Consider it Joy
“You are just one of those people that everything just works out perfectly, aren’t you?”
I will never forget those words that were spoken to me as a young 25-year-old teacher. I had just announced that I was having a girl. I was excited because that was exactly what I wanted. There was no malice in the other teacher’s words. She was just calling it like she saw it. And I admit up to that point; things had gone relatively smoothly.
I was born into a loving family.
I married my high school sweetheart that I was crazy about.
I was hired for a teaching job as soon as I graduated with a teaching degree.
I was expecting my first baby after experiencing no issues getting pregnant.
I was having a girl- the baby I always wanted.
Sounds pretty perfect, right?
Despite extreme nausea, I moved right along in my pregnancy. Everything seemed fine. That is until the morning of September 22, 2004. I woke up with sharp pains. The pains were not in my abdomen, but in my back and especially my upper back. My husband took me to the emergency room, and Emaline Brooke was born prematurely later that day due to complications from preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
She weighed 1 pound.
Her prognosis was grim; probably wouldn’t make it through the night.
But wait, this was going against the plan. My perfect plan.
Emaline made it through the first night. I just knew she was going to beat the odds. She would be our miracle baby. We would never quit telling the story of how she was healed through our hopes and prayers. God wouldn’t let me go through all of this pain for her not to make it…
Seven excruciating days later, I held her in my arms after she had died.
Fast forward to one month shy of Emaline’s first birthday. Same hospital. Same doctors. Same prayers. Different result. I welcomed a sweet baby boy named Jonas. I was so thankful that he was going to live, and I was taking him home.
Three years later, another sweet baby boy named Jacob came into our lives. Our family was complete or as complete as it could be.
For years after the boys were born, I would repeat the mantra, “ I am so thankful and blessed for my boys.” And I was. I believed every word. I was so grateful that God had allowed me to become a mother.
But I was scared to death they would be taken from me. Life had slapped me hard, and God had allowed it. I felt fear. Irrational fear. Fear that it would happen again. Fear of losing my children. It was debilitating. I felt like I couldn’t voice this fear. Afraid of what I couldn’t control. I was so thankful, but all the while, I was holding a little tighter to them.
I lacked trust. I lacked faith. For years, I struggled with my faith. I was scared to fully trust because my prayer hadn’t been answered for Emaline. At least not in the way I wanted. I couldn’t see what I was being taught in the midst of that trial.
Faith and trust. That was my lesson. That is what God was teaching me. I was so fearful of going through any more of life’s trials that I forgot to look for what I had learned.
Trials. They are coming. You may be in the midst of one, or you may be coming through it. But they are coming. Fear and worry won’t keep them away.
Today, I have a father who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. It is advancing rapidly, and we are all a little unsure of what the future holds. This is my current trial. No amount of worry or stress will make it go away.
Recently, the pastor at my church posed this question, “How do you respond when facing trials?”
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. “
Joy in a trial? That’s a hard pill to swallow.
So often in my life, I have responded with worry or action on my part to try to fix the trial instead of trusting the Lord. The scripture also states to have joy. No, not joy in the moment, but knowing that joy will come later. After you trust. After you have faith in God’s plan for your life. God can truly use you when you depend on Him.
I did find joy again after Emaline’s death. I received two blessings, and I now had a marriage that had withstood the death of a baby. My marriage had been strengthened because of our loss. God showed me the kind of man I had married with his own example of faith and tenderness. God changed me. He softened me. He showed me that life doesn’t always go to plan, and he will be there when it doesn’t. He showed me that there are joy and blessings even after a loss.
I am still learning and changing. I am in the midst of a trial of this disease that is slowly taking my father. It is robbing us all of memories and time. I am learning to not lean on what I know or what I think is best. I am praying. Praying for my father. Praying for my mother, who is his caretaker and shouldering most of this burden. Praying for grace and peace as we navigate this disease.
1 Peter 1:6-7
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
Trials are coming. No one goes through life unscathed. It is about the choice. The choice we make when we face these trials. I am learning each day to trust and have faith. Instead of falling into despair and worry, I am trying to make that choice every day.