Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grieving the Loss; Rejoicing in Christ

As I type this, we have just recently received good news, and then bad news. The good news came last Thursday night. My wife took a test at home that told us we were having our third child. This was a complete surprise to us. We hadn't planned on having a child at this time. However, we were overjoyed that the Lord had seen fit to grant us this blessing. However, on Monday morning that good news turned bad as I took my wife to the ER. We were soon told what we already knew, which was that the baby was gone. There were many emotions going on through that time, but I want to get to that in just a moment.

In the meantime, between the good and the bad news, I began preaching through the book of James with my church. The first sermon was James 1:1-4. In that text James says something that sounds good, but is very difficult to do. In verse two he writes, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." I would love to say that when I meet trials of various kinds (some simple, everyday trials, others extremely difficult trials) that I do so joyfully. That is simply not the case often times. As I preached this sermon, however, I stated that trials were coming and we ought to prepare now for how we will face those trials. Little did I know that we were going to face a very difficult trial in less than 24 hours.

As I preached this text, I found myself thinking deeply about how I reacted through a tough trial a few years ago. It wasn't the loss of a baby, but it was still difficult. When I look back I do not think I counted it as joy. I do not think I was able to see the hand of God working through that trial at the time. I had friends who tried to point me to Christ through that time, but I do not think I listened well at all. This time I wanted it to be different. Based on my evening sermon from James 1:5-8 I prayed that the Lord would grant me wisdom through the trials that were to come. I believe He answered that prayer. However, back to the morning text, I stated in my sermon that the way in which we may face trials with joy is based on verses 3-4, "for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Perhaps my main emphasis from this was that God is not unaware of your trials. He is very aware and is still true to His promise that He will never leave nor forsake those who are His. And not only is He aware, and with those who are His, but He means to accomplish something through each and every trial. He means to complete something in our lives that will enable us to be more like Christ. He means to draw us to Him through the trials. So I stated that the only way we can face trials of various kinds joyfully is to know and truly believe that He is accomplishing something for our good and for His glory through every trial.

When 3:00 Monday morning came around, I was about to take my wife to the ER. I was afraid for my wife. I was afraid for my baby. But at the same time the Holy Spirit was gracious and brought to my mind what I had just preached the day before. I began immediately meditating on this text and the truth of what was said. When the news came that we had lost the baby, I began to grieve. I never knew what thousands of women/couples had gone through with a miscarriage. It's not easy. It's heart breaking. It's devastating. However, God is faithful.

Through the trial of that morning, and the few days that have come since, I have found myself at times crying in grief over the loss of my child. I have found myself extremely concerned for the health of my wife. But I've also been overjoyed in the midst of grief that the Lord has been with us. He is accomplishing something great through this trial. He is drawing my wife and I ever closer to Him. He is truly good and turns all things for good for those who belong to Him. I think, perhaps, I've finally felt what Paul did when he wrote that he was sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. We grieve the loss, but we rejoice in Christ.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. The Lord is faithful and good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Update Overdue

It has been a long time since I last updated this blog. I thought it would be appropriate to let you know that it's not because I do not desire to blog, but because I have been unbelievably busy over the past several weeks. Let me give you a quick snap shot at what I mean:

Tuesday Evening, Aug. 31 - Loaded up the U-Haul (after the 'professional' moving company failed to show up for the second day!), with help from several friends in Pulaski, VA. Left our house around 9:30 PM and drove to Matthews, NC to stay one night with my family.

Wednesday, Sept. 1 - Drove the U-Haul 700 miles, pulling my car behind on a dolly, having a tire blow out on the dolly, and finally arriving in Fort Myers, FL around 11:15 PM.

Thursday-Friday, Sept. 2-3 - Drove around with my chairman of deacons looking for a house all over Cape Coral and Fort Myers.

Saturday, Sept. 4 - With the help of new friends we unloaded the U-Haul and put everything in storage.

Sunday, Sept. 5 - I had the great honor of preaching at my new church, Cypress Lake Baptist Church.

Monday, Sept. 6 - Went to the airport to fly to NC to see/pick-up my family. We had a great day visiting my grandmother and my mom's side of the family. However, my 5 year old daughter fell off a foot stool on the front porch at my grandmother's house and broke both bones in her arm just above her wrist.

Tuesday, Sept. 7 - A nice, relaxing day! That evening Abigail and I went to one of my closest friend's house for a cookout.

Wednesday, Sept. 8 - We had a great time in Pageland, SC visiting my father's side of the family.

Thursday, Sept. 9 - Had family time with Shannon's side of the family, and again with my mom's side of our family.

Friday, Sept. 10 - Loaded up the van and drove to Rocky Mount, NC where we spent the weekend seeing several friends.

Sunday, Sept. 12 - I had the opportunity to preach for my good friend Justin Nale at Mount Hermon Missionary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC. Afterwards we had a cookout on the church grounds with many of the local pastors and their families. These men are dear friends of mine. It was a great blessing. Then we left, and began driving south to FL.

Monday, Sept. 13 - Drove the final 450 miles to Fort Myers. EXHAUSTED!

From that point until today we have been busy looking at houses, setting up my office, trying to settle in, and getting to know the people of Cypress Lake. When (If?) I get caught up, I will blog again. Thanks for your faithfulness in reading my blog.