Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Have you ever been in the place where you feel like God betrayed your trust?
And if I'm being honest, it's taken me several days and a lot of time building up the courage for me to admit that, much less to publicly admit it.
I'm not that person. Or at least I didn't think I was that person. Because, intellectually, I know this could never be true. God is trustworthy (Ps. 145:13). He's incapable of betraying my trust. Yet that's how I feel.
I've been thinking since losing #4 that I've been handling it quite well. Part of that is true. And I have my family, friends, and church family to thank for that. The other part though? Well, I couldn't quite pinpoint it. I know me. And I know how I respond to things. And being emotionally withdrawn, distant and numb isn't usually how I handle things.
It wasn't until last weekend while we were on our way to the zoo that I realized what it is. We were listening to Selah's Greatest Hymns CD when Be Still My Soul came on. As many of you may know, Mark always chooses an animal for our kids and I choose a song for them. I had never chosen a song for #3 and so I chose this one for #3 and #4 prior to losing #4. I wanted, nay, desperately needed a reminder that the Lord is on my side, that I could leave to Him to order and provide. And so, I chose this song with full anticipation and hope that He would do exactly that.
I sat there listening, feeling foolish for having believed, for having trusted Him again. And the thing is, I recently wrote about refusing to live in fear - even if that makes me look foolish. Sometimes that's easier said than done.
I recall listening to the words of the song and hearing Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side and immediately thinking "No He's not, He betrayed your trust."
I was shocked.
I'm not that person.
But alas, there I was with my own thoughts and that's what was blatantly staring me in the face.
When I searched my heart for evidence to the contrary, that I didn't really believe this lie, all I kept coming up with were things that supported my belief of that statement. And I was even more alarmed.
I'm not that person. I'm not that person. I'm not that person.
Oh, but I am.
The evidence says so. Like when for days I begged God to save our sweet #3 and it drug on and on and on. Me begging Him for mercy, for a miracle. And then the answer came.
I had words with Him. I did. I remember crying out, asking "why?". And then I was done. I said what I had to say and I was done. I don't really recall ever talking to Him about it again. Now almost 2 years later I'm in that place again. And once again, I found myself in the shower floor begging Him for mercy, for a miracle, for it not to be so.
And in the same pattern, I've yet to talk to Him again about #4. I've yet to ask Him for anything on my behalf. And when I asked myself "Why?" there came another startling thought "Because He'll answer requests for other people, just not you."
I trusted You, Father. I told you I couldn't do this again. You said to ask (Matt. 7:7). You said You'd give me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4). You said. You said. You said. I don't understand.
"Be still, Phoebe." came the reply.
It's the same reply I've been hearing every since that day.
"Be still, Phoebe."
On days when I get ready, plaster on a fake smile and hope that my mascara and lip gloss won't sell me out, I hear Him:
"Be still, Phoebe."
I hear Him ever so faintly. He knows the wretched lies I've believed and He still loves me enough to speak to me.
I shared these thoughts with my friend, Michele. Sidebar: Let me just say how great she is about helping me work through the madness in this head of mine.... without judging me for it. Everyone needs a friend like her. But I digress. Her replies are always so timely. "Why don't you ask our small group for prayer?" "One word that keeps coming to mind over and over again is pride". "He knows your heart no matter if you admit it or not. I believe that He will indeed put more on us than we can bear...so that we have to have total dependence on Him. 2 Cor 1:8-9 (do refer to it)!!" And oh how I love her for it. It was through her encouragement that I was able to get downright honest with myself.
This happened in a conversation with my husband one night before bed. And if you're like me, it's one thing to type an e-mail, it's quite another to verbally admit you've believed a lie. But alas, that's just what I did.... after spending a few minutes working up the courage to do so. And it began with the most blatant question ever:
"Do you ever feel like God has betrayed your trust?"
If you know Mark, you've got to love his answers. His take on life is one I wish I had. Very little gets to him or shakes his faith and understanding of Christ. I love that about him. But if I'm being honest, there are times I just want him to wallow around in self pity with me. This was one of those times. I needed affirmation that I wasn't alone in feeling like this. But that's not what I got.
Instead, this was his reply:
"You can feel like God has betrayed your trust all the while knowing that He's incapable of doing so. Joseph probably felt like God had abandoned and betrayed him."
Ah yes. Joseph. The-dreamer-favored-son-of-Jacob, sold-into-slavery-by-his-brothers (Gen. 37), falsely-accused-of-trying-to-rape-his-master's-wife (Gen. 39), thrown-into-jail Joseph.
I could see where He might think that (not saying he did).
Yet what I love about this story is that Joseph didn't yet know what God knew. We often hold a few puzzle pieces in our hand thinking they'll never come together to form anything of use. Oh but it never works that way does it? So many times I've sat there with a few scraggly pieces wondering what would ever come of them and now years down the road I can look back and see the pieces coming together.
I wish I always had that perspective.
That perspective holds on to the promise that God has plans to prosper me, not to harm me, to give me a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).
As did He with Joseph. In case you're not familiar with the story, Joseph's dream interpreting landed him a job interpreting dreams for Pharaoh. He eventually became Pharaoh's right hand man, 2nd only to Pharaoh. He prevented Egypt from being destroyed during the 7 yr. famine, which consequently also brought him back together and reconciled with his brothers (yeah, the ones who sold him into slavery) and his dad.
Now that's a story!
As is mine.
Oftentimes, I think we look at Bible stories and see them as that - stories. We see the people in them as characters instead of as human beings that were just like me and you. I love it when that realization hits me. That God has a story for me too, one in which I may not understand until years down the road, possibly not even until eternity. But there's a story there indeed.
But as much as I'd like to say that was my initial reaction - it wasn't.
My response came in the form of a pause, followed by "But He said ask (Matt. 7:7). He said be fruitful and multiply (pretty much every chpt in Genesis). He said children are a heritage and reward, that blessed is the man who's quiver is full of them (Ps. 127:3-5). He said He'd give me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4)."
Again, Mark's reply pierced my heart with truth I needed to hear.
"You should seek Him so much that your desires are His desires."
His desires for my life should be my desires.
That's difficult for me. It's difficult for me to be okay with losing not one, but two babies. Two babies that I can tell you off the top of my head would be 15 months old and about 11 weeks gestation. Two babies that I had hopes and dreams for. Plans to choose their song and actually be able to sing it to them while rocking them back to sleep. Two babies that I wanted to take pictures of and whose boo boos I wanted to kiss. Two babies I wanted to hold and be in awe of standing over their cribs watching them sleep. Two babies I don't have and won't see this side of Heaven.
That's hard for me.
But just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not true. Because it is. My desires should be the same as His. And although there are days I feel I'm inwardly melting away while outwardly I go about my days as normal, He's there. With me. Behind me. Beside me. In front of me.
He's already gone before me (Deut. 31:8). Nothing has caught Him off guard because He's already been where we're going. I find that comforting. He's been where I am and in some way I picture Him clearing the path ahead. Although it may be bumpy, hilly, and curvy that He's been there preparing it for me, providing and protecting along the way.
That's also been hard for me. It's hard, in the moment, to feel that God is protecting me amidst not only the emotional aspect of losing our babies, but the physical part as well. But that's just what He's done. He's been there, protecting me. Looking out for my health and safety.
In so many ways, He's protected me. By not allowing my tube to rupture, by allowing our baby to have died naturally so no decision was necessary, to have given us a church family that came around us and prayed for us.
He's been there all along, as He still is, quietly whispering:
"Be still, Phoebe."
To be honest, a couple days ago I e-mailed my friend telling her that's all I keep hearing and ended the e-mail with "What does that even mean?" Her reply?
"He's there. Be still...and He will reveal what you need to know, when you need to know it."
And indeed He has. It actually came to me tonight during our life group. One of the verses we were looking at was Hosea 6:1.
Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
You know those moments where you're almost speechless, lump in throat, light bulb on moments? This was one of them.
Return to the Lord.
Indeed, that is necessary. I'm not naive enough to think that it's not possible for me to distance myself from Him out of hurt. I know that to be true.
But I will return to Him... always.
Because although He has torn me to pieces and injured me, He is faithful. He can be trusted.
"Be still, Phoebe. Return to me. Trust Me to heal you and bind your wounds."
And so I will.
Whatever the storms of life may bring, my hope and prayer is that I will always be able to just be still and know that He is God (Ps. 46:10) and that He truly is on my side.
I leave you with my favorite version of #3 and #4's song, Be Still my Soul, performed by David Archuleta. May you, despite what life is throwing at you, be able to be still and rest in His goodness.