-sufficient El Shaddai.
It’s humbling and sweet when God uses our children to teach us what we should already know. Timmy taught me that every single life is infinitely precious. I knew that before, but now I KNOW it. I feel it in every fiber of my being. Heaven is also much sweeter to me because my son lives there.
See also: Stay in Heaven
The blessings I am able to identify now are only the tip of the iceberg. I am confident in far greater riches beyond my comprehension in the life to come. Like a pebble tossed into a pond, we have no way of knowing how far reaching the ripples of our obedience will extend.
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#trustgod”]we have no way of knowing how far reaching the ripples of our obedience will extend.[/tweetthis]
Only God Himself knows the full extent. It is impossible for us to calculate the total impact of our surrender to God’s will, not just for those who share our world now, but for future generations as well.
Consider Ruth whose obedience placed her in the lineage of King David and Jesus.
Or Sarah, who attempted to fulfill God’s promise with her own scheme. The family conflict resulting from her lack of trust rages on even today.
And Mary, whose response, “Let it be unto me as you say, Lord” resulted in the birth of our Savior.
Clearly, our response to God’s call upon us has far-reaching ramifications for generations to come.
[tweetthis]Our response to God’s call upon us has far-reaching ramifications for generations to come.[/tweetthis]
A REASON TO WRITE
Much of what I write was planted in my heart as tiny seeds during this season of my life. My dark places and my subsequent struggle back to the light birthed the message of my first book Stand Strong: Your Battle Plan for Living Undefeated with Unshakable Faith. You can read more about that here and also here.
If I’m blessed enough to have the opportunity to write a second book, I will write the whole story of Timmy’s life and death. It will be called Beauty for Ashes: How I Rediscovered God When I Lost My Son.
Everything I write is from the perspective of looking through the lens I wear because of my experience with God working through my son, Timothy. His brief life as permanently colored the way I view God’s work in my life.
In the meantime, I will continue to share God’s truth through my story here on this blog. I have so much more I want to tell you—so many nuggets I want to share with you so that you know beyond all doubt that you are never alone, always treasured, always held, and never abandoned no matter what road you are walking.
A PURPOSE IN THE PAIN
I still don’t understand why all this happened, and I probably never will, but I am finally learning to let go of my need to know why. I trust that God has a purpose in my pain and He will not allow anything I give over to Him to go wasted or unredeemed.
[tweetthis]God has a purpose in my pain. He will not allow anything I give Him to go wasted or unredeemed.[/tweetthis]
Perhaps part of His purpose is for you. Maybe I can encourage you to overcome your struggles to answer God’s call.
- Have you heard a call from God or His gentle nudge that sounds difficult and scary and beyond your capability?
- Maybe you are struggling to step out into the great unknown, wrestling with doubts, reluctant to trust a God you can’t see.
- Have you ever examined your own inadequacy and wondered if God will really step in and cover all the gaps?
Don’t be afraid to surrender to a God who is powerful enough to hold the stars in place and loves you enough to give His life for you. There is no need to fear or resist His will. His heart is for us. God will meet you when you step out in faith. If He allows you to fall, it’s only so you will learn to fly.
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#surrender #trustgod”]If God allows you to fall, it’s only so you will learn to fly.[/tweetthis]
In the end, you won’t regret following the Lover and the Master of your soul wherever He chooses to lead you. He has not promised our obedience will be easy or pain-free, but He has promised He will never leave us and He will work it all out for good in the end.
God is always worthy of our trust regardless of any experiences, or lies, or misunderstandings that try to convince us otherwise. Just because we are obedient to God doesn’t mean life will fall effortlessly into place. God’s will can not always be understood. And I’m finally okay with that.
I believe that if it were possible for me to know and understand everything God does, I would willingly choose exactly what He has chosen for me.
The death of my son, Timothy has changed me forever and I am better for it. My suffering led me to a dark and messy place, but my struggle has also made me stronger. Life is far from perfect, yet as I hold God’s hand and survey the landscape through the eyes of faith, I can wholeheartedly say I am blessed beyond the mess because Jesus is the Light of my life.
“Never Been a Moment” by Micah Tyler
But wait, there’s more! See all the free printables to add to your prayer guide here.
Elizabeth is a military spouse, veteran, and mother of eight. Above and beyond caring for her family, her mission is to offer words that sustain weary moms and to empower and equip them to live and parent with purpose.