One of my favorite things about a blog like this is I get to learn from other mothers, hear their stories, and see how God is moving in their lives. Like everyone else, I have my own story to tell. I would like to share some of it and the lessons I have learned about how we can find joy in our trials – even when motherhood breaks our hearts.
From the moment I learned I was going to be a mother, ideas of what our precious bundle of joy would be like flooded my mind. I had dreams of our future, and they were very good!
However, my dreams came crashing down after one bad ultrasound when we were told our precious daughter would be born without a left arm or right leg. I wept. I grieved. And then, I wept some more.
The pregnancy was long and tedious, but eventually our beautiful daughter Eve was born. While physically disabled, she was otherwise perfectly healthy.
Our lives were rocked to the core again two and a half years later when we learned our seemingly healthy new baby girl, Felicity, contracted a virus in the womb, which attacked her brain and left significant, permanent damage. We call her “baby Lissy,” and she really enjoys laughing and smiling. For the next few years we’re asking God to allow baby Lissy’s brain to develop beyond the doctors’ expectations.
There are times in our lives, especially as mothers, in which we experience grief that knows no limits – it cannot be described or explained. We grieve from depths we did not know existed inside us before. During those times of darkness, the exhortation of James 1 seems absolutely impossible. How can I find any joy in the midst of such trials?
Through the experiences I’ve had with my daughters, I have learned two very important lessons that have changed the way I “count it as all joy” when facing trials. These are lessons I hope to pass on to my daughters someday.
First, I’ve learned the importance of grieving.
Although this may sound simple, please hear me. When we are faced with impossibly difficult trials in our lives, it is essential we allow ourselves time to grieve. Before making a game plan, before deciding what the “next step” will be, take time, and just grieve.
With both of my daughters, only after truly allowing myself to grieve was I able to experience true intimacy with Christ. When you allow yourself to grieve, you are able to appreciate the depth and richness of Paul’s words in Romans 8:26:
“…The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…”
When your mother’s heart experiences sorrow, run to God.
In your weakness, allow the Spirit to put meaning and significance into your pain. He will take it to the Father for you. The intimacy with God that grieving in the Spirit creates is what will give you strength to continue on.
Second, I have come to realize the presence of sorrow doesn’t exclude the presence of great joy.
A friend of mine (who has also grieved significantly for her babies) phrased this best when she reminded me in the midst of my most recent grieving that “heartache and joy are not mutually exclusive.” When we experience trials, our sorrow takes us to deep places emotionally that really didn’t exist before. Grieving in the Spirit enables us to experience unimaginable joy, peace, and hope! What happened to my girls is truly tragic, but the joys we have experienced because of their disabilities have been immeasurable. I cannot imagine life without the joy and laughter my girls’ victories and accomplishments have added to our lives! Through our family’s trials, we have become utterly dependent upon God. But, that has also allowed us to join David proclaiming boldly:
“…in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalms 16:11
So, while we may never stop grieving for our children, it doesn’t mean there is not joy. Rather, it means we allow the joy of the Lord to be our strength.
Only when His joy becomes our strength are we able to “count it all joy,” because joy is no longer dependent on the situation, but only on His presence!
When I knelt before God with grief too deep for words, I did not know I would find joy. I simply needed to be close to God and have the Spirit speak for me when grief left me speechless.
In the depths of God’s grace, which He gives to all Christians, I was given joy in sorrow.
*We are so thankful our contributors are willing to share their pain and the realities of their lives, as well as how the Lord is bringing beauty from their ashes. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). May we, as missional mothers, spur one another on, walk together through the inevitable trials of life, grieve with one another, rejoice with one another, and pray to the Father on behalf of our sisters. Do you have a trial or sorrow you are facing currently? May we pray with you? You can share via the comment section below, or send a confidential e-mail to our team by visiting the “Contact” page.