The Lord Gentles Me1
I didn’t always want eight kids. I don’t know what I always wanted. I claim to have always wanted children, but my sister will adamantly disagree with that. All I know is that soon after coming to faith I had a profound sense of longing for motherhood. I met a wonderful and godly woman in my church that has eight amazing kids (better behaved than any two siblings I had ever met). I decided I wanted to be Jackie when I grew up.
My heart was filled with such joy when it became apparent that I was pregnant with a “honeymoon baby” so soon after getting married. I went to the doctor in anxious anticipation, citing my concerns about a possible miscarriage only because it seemed too good to be true. I had no need for worry as our beautiful son Steven entered this world with barely any problems.
The blessings only continued. After being away from my husband for the better part of a year, shortly after I discovered I was once again pregnant. This child was wanted. This child was loved. Two days after finding out he existed, this child was lost.
I cannot begin to tell of the pain that I experienced from this loss. My emotional suffering was punctuated by a lab technician who couldn’t find a vein and a doctor with a bedside manner that left something to be desired. After knowing him for only two days, I had a lifetime of love and excitement for his life, for the things he would do, and the person he would become. The pain of miscarriage is the pain of losing a child, perhaps not the exact same, but potent and real nonetheless.
I have never been a person who looks at the ills of the world and wonders what God is up to. It has always made sense to me that people suffer because of sin. The world is broken and painful because of the person who rules it. I have never truly understood the person who claims that they can’t be a Christian because God must be a horrible and mean dictator to allow such evil to happen to ones so “innocent.” Yet, in this experience I begin to grasp the argument of others.
How quickly hope shifts from the giver to the gift, from the creator to the created. Our circumstances, or mine at least, so often dictate our joy, faith, happiness, and hope. It is in these difficult circumstances that the Lord reminds me of his ultimate sufficiency. It reminds me of a phrase I once heard, and subsequently stole, from a man at Baptist Temple.
This man told me once about God “gentling” him. He talked to me about how God often puts us in difficult circumstances or pulls the rug out from under us. But because He is also our loving Father he is also there to catch us. Instead of falling flat on our faces in despair we are “gentled” into a deeper and more reliant relationship with Him. God is deliberately and lovingly calls us to turn our eyes toward him. I remember very clearly being in 8th grade when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy. Pre-teen girlfriends were being their typical selves and making my life miserable. I remember leaning so hard into the comforting embrace of Jesus that I could nearly feel his arms around me. That is God’s gentleness.
The despair of losing a child can only be overcome by a stronger hope. The distress of an unruly classroom can only be managed with the knowledge of a sovereign and loving Father. The desperation of a marital fight can only be dissuaded by the promises of Christ. My hope cannot lie in a pregnancy, in my job, in marriage, or in anything else that my very fickle heart wants so desperately to cling to instead of my savior. That’s the hope.
I cannot imagine such loss without this hope. The hope of this fallen world will always ultimately fail. My sinful heart continues to turn toward them, and my God continues to pull me lovingly and “gently” back toward him. This is the hope that we need to share. This is the message of Christianity. We have something more than this world has to offer. We can have joy in the midst of pain and sorrow. The world is so clouded in darkness, it’s about time that I do something about it and share the hope.