We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body2 Corinthians 4:8-10
From an early age God showed me my need for His salvation. Although I sometimes stumbled in my teen years, He was faithful and patient with me, willing to forgive and set me back on His path. In following Jesus, I have learned many lessons, including a better understanding of His will and what being obedient to His call looks like. At times, God’s will is perfectly clear, like when He called my husband and I to teach in Bolivia in 2011. Other times, circumstances in life made it harder to understand His way for us.
Two years ago, I was pregnant with our third son Benjamin. A week before his due date I discovered that his heart had stopped beating. It was truly my worst nightmare as a mother—to deliver a stillborn baby. The months that followed were full of grief and pain. Until then, I had never really understood sorrow and suffering. Benjamin’s death raised many questions and sent me on a search to find answers. I do not believe God allowed him to die in order to teach me these lessons, but as a result of his death I have come to two significant conclusions. The first is that choosing to trust God despite our circumstances is the only good choice. The other alternative is to wallow in bitterness and despair. Trusting God in hard times is not easy, but we can choose to believe that God still loves us, is still the same, and will continue to be faithful. I also learned that as beings created in God’s image, we have the capacity to experience opposing emotions simultaneously: joy and sorrow, hope and despair, peace and pain. Jesus Himself demonstrated this in His death on the cross. Isaac Watts summed it up beautifully in the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” where he wrote of Jesus, “See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
The reality is that suffering is a part of our human existence. We cannot escape it because we live in a fallen world. As children of God we have the privilege to continue to bring Him glory, and to comfort others with the comfort we receive from Him.