Sufficient: grace that holds up in our hardship

“…We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.”

2 Corinthians 4:8

It’s been weeks of processing, crying, need-meeting, trying to adjust my expectations, feeling how up-in-the-air our lives are, and wondering when we will ever feel settled again. I feel absolutely spent. I have been thrust into a plot line I would never, ever choose. 

Our church had a parent commissioning for families with new babies a few weeks ago, and I sat in a room full of beaming couples with their healthy, beautiful babies – safe and sound and whole…and my broken one. My precious, tiny son with his brain cysts and spina bifida and swollen ventricles and cerebellum gaps and a shaky future full of scary possibilities. I was heartbroken for him.

For weeks, I have been crying out to the Lord for joy that overflows and peace that passes understanding and strength that overcomes this awful situation. I’ve been searching his word for guidance for how to walk through this. I’ve been reaching for a hope that touches my grief. I know there’s nowhere else to turn. I know that the Bible is precious and life-giving. But this is painful at a level that its promises don’t seem to touch. I look at them and I repeat them and I remember that God is working things for good and that, in eternity, everything will be healed and whole, but my baby hadn’t even made it 20 days from his first breath and he was back in the hospital. We’d had just 5 weeks of newborn snuggles when we started discussions on which brain surgery would be best for him. We had held on with all our might through this pregnancy. Little did we know how we would struggle on the other side of it. 

I climb into bed each night so relieved that I’ll be unconscious soon and I lay in bed each morning, trying to rally for another day in a story I don’t want to be living. I have no control here. Not over this. This is not something I can study for or work hard enough to fix. In a moment, it didn’t matter what I had wanted my life to look like. It rearranged itself around a new priority, and I watched, helpless as the pieces fell into place for a role where my training didn’t apply and my desires didn’t matter.

This is do-what-needs-to-be-done territory. This is a hold-our-whole-lives-before-the-Lord season, because we are helpless here, and all we can do is look to Him. We are discouraged, and fighting to cling to our hope. We are weary, and we are learning what hard work it is to do the good God has set before us and not lose heart – to be content with the good He has set before us in place of the good we had in mind. To trust in our disappointment that He is our helper and that He has not abandoned us. We are fighting a battle with our own hearts to entrust our baby and our story to Him.

Here is what I’m working to remember:

I have no control, but the One who has all the control is very good, and He loves Benaiah very much. He is for us. He has planned good things for us since long ago. Our lives are his masterpiece, not the jumbled, broken wreck it feels like at the moment. We are confused, but He is faithfully ordering our steps. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Benaiah has some things that didn’t form well, but who he is was formed with great care. God not only created the temporary body, He crafted the precious, eternal soul living in it. Benaiah is more than just his body and his brokenness. With all that needs treatment, yet he is wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

Peace that guards my heart and mind comes in proportion to my choice to fix my thoughts on the Lord, cast my cares on Him, and refuse to worry. His peace doesn’t fall short, but I do fall short of stepping into it. I am begging Him to help me here. To help me to fight the temptation to back away from Him in my disappointment, confusion, frustration and fear. He is ready to hold me, guard me, comfort me, and walk me through this if I will throw myself and my troubles onto Him, whole-heartedly trusting his faithfulness and his care for me. (Isaiah 26:3-4

Oh Lord, 

We are looking at this unexpected season before us and asking you for help. We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you. 

I believe this next year can be full of your grace. Your grace for all the appointments. Your grace in the surgeons and doctors you provide to care for Benaiah. Your grace over his surgery and procedures. Your grace for parenting and marriage, even out of our brokenness. Your grace in orchestrating a way for us to serve that is a good fit, here and now. Your grace at work in our hearts to teach us to trust you, to endure, and to be satisfied in you through the waiting. Your grace to keep hoping you will make a way for Cody to fly again. Your grace in our relationships. Your grace for all we’ve lost and left behind.

Your grace will be sufficient for us. And this year, I believe we’ll see it again and again and again. Lord, give us the eyes to recognize your grace in the hardship. Help our hearts to find your peace as we gaze at who you are. Teach us to trust you when we feel perplexed, that our hearts may face each next moment with courage. When we cling to you, we will not be driven to despair. You’re worthy of our trust. Lord, help our unbelief.

Shaky Feet, Steady Ground: understanding and mercy when my best isn’t enough

For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest…let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.

-Hebrews 4:10-11, 14-15

Oh Lord, help me today to do my best to enter your rest. Help my heart to trust that your work at the cross is complete, just as your work of creation was complete, and so you have invited me to rest with a clear conscience.

It occurred to me this morning that Jesus faced the test of starvation. My High Priest can have informed understanding and compassion on hyperemesis moms. He gives mercy in our weaknesses. He can guide us to success and victory and hope. I beg for that.

We’re still working on getting the Zofran pump dose dialed in so that I’m not losing my meals. I’m having irritation all over. At every site that the needles have transferred medication, I have red, raised, painful welts. I don’t have that much of a baby bump at only 17 weeks, but I’m already finding creative ways to avoid bending because of these angry, swollen spots all over my abdomen.

It’s challenging to hold my wiggly son close. I’m so thankful for the pump…and I’m having a hard time adjusting to it. Tears of relief and overwhelm threaten at the same time.

Oh Lord, be bigger in my heart this morning than the 23 weeks I have left.

Thank you for the gentle language of “do my best” in the sentence that calls me to enter your rest. Thank you that I can humbly confess I do not excel at this. Thank you that you are merciful and gracious in my need, in my struggle, in my suffering, in my testing, when my best isn’t enough.

You lift my shaky feet to steady ground and lead me to your rest.


Yet I Want Your Will: 5 words to hold onto when I do not like the plan

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

-Mark 14:36

Lord, may I learn to decide on these two things:

1. Everything is possible for you.
2. Yet, I want your will.

When things aren’t going my way, may I not falter over whether my problems matter to you or if this is just too complicated or challenging or huge for you to change. You are able and willing on my behalf.

When I consider what I have walked through and what I am facing and it just seems like a bad plan, like meaningless suffering, like aimless wilderness; in the face of brokenness and all that I don’t understand, may I come back to this:

“Yet I want your will.”

Obviously, there’s a part of me that doesn’t. There’s a part of me that wants to skip past the struggle. There’s an urge to take over that rises to the surface when I feel passed over, unimportant, uncomfortable and afraid. But when I consider all the stories you have stepped into and the ways you have worked on behalf of those who trusted you, your plan is what I want. 

So, Lord, help me to remember. Strengthen my heart to wait. Those who have waited through difficulty to see what you would bring on the other side of it have not been disappointed. 

Those who have gazed at all the wealth and luxury and trappings that this world has to offer and then chosen to lay them down and go after you have not been disappointed.

This hope does not disappoint. 

Even Jesus took a long, hard look at what the Father had planned for him and was daunted. But the One who decided, “Yet I want your will,” died and came back from death and rescued those beyond rescue and stands in triumph now.

Saying yes to you is always, always worth what it costs.

So may I walk in his pattern, humble myself when I do not like the plan, and learn these five words by heart:

“Yet I want your will.”

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”

Philippians 3:8