Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Embers

I have previously written about some dark periods in my life. Times when pain, fear, confusion and uncertainty were the emotions that exerted control over my thoughts, and as a consequence, over my life.

Even after I became a Christian, my negative experiences, and my perception of those experiences continued to color my view of life, and as a consequence, my belief in God. The thought of God being gentle and compassionate did not even register with me. That He is holy, sovereign and not to be trifled with was secure in my mind. Loving, merciful and full of grace was not my revelation of God at that time.

 This is why it is so important to read the bible along with our prayers and worship! Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true or truth. Jesus said it’s the truth we know that sets us free, with the implication that we must accept and apply the truth to our lives, even over what we feel and how things appear to be.

So, back to the dark perception part…

 I became pregnant about a year after remarrying my husband. God had healed and restored our marriage after a period of separation and divorce, and then I gave my life to Christ. Our 9 year old son was ecstatic that he was going to have a new brother or sister to go along with our newly restored family.

Life was good.

Until the darkness hit.

At week 18 of my pregnancy, all movement from the baby stopped and I felt ill. An ultrasound revealed no movement and the fetal heart monitor was heart-breakingly silent. I had to go through 4-5 hours of induced labor to deliver a still-born son that I had been certain was a blessing from God.

 I did not understand. How could this be? Had I done something wrong? Did I make God angry? Had God left me? Did I just imagine that God was real?

 All manner of sinister, doubt-filled thoughts crowded my mind. They were loud, too. They would not shut up while I numbly attempted to function during the day and they tormented me at night as I tried to sleep. I started to doubt the existence of God and lost the ability to pray verbally for a while…I could not find the strength or conviction to form the words that I hoped would be heard. The truth was I felt ignored and rejected…or worse, punished. I knew I shouldn’t have been so happy. Things were going too good.

 “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.Isaiah 42:3

reed bent by storm

 Thank God that He hears the cry of our heart. He knew I was suffering. He knew that I was confused and barely holding on. His compassion and gentleness is so great but it so often becomes obscured and rejected by us in the whirlwind of our pain and doubts.

 About 2 weeks after the loss, a social worker came to visit with us regarding my father-in-law. He was in advanced age, suffering with dementia and being fed through a stomach tube due to a ruptured esophagus. He was still mobile and able to communicate with people, he just needed a lot of medical attention.  He was receiving home healthcare and she was checking to make sure that all was going well for him.

 The social worker must have noticed my pained expression during the visit because she inquired if I was ok. I told her no and let her know about our recent loss. This beautiful woman then proceeded to gently share with me her own such loss many years earlier. As she spoke and encouraged me, I realized that God was reaching out to me through her. She was a Christian whom God had comforted and cared for during a very similar experience. She let me know it was ok to grieve and feel off, and to not be overly concerned if people didn’t know what to say to me, or how I was “supposed” to feel or act during this time. Things weren’t normal or routine and I felt awkward, self-conscious and disconnected.

 I felt better for a bit after her visit, encouraged that God was still around. Then I got hit with an incredibly fearful thought (at least it was to me at that time): What if God was mad that I had started to doubt Him? Would He leave me again? All the comfort and peace I was starting to feel departed the instant those ugly questions entered my mind.

 At this point I want to emphasize that God does NOT leave us, but I was not established in that truth yet, so doubt could play havoc with my mind. Thankfully, for whatever reason, I decided to pick up my Living Bible and start reading it. I don’t remember how the Holy Spirit led me to this scripture but He did and it was just what I needed at the time:

 “Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us and will help us, for He cannot disown us who are part of Himself, and He will always carry out His promises to us.” 2 Timothy 2:13

 I grabbed hold of that scripture and wouldn’t let it go! He wasn’t mad at me. He wasn’t going to leave me by the side of the road somewhere, spiritually speaking. And as I slowly moved forward through the pain, having good days and bad, He continued to establish me in His truth.

 He will do the same for you. He sees you, He does care. Let the truth in His word overtake any dark, doubt-filled thoughts that are trying to keep you from receiving His help today.

 Praying that God will speak the word that you need to hear. Blessings!

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