Joy Comes with the Mourning

 

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

When was the last time that you can say that you felt true joy? For some, it may be in the past week. For others, it may feel like it has been forever. When I wrote my book, I chose the title, “Joy Comes with the Mourning,” for a reason. I became convinced that joy is supposed to accompany pain, grief, and heartache.

Think about it. Every single person you know is either just coming out of a trial, going through a current trial, or headed for a trial in the near future. God promised that our lives would not be easy. He promised that trials would come – over and over and over again. I found myself constantly discontent, always waiting for the break between the storms. Did He really want us to live sad and defeated lives, with only flashes of joy?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. I Peter 4:12, 16, 19

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

We have two choices, when we face trials. We can succumb, or we can succeed. We can allow the difficult times to overtake us, or we can choose to live victoriously. There are several things we need to understand in order to rise above our circumstances and find joy.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:8

For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

  1. We must live in the “now.” I really like the quote that says, “Forgive me, Father…You gave me the perfect gift of ‘right now,’ and I threw it away, hoping for a better gift later.” So often, we live in the regrets of the past or in the desires of the future. We tell ourselves, “I will be happy when _______ happens, or when __________ is over.” We deprive ourselves of joyful living, because we do not think that we can possibly find joy in our current circumstances. Learn to find joy, no matter where you are, and no matter what you are going through.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Psalm 27:6

 

  1. We must focus on the appropriate goal. Our chief goal should be to become more like Christ, and to serve Him with our lives. We often tend to concentrate on what is happening around us, instead of on Who is controlling it. If we can claim the sovereignty of God, we will find true and lasting freedom. Our perspective has a lot to do with our perception. Christ is our “true north.” Keep your sight set on Him.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

  1. We must also understand the difference between “happiness” and “joy.”

Happiness is most often associated with our circumstances or experiences. Happiness comes when everything is going “right” in our world. Happiness is not a bad thing, but it must be understood that it is fleeting – it will come and go without notice. Joy, on the other hand, is based on truth – on a belief system. Instead of needing a “state of well-being,” that happiness requires, it calls for a “sense of well-being.” The difference is not in the circumstance, but in the state of mind. It’s not having everything that you want and desire, rather, it is wanting and desiring what you already have and being content with that. It is holding out hope that God’s promises are sure and that everything will work out for our good and for God’s glory. It is knowing that every circumstance and experience in our life is designed to bring us closer to God, and to mold us into Christ-likeness. As Christians, this should be our ultimate desire.” – Excerpt from “Joy Comes…,” Holly M. Besser, Perfect Joy Ministries, Copyright 2014 http://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/joy-comes/

 

  1. Be thankful! Not only when you feel like it, but also when all seems lost. Remember Who will ultimately give you the victory in this trial. His ways will never be thwarted – not by us or by anything that can happen to us. Why do you have to go through this? Even when we may not see reasons in this lifetime, the primary answer is always the same: For your good and for God’s glory…every. single. time.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6208-12-14

Original post at: http://mommieswithhope.com/2014/08/11/joy-comes-with-the-mourning/

A Fairy Tale Life

All fairy tales follow a similar plot. The central character isn’t happy with the current circumstances – Cinderella wants to go to the ball, Pinocchio wants to be a real boy, Ariel wants legs, and Goldilocks…she’s the worst! Everything is too hot, too cold, too hard, or too soft. In fairy tales, a hero saves the day and provides the deepest desires of the main character’s heart, and yup, they live “happily ever after.”

Any idea why these are called “tales?” Stories are the only place this chain of events is possible. However, we live each day as though it is possible to achieve. We live as though we can only be content when we achieve “happily ever after” status.

Recently, I asked a couple of questions in our support group, “What one word describes where you are right now? What one word describes where you want to be? How do you plan to get there?” After reading the responses, and thinking about my own responses, I wondered, “Then, what?” After we get where we want to be, “Then, what?” We live “happily ever after?” Nope. We will face more trials, more struggles, and more heartache.

Does that mean we should never strategize, never strive for better circumstances, or that we should stop hoping for redemption for what we have gone through? No, absolutely not. However, let me give you a couple things to think about.

  1. There will always be trials in this life. We will never be in a state of “perfect” in this world. We need to learn how to go from just surviving to thriving – in the midst of it. I’m not talking about wallowing in your grief or creating a victim of yourself. I’m talking about learning to take those hard times, use God’s strength to attack them head-on, and then, reflect His glory to those around you. No one expects that a Christian will have a perfect life. They just expect to see you live it differently. We all have burdens. We all have a story to share – of our past, present, and even anticipated future events.

Just this past week, I have been trying to keep moving through horrific spinal pain, an unexpected infection, poison ivy – head to toe, and several other “minor” issues. Sometimes, it just feels like everything goes wrong, but if you are a child of the King, it is all right. “Good for you” doesn’t always feel good.

Take stock of what you do have, and be thankful for it. We all have much more than we actually need. God has blessed us immensely, even in the midst of trials.

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:8

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

 

  1. Our goal should always be to become more like Christ. Anything that furthers that outcome should certainly be pursued. However, in during the pursuit of this objective, we must find contentment in the immediate place God has put us. Maybe it is a place of pain, of hurt, of frustration, of loss, of being uncomfortable. These things all work together to bring us to God’s desired place in the end. Each circumstance that we face is necessary for the molding process. Each hurt and each heartbreak is essential for our good and for God’s glory. If we cannot learn how to be content in whatever state we find ourselves, we will miss many of the lessons and the blessings that God has for us.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11b

 (Take a moment to listen to Evelyn Christenson’s testimony: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/facing-lifes-final-season-remembering-evelyn-chris/)

  1. This world is not our home. The struggles and heartaches of this life should leave us longing for more, for something better, but not something of this world. We should be yearning for our eternal home – “happily ever after.” All of the difficulties in this life will ultimately be redeemed in eternity. The pain of this world should allow us to discern truth and find eternal joy.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Don’t wait for “happily ever after” to find joy. Use “happily ever after” as a reason to be joyful.

 

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6108-09-14

Unimaginable

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… Ephesians 3:20

Ever feel like the desires of your heart will never become reality? Ever feel like God somehow overlooked your feelings, when He neglected to fulfill your deepest longings? Ever think that true joy is elusive, and that God is failing you?

Let me suggest a few things, which may demonstrate that you are putting God into a box that is just way too small.

  1. God will not force us to allow Him to take control. If we drop our burdens and desires at His feet, only to grab them back again, or if we cling to our heartbreak and our suffering, refusing to release them into His hands, He cannot work. We cry out to Him, questioning why He isn’t doing anything to fix our current plight, when at the same time, we tighten our grip on it, refusing to allow Him access to it. How can we expect to find true and lasting peace and joy, when we stubbornly carry around burdens that keep us bound in confusion, grief, and pain? We must allow our Heavenly Father to lift our burdens from our tired shoulders, and trust Him to do what He desires with them.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

  1. Often, our longings are not focused on the appropriate things. It is not wrong to ask God for and to desire blessings in our lives, but each and every one of our wants should be followed with the phrase, “Not my will, but Your’s be done.” Ultimately, our greatest desire should be to glorify God, as we seek to become more like His Son. We must trust the sovereignty of All-Mighty God enough to realize that He will only do what is the very best for us. When this becomes our heart’s cry, we will find that the things of this world truly do “grow strangely dim.” The fulfillment of our wants will no longer determine the level of our joy. Instead, we will find our satisfaction in complete and utter obedience to God.

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

  1. We often forget that God is unchangeable, unshakable, unstoppable, and unimaginable. Our little human minds cannot fathom the extent of His power and the depth of His understanding. We cannot even begin to grasp the measure of His wisdom. God executes His design in dimensions that we cannot even imagine. Think of the complexity of this solar system – from the workings of the human body to the unexplored regions of the ocean, to the heavens, which alone keep scientist pursuing and discovering in endless amazement and wonder. If He created this sophisticated universe with such diversity and such mystery for the pleasure of the human race, what must paradise, God’s dwelling place, be like? Our feeble and finite minds cannot begin to comprehend what our God is capable of.  Many times, when we do not attain our desires, we automatically assume that the opposite of our desires – which is far worse – will befall us; however, in reality, God’s plan is greater than we can even dream of. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. We forget that God is not of this world, rather, He created and now holds this world in the palm of His hand. His best for us is so much more awesome than we can ever possibly wish for, so again, our over-riding desire should be, “Not my will, but Your’s be done,” knowing that His plan leads to everlasting joy.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

  1. We just assume that our desires will make us happy. It is so hard for us to imagine that what we want may not really be what we actually want. Last week, my six year old son did not want to get out of our pool. I asked him to get out, and he started into a tantrum. I went on to explain that dark clouds were gathering it was beginning to thunder, and that lightning was very dangerous, especially near water. His angry tantrum very quickly turned into a mad rush to get into the house. His immature mind had him believing that the only thing that would make him happy was to stay in the water. When he got a dose of wisdom, he quickly decided that his desire was actually not so desirable after all. Perspective has an amazing way of changing what we believe. Because God does not choose to give us reasons for everything that He allows or brings into our lives, we must trust that His promises are sure, that He desires to protect us, will only give us the very best, and that the eventual redemption of our heartache will be far greater than the pain we suffer. Whatever we are willing to pour out in sacrifice to Him, will be multiplied and returned to us. It is not simply a “loss,” it is actually an eternal investment.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

  1. Another reason we often feel slighted is that we believe that we deserve our desires. We feel that somehow we are entitled to our wants, and that if we do not receive them, life isn’t fair. We use comparison to justify our worthiness. (i.e. “If that person can have three children and treat them like that, I deserve to at least have one.”) The biggest problem with comparison is that your standard of measurement is, most likely, not just. You cannot read the hearts and minds of others. You are comparing your “insides” to another person’s “outsides.” We need to stop looking around and start looking up. We need to measure our worthiness to God’s standards. We are all broken and flawed. None of us deserve anything good. We all deserve eternal punishment. It is only through Jesus that we are worthy of anything. Everything we receive is a gift and a blessing that originates from unmerited grace alone, and reflects the power and glory of God. Because of this, we must learn to accept and hold these gifts with open hands, knowing that if God asks for them back, He has a perfect reason.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12b

  1. Our beliefs do not change truth. If you believe that the sky is orange, it doesn’t change the truth that the sky is actually blue. Our lack of wisdom that allows us to fall for lies, will not hinder God’s promises from being fulfilled. We cannot thwart His plans. We are all broken and flawed individuals. We will make mistakes and be deceived over and over. However, these will only serve to remind us that we need a Savior. Like little children, we must trust in the strength of His arms to catch us, every single time. What a comfort! Rest in the truth.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

 

Original material by Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp47p07-28-14

Just Sing!

We all have those days – the ones that you just want to stay in bed. Your energy is at zero, and your desire to change it is about the same. Your body hurts, and so does your heart. Everything seems wrong. The life that you had planned has been replaced with circumstances that you couldn’t have dreamed of. You feel crushed, defeated.

It is during these times that we often have no idea how to get “normal” back. We aren’t even sure if that is what we want. We just know that we don’t want to feel like “this” forever. God feels so far away. Family and friends don’t get it. However, life goes on. How can we move forward, even when we cannot just “move on” or “get over it?”

I have found that in my deepest, darkest moments, music often speaks to my heart in ways that nothing else can. Music is a very common theme in Scripture. Singing and dancing are mentioned over and over – in good times and in difficult ones. My suggestion: Try singing! (Even if you don’t feel like it.) Why bother? Here are some reasons:

  1. God deserves the praise for what He has done in the past, and for what He will do in the future. His promises of redemption and healing are sure. In faith, praise Him for what He is going to do in your life, remembering what He has done for you in the past.

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:1,3

  1. Even in the midst of pain and trials, God’s presence will go with us. His sovereign protection is a reason to sing!

For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. Psalm 63:7

  1. God knows what you are going through. He knows every single tear that you shed. (Psalm 56:8) He feels our pain and reaches out to comfort us.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Isaiah 49:13

  1. Others need to know what He is doing in your life. Don’t be ashamed to glorify Him. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him.

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise. Hebrews 2:12

  1. This life is just a vapor. It is simply a training ground for our ultimate dwelling place. Everything that God allows to happen in our lives is for our good and for His glory. every. single. time. Never doubt that God will redeem and restore what you have lost, the pain you have endured, and the trials you have faced.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10

  1. Finally… Our God sings over you! Not only does He rejoice over you. Not only does He quiet you with His love. He exults over you with singing!! The All-Mighty God, The Creator of the Universe, The Commander of Angel Armies…sings over YOU! You are precious in His sight. (1 Peter 2:4) I like to think that sometimes, just sometimes, when He is quieting us by His love, that He sings lullabies to us – calming us with the gentleness of His hand. (Psalm 131)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Do not let your circumstances allow you to lose sight of the joy that is yours in Christ. If we have Christ, we have everything we need. Not everything we want, but everything we need. Allow Him to fill those voids in your heart and life with Himself. Lift your head and sing!!

How Sweet the Sound by Citizen Way – http://youtu.be/iXMNzaZgMEM

(If you need help getting started, visit http://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/music/ for a list of songs that have ministered to the women in our online support group.)

 

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6007-19-14

Consuming Desires

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

It is so difficult, if not impossible at times, to avoid becoming consumed with our current desire. Whether it is love, marriage, having children, getting a better job, a better car, or a better house, we tend to allow these things to become the center of our universe. When things are going “right,” we are joyful and thankful, but when times get tough, we get angry and bitter. We love God when we can control the outcome of our circumstances, but as soon as He begins to work and takes away our control, we question and turn away from Him.

The Problem?

When we allow circumstantial things to control our attitudes, actions, and even our belief systems, we are asking for a rough ride. It is like building our lives on shifting sand. When our plans fall through or things do not turn out the way we envisioned them, we see ourselves as failures at life in general. We feel incomplete. We feel lost. Our world crashes down around us.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27

Because we plan on our lives going in a particular direction, we often set unrealistic expectations. We begin to get confused between what we can control and what we cannot. Anger, guilt, and bitterness flood our hearts, as we feel wronged, incompetent, and worthless. (i.e. “If I want a baby, but cannot get pregnant, or cannot hold a pregnancy, I must be broken.” “If I do not currently have a child, I am not complete as a woman. Being a mother will complete me and make me happy.”) We are tricked into believing that we can somehow control these circumstances in our lives. In reality, we can do very little to affect when and how most things happen in our lives. What we can control is our response to what God allows to take place. We need to take time, frequently, in our lives to step back and determine what we can control and what we need to leave at the feet of Jesus. This surrender will release us.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9

A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?Proverbs 20:24

I have mentioned this before, but if we aren’t careful, we will allow our desires to become our identity. We will view the person that we are through this filter of accomplishment or lack thereof. This is dangerous and very wrong. Satan will use this to gain a foothold into your heart and mind, feeding you lies and deceiving you straight into the evil grasp of depression and misery.

You will find that when your desires become your identity, you begin to live a “what if?” life. You will take on a “would’a, could’a, should’a” attitude. You will find yourself using the word “unfair” to describe your current circumstances, and “deserve” to describe what you desire your circumstances to be. Living this way allows discontent, bitterness, and jealousy to take over your heart.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.Galatians 6:7

The Solution?

The sovereignty of God and the unfailing truth of His Word.

The sovereignty of God allows Him to take control of what we cannot. It allows an all-knowing, all-powerful God to stand at the end of our life and then, reach back, take our hand, and lead us through it. What safety! What peace! What freedom! This sovereignty allows us to find security in knowing that it is already worked out – from beginning to end. We cannot thwart the plans of all-mighty God. We do not have the ability to make His plan better, and neither do we have the lack of ability to make His plan fail. What a relief that should be to our often guilt-ridden hearts.

Of course, as humans, our minds will often wander to what might have been. However, that is the moment that we remember that God’s ways are better than anything we could ever imagine. In our minds, the hypothetical is always perfect. The actual reality may have been far different. We must trust that God knows best.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.Psalm 19:14

The words “deserve” and “fair” are dangerous ones. When you are tempted to use these words, take a moment to consider what is truly fair and what you truly deserve. Each one of us is blessed beyond measure. Each of us has more than we need. We have not been promised that our desires would all be met in full. We not been guaranteed a perfect or easy life. We must learn to be thankful and joyful for what we have been given, patient in prayer for what we still desire, and content in faith that God will only give us what is best for us.

The truth will set you free! This is a promise. God’s Word never fails. His promises are never broken. When you are trying living up to impossible expectations, judging ourselves by unfair measures, and condemning ourselves to live defeated lives, we are living a life based on lies. We must seek the truth. The truth about ourselves and the identity we have in Christ, which is never dependent upon what we accomplish, the truth about God and His deep desire to love us as His children – giving us only what is good for us, and lastly, the truth about our circumstances and desires. We must continually feed ourselves the truth, even when it hurts, even when we don’t feel like it, and even when we don’t really believe it. Because, trust me, when the truth spreads from you head into your heart, a peace and understanding, like you have never known, will flood your life. You will find joy and thanksgiving, in the midst of pain and grief, loss and fear, and tragedy and heartbreak.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Our identity should be found only in our position in Christ. No matter what we do or what happens, our identity as God’s child will not falter. Because we did nothing to secure this identity, we can do nothing to lose it either. There will be many roles that we are called to fill throughout life, and we must be sure to avoid confusing our roles with our identity.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17

If you do not have a personal relationship with God, or if you have wandered from His embrace, I urge you to contact us (joycomeswiththemourning@hotmail.com) or talk to someone you know, who can help you. Don’t waste another moment lost in helplessness and defeat. Our desire at Perfect Joy Ministries is to see you turn tragedy into triumph, pain into praise, and grief into glory. We desire to see you live a victorious and joy filled life, as you take the circumstances you find yourself in and turn it into an offering of praise unto God.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.Acts 2:21

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.John 6:37

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Allow Him to carry your burdens, manage your circumstances, and His truth to make your life a life worth living.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp5907-03-14

 

The Measure of Heartache

Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

Proverbs 20:10

 

“I had a four week miscarriage, and I am completely devastated. I don’t think that I can go on.”

“I have lost four children to miscarriage, but I am confident that God is in control, and it will all work out for my good in the end.”

“I have had nearly a dozen miscarriages and a stillbirth. I don’t have even one child to show for all of the grief.”

“I have two living children, but I desperately want another. My doctor said that I am unable to conceive anymore. I just feel incomplete.”

“I lost my first baby to a 14 week miscarriage. I have two rainbow babies and another on the way, but I just cannot get past the pain of my loss.”

“I have had miscarriage after miscarriage. I have five living children, but I’m just not ready to give up yet.”

 

These are just a few of the comments that I have received over the past few years. As I was doing research and collecting stories for my book, I began to wonder how to measure heartache. Before my four miscarriages, I definitely would have used a different measure, but after my own experiences, combined with literally thousands of other women’s experiences, my perspective has changed.

It is so easy to make quick judgments based on these scenarios above; however, you don’t have the entire story. Everyone has a story, and no one can truly understand another person’s. You do not know that one of these ladies lost her father two days before her early ectopic pregnancy, which nearly took her life, making it impossible for her to attend the funeral. You do not know that the woman with five living children always had a dream of a large family, and she and her husband saved their money for years to purchase a large farmhouse, which now feels empty with her family of seven. You also do not know that the lady with four miscarriages and seeming impossible faith was abused as a child, has had cancer, several major surgeries, and is considered handicap. Funny how details change perspective and our judgment of others.

I quickly decided that heartache cannot be measured with conventional methods. A four week miscarriage is not a lesser loss than a 40 week stillbirth. In both cases, there was much more lost than a precious child. There was the loss of hopes, dreams, and desires. There was the loss of the initial thrill of those two pink lines, the excitement of sharing with family and friends, and the thoughts of “pink or blue?” There was the loss of shopping for cute baby clothes, decorating a nursery, and choosing a first name that sounded just perfect with the middle name (which you would use only in high octaves, when he was in big trouble). There was the loss of the first diaper change, the first bath, the first tooth, the first haircut, and the first boo-boo. There was the loss of hundreds of sloppy kisses and awkward hugs, millions of toothy grins, and those wonderful wobbly footsteps. The loss of birthday parties, holidays, and of course, a way-too-expensive wedding. We have all lost those things, and so much more when that tiny heartbeat stopped in our womb, or never even existed at all.

Maybe you already had a baby shower and a nursery set up. Maybe you had to have a funeral, say good-bye to, and see your child buried under layers of earth. Maybe you even had some bonding time with your child – minutes, hours, or even days of turmoil and emotional roller coasters, leaving you with sad memories and a void beyond understanding. Maybe these things give reason to consider your heartache to be more difficult than so many others, who didn’t have to “clean up” physical evidence of a child, gone to heaven too soon.

Consider the mother that must go into the hospital, have her child taken, in pieces from her womb, only to be thrown away as medical waste. There is no physical evidence left of a baby, nothing to put away or clean up. No pictures. No labor pains. No birth or death certificate. No little hat or tiny blanket. No teddy bear or little lamb. There is only an aching heart and empty arms. What is the proof of this life? How does this mom find closure? How does she grieve something that she cannot even prove existed? How does she heal? Maybe this allows her heartache to be measured as worse than another?

Consider the woman battling infertility. The one who longs for a child – even for a moment in time – in order to earn the coveted title of “Mother.” Think of the months of pregnancy tests, hopes shattered time after time, as the months turn into years. Seeing peers welcome baby after baby, seemingly without effort or, sometimes, even desire. Do you think that Mother’s Day is any less difficult for this precious woman?

Perspective. It is all in the perspective.

I can hardly see a woman in public, without wondering what her story is. I pass a young mother with two rambunctious toddlers, or a weary mom with a screaming baby, or a woman yelling at her children in the freezer section, and I wonder. What is her story? I see a pregnant lady waddling wearily across the parking lot, and I wonder. Does she know how blessed she is to have reached the end with a healthy baby? Does she know the risks that still lie ahead? Oh, how I wonder.

Perspective + Wonder = Grace.

Instead of simply measuring others against my limited experiences, I am able to imagine, sympathize, and even empathize with those around me. For a brief moment, I can make a choice to consider another more important than myself. I can reach out with a kind word, an understanding smile, a listening ear, and even, sometimes, a compassionate hug. I can choose to see other’s heartache with the eyes of grace.

Yes, our heartache is all unique. It is all different. But, it is all difficult. It all hurts. We must each grieve in our own way. Find healing through a journey all our own. The beauty comes when we are able to choose a path alongside others, who can encourage, comfort, and support us during the journey. Even more precious is finding those few companions who will exhort us and push us toward thankful, joyful, and victorious living, in the midst of our heartache. Those very few who will feed truth to our hearts and point us in a direction, which at the time may seem uncomfortable, but will ultimately lead us to higher ground, safer ground – building our faith, widening our capacity for growth, and expanding our volume to show compassion in turn. These few may seem uncaring, unsupportive, calloused, or lacking compassion, especially when heartache is fresh and wounds are raw, but if you take a moment, just a moment, to forget your pain and listen to their stories, you will often find these few are the very ones who have suffered the most.

Step back. Be still. Gain perspective. Show grace. Find a life worth living – a life filled with the joy that comes with the mourning.

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12b

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp58p06-22-14

Broken Bones

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Psalm 51:8

When listening to the radio the other day, I heard someone say that when you break a bone, as long as it heals properly, it will be stronger than it was before. So, I did a bit of research. Although this statement isn’t always true, it does have some truth in it. While a bone is healing, your body forms a callus in the area of the break, protecting it and making it temporarily stronger than the bone around it. If it heals properly, the new bone is just as strong (occasionally stronger) than it was before the break.

Another example of this is when you get a sliver. Your body forms a callus over the area and surrounds the sliver in fluid. If you ignore it, an infection will form, causing pain and discomfort. However, if you remove the callus, clean out the fluid and get rid of the sliver, your body will heal itself.

I thought these were pretty good illustrations of how trials work in our lives. There are several steps in the healing process – physical and emotional – and if they are followed correctly, you will gain strength and wisdom that you couldn’t have gotten any other way.

  1. The Callus

Just as the body automatically forms a callus, in response to injury, our hearts often form a protective barrier. This can be a good thing, as it offers a level of safety during the grieving process. We often need some space, and some time away from other people.

However, this callus can become a bad thing. If we allow it to become permanent, our wound will never heal properly. We will always have a limp or a wound that keeps opening up. We must allow the callus to fall away, allowing air into the wound and promoting healing.

In the same way, we must allow our hearts to be open and vulnerable, in order to heal properly. This is, sometimes, really hard. It’s easier to remain callused and withdrawn, keeping our hearts “protected” from the world. However, if we stay this way we will have “limited living,” an emotional handicap. We must allow ourselves to hurt, so that we can heal.

  1. The Infection

If a wound is ignored, it often will form an infection. This will eventually effect the entire body, causing more pain and injury.

In our heartbreak, we sometimes allow “infection” in the form of bitterness, anger, and resentment. If we do not address these issues, we will eventually destroy our lives. We can choose to live in the midst of heartache and pain forever, never accomplishing anything of value, or we can choose to continue to live. We can take our new reality and choose to make something of it. Choose to find the roses in the midst of the thorns. It is all a choice – our choice.

  1. The Problem Resolved

When the sliver is removed, or the bone is properly set, your body is free to heal. It takes time for healing to take place – it doesn’t happen instantly. It often feels worse, before it feels better. However, if administered correctly, treatment will add in and even speed the process along.

In our lives, when we allow truth and time to have their way in our hearts, we will find that healing comes. It doesn’t change the reality of what we have been through, but it changes the outcome. It allows us to be stronger, braver, and more complete. It gives us a perspective and a wisdom that we lacked previously.

The goal in the Christian life is to become like Christ and to glorify God through the process. If we allow this to take place, we will see that the scars do not make us who we are, they only show where we have been. Do not waste your “broken bones.” Allow God to make them rejoice!

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp56p06-13-14